Saying Good-Bye to an Amazing Animal Thanks to Veterinary Negligence
I was 18 when I purchased Pumpkin, a toy Pomeranian. She was an ugly little thing as a baby. So ugly, of course, I thought she was adorable. She looked like a lion with fuzz on her face, a fuzzy, longer mane, and fuzz on the rest of her body. She had a long black stripe going down her back, that eventually went away. Being an animal lover and having my very first dog to call my own, immediately made me feel like she was my child. I was hooked on taking her everywhere with me and giving her kisses all day long.
When she grew up, she started showing just how smart she was. I could teach her new tricks in a day. She would get her toy if I asked for it, could pee and poop on command (yes, really), would jump up with a hand signal, crawl, give me five, speak, and say please (same as speak but I would say "What do you say?" and she would bark). I also taught her to open up her crate door (if it was unlocked) by using her paw. If I told her to go lay down, she'd walk over to her crate, pull it open with her paw, and then walk inside. Eventually she learned it was mostly for treats, so she would bark as soon as she was in there to get her prize. I would love to share a video of her doing her tricks but unfortunately I don't see that I'm able to upload videos on here.
Moving on with the story, in 2009 I went up to NY to visit my family and I brought her with me. My family has a very big yard and another dog. So, whenever Pumpkin would go to NY she would have a blast. She'd want to run out in the yard all day long and she would play with the other dog (also a Pomeranian). I decided that I would let her stay there for a couple of months to enjoy herself and then I would take her back after my next trip to NY.
Here's a little background information that pertains to the story:
My father owns an animal trapping business in NY. He is constantly bringing raccoons, squirrels, and other wildlife around the house. My family has also had dogs and other pets for as long as I have been alive. They are huge animal lovers. So, naturally, if you own pets, you'll have a veterinarian that you go to. If you like them, you'll bring all of your pets there throughout the years. There was a veterinarian that had seen and treated every animal that was living in their house. This veterinarian also conveniently lived around the block from my parents house (so, he was obviously familiar with the area). Let's continue...
While Pumpkin was in NY and I was in Florida, I received a phone call from my mother saying that Pumpkin was sick. She had been in NY for about 5 months now and had recently been to the veterinarian. My mother asked the vet if Pumpkin needed any vaccines and he told her no (they had Pumpkin's vaccination history on file). My mother proceeded to tell me that she was laying under the bed and wasn't coming out like she would normally. She decided to leave it alone for two days in hopes that Pumpkin would get better on her own. Then, Pumpkin started throwing up. Not a lot, but enough to make you worry. She called me to fill me in and said she would take her right to the vet's office. The veterinarian said that Pumpkin was sick, but not too bad, he thought she had a liver infection, and that they would keep her overnight and treat her.
The next day, I received an awakening phone call from my father saying that the veterinarian called to say that Pumpkin's liver and kidneys were failing, that he now thinks it was being caused by Leptospirosis, and that they would need to do intensive treatment to try and save her. I called the doctor to give him permission to do whatever treatment was necessary to save her, no matter what the cost would be. He said that because she was young (6 years old), that he thought she had a fighting chance to be OK and that he'd immediately start intensive treatment.
During this time, I did some research on Leptospirosis and found out that a preventative vaccination is usually given to animals that live in areas with common wildlife such as raccoons. The disease can be picked up from raccoon urine (one of the ways). Pumpkin hadn't had this vaccination and when the veterinarian was asked, he said she didn't need any. This is shocking to find out when this veterinarian lives right around the block from my parents, knows my father's profession (animal trapping), and knows that there is plenty of wildlife in the area. We also found out later on that Leptospirosis was on the RISE in our area! This is something that the veterinarian should have not only been aware of, but should have informed us of it and our options to take preventative measures.
A day goes by and the veterinarian said that they were performing the treatment but that Pumpkin wasn't getting any better yet. I thought to myself that there was no way that this dog would pass away without me at least being there to say good-bye. I was ready to leave to fly up to NY the next day to go and see her. All I kept thinking about was her laying there wondering where her mother was, why I wasn't there, and what was happening to her. I should have been there and I needed to be there.
That next morning, at 9:00 am, I received a phone call from my parents that Pumpkin had passed away.
I couldn't breathe.
I couldn't stop crying.
I felt like my heart was crushed.
My first child, my baby, my angel, was taken away from me at far too young of an age.
I didn't even get to say good-bye.
I do not think it's fair what happened. I know that this could have been prevented if the veterinarian cared and was doing his job. We should have been informed about the rise of this disease as well as the risks of having animals in a wildlife populated area. I'm sorry for anyone who has gone through losing a pet. It is incredibly difficult to lose them when they are so much a part of our family. I didn't see Pumpkin as a dog, I saw her as my baby. Now, I'll never see her as anything ever again.
I've written this to share my story and I hope that it will inform people about this deadly disease. If you live in an area that has plenty of wildlife, or your profession requires wildlife to be brought around your house, and you have pets of your own, please make sure you inform your veterinarian of this and ask if there are any vaccinations that are needed to make sure your pets are safe. I know that there are a lot of people that choose not to vaccinate their pets, but be careful, you wouldn't want the fact that you didn't vaccinate them to be the reason for them to no longer be alive. I think losing them over that would be worse than vaccinating them. Just my opinion.