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Don't Put Your Pets Life Into Your Vet's Hands

Updated on January 7, 2020
Esther Han profile image

I'm a nursing student. USA combat medic since 2017. Mother of a baby girl. Wife of a Marine.

Price cannot compare to a life

There's a cost to everything. Especially when it is an emergency, you might not even be able to pay for the full amount because- well... life.

There are always ways out of a stuck situation though. So do not lose hope. Your family, your life-long friend needs you more than anything. You are his last hope. You are his only voice.

Money makes you happy but you can't take it to your grave. If you can save a life, why not save the life that keeps you alive every day?

A little back story to get the whole jist of this situation.

I am married to a Marine and we moved out to Hawaii from California on May 2019 on his orders. I brought my family dog with me because her and I had the closest bond out of the rest of my family. I've had her since I was 10 years old. She barely visited the vet while we had her since I was that young and let me tell you, Minnie was the most healthiest grandma dog you've ever seen. She looked young, she acted young, she was just built for her age. She was a very healthy dog even if we never fixed her after she gave birth to 5 beautiful puppies when she was 2 years old (this was an accidental pregnancy).

When I moved out with her to Hawaii, we had to quarantine Minnie and our other dog Chico for 30 days because we didn't have all of their shot records and quarantine time done back in California. Yet, she was active and enjoying life like how she always used to. She knew I would come back for her no matter what.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture Animal Quarantine Station was disgustingly dirty. I was shocked that their reason of quarantine was because they claimed themselves to be the "cleanest" state there is. I found rat feces on Minnie's bed and there were ants everywhere near them.Their cages were their room, play room, and feeding room all in one. Every time the dogs defecated, the workers would just scoop it up and hose it down with water. Same went with urine. It was unsanitary. And when we visited, guess where we played with the dogs? The area they hosed down. The heat they had to live in for 30 days was excruciating as well. If anything, this was another way for pets to become ill.

The living condition was horrendous I wanted to get them out ASAP. We found Veterinarian clinics that could take them in to their care. So my babies could be fed properly and taken care of the way they deserved. We sent them to the Kama'aina Pet Hospital for the rest of the time they had to be quarantined. And they did an excellent job taking care of my babies and getting to know them personally. They described Minnie as a germaphobe which was accurate considering she was my princess warrior and Chico as their morning sunshine as he is very playful.

I was happy whenever I visited them because I could see that they were much more comfortable in AC and their cozy beds. They did their laundry for them and gave them a clean and comfortable environment. They walked them to go potty. All in all, they cared.

An issue came to attention. Minnie was discharging a cloudy substance when she urinated. This was definitely a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). We started giving her antibiotics that was prescribed to Minnie and the infection slowly got better- she wasn't having cloudiness or blood. Her health prevailed.

After a few months passed, she started to gradually bleed. From what it looked like at the time, we thought it was a menstrual cycle. But, It was lasting way too long. The normal menstrual cycle for a female dog goes anywhere from a week to a month. When she started bleeding more and more after a month or two, I knew there was something severely wrong internally. I tried to treat a potential UTI with natural remedies such as yogurt and vitamins. I bought her washable doggy diapers so she doesn't lick any of her blood and to prevent her from spilling blood everywhere. Minnie drank a lot of water at this point to compensate her dehydration and flush any toxicity in her body. It was internal, there was no way of telling what was wrong unless there was a way to look at all of her vitals and screenings.

I avoided taking her to the vet because they say the same thing all the time. First option is always 'humane euthanization' and the second option which is either surgery or medication.

I knew the spiel. In fact 3 years ago, an emergency vet told me at 2:00 AM that if I did not give Minnie surgery that night, she'd die within a week. I told her to give me antibiotics and that we're going home. Now, this could've been a deadly decision. But I knew my Minnie and every dog owners should know their pets enough to make the 'right' call. You know their history more than anyone.

Vets can test all they want. They can observe all they want. But they're looking at your pet as a description in their textbook they studied. Your pet is just another comparison and another subject. Unless that vet has been your pet's vet since very young.

My last straw to give in and take Minnie to the vet was when she went unconscious on me during a walk at night. We were just doing our daily routine and walking after dinner time. She was barking at other dogs and when I pulled her to stop barking she slowly walked towards the way we were walking again. Very slow and wobbly to the point where something didn't look right. I just stopped walking and stared at her and that moment I felt uneasy. Her back legs started straightening out and getting limp while her front legs were the only support keeping her upright. They stood straight. She just collapsed and lied there for a good 10 seconds or so. I was shaking her and screaming her name. Telling her to wake up. I immediately took her harness off and was ready to give her CPR but she opened her eyes and I held her tight in my arms. My heart dropped and I couldn't help letting out a big cry. She pushed her ears back and looked so confused and relieved. She was scared too I could tell.

That October night I rushed her to the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital and saw Dr. Tammy Heerkens. After her examination she said Minnie has severe pyometra. She recommended euthanization first which of course I denied with a hard NO. She then said she would need immediate surgery to get rid of the pyometra. She informed me that pyometra is a cause of sepsis since it infects not only the uterus but also the blood. Dr. Heerkens was surprised Minnie survived 14 years without getting fixed as it can cause severe complications as such. I wanted to go through with the surgery and get rid of Minnie's discomfort that she had to deal with for so long. Something I was so ignorant towards because I thought dog menstrual symptoms and cycles were similar to those of humans. Dr. Heerkens wanted to transfer us to their sister emergency hospital which I agreed on.

When we got to the VCA Family and Oahu Veterinary Specialty Center, I saw Dr. Hye-Yeon Jang and informed her that Minnie might be anemic from the pyometra which could've caused her to go unconscious for a few seconds (there could've been a lot more going on than just anemia). They took Minnie in and did blood work on her and did some diagnostic imaging. I was informed very little on what their whole diagnostic results came out to be. I was only told about the enlarged pyometra. Nothing else. I agreed on surgery that night because I knew she had a fight in her to live longer. We were charged over $5,000 because she was going through overnight care and had blood transfusions due to her being anemic. After 3 weeks of recovery (longer than normal) she healed and started being active again and broke the habit of licking herself slowly.

She was on a lot of medications. Going from antibiotics to opioids. It was necessary because of the invasive procedure she underwent. Minnie was sedated most of the time after giving her the medications because she had no appetite and ate very little. We had to actually put the same piece of food into her mouth because she kept spitting it out. For her whole life, this girl had an appetite of a sumo wrestler. So it was alarming when I saw her deny her favorite food- chicken. I called the vet and they told me it's okay if she doesn't eat. As long as she licks even a little bit of peanut butter.

Here, I was wrong to listen to their advice. If I was thinking logically, which I couldn't for the majority of time she was ill, it is not okay to feed medications in an empty stomach. Yes some people do it and some people are fine. But for geriatrics? Definitely not. Minnie started throwing up every day from the medications. All I could do is try to get her appetite up while she was bed ridden.

Soon after her incision healed and she was on no more medications, she started jumping on places again, she started going up and down the stairs, she was doing her own thing like she always used to. She started to climb on my growing pregnant tummy and hug it everyday like she used to. That relieved my soul.

It wasn't long after (a month; to be exact) that she started facing complications again. This time, it was her back legs. She could barely make them straight. This was ongoing for a few days. At this point, I thought it was because she was just recovering from all the medications and she could still be developing her strength back to her legs. This was not the case.

One morning she couldn't get up. She was crying in pain and she was trying to tell me something that I couldn't quite figure out. Eventually she had to urinate and made her way to her pad. But she could barely hold herself up. After taking care of her business and drinking some water she would just lay there whimpering and crying. No matter how much pain Minnie would be in, she never cried. I knew she couldn't feel her legs and something was hurting and she was scared. I was scared to death. I wasn't ready to let her go.

I tried to massage her legs and give her tummy rubs and just stimulate her body so she knows she's comforted. It only worked for a little while because she couldn't even feel if she had to defecate or urinate. Something told me it was because of that surgery. That surgery was to fix her. So why was she suffering more when she recovered successfully?

I was hurting the whole day watching her suffer. I was waiting for my husband to get back from work so we can take her to the vet to let her rest.

While we were waiting I talked to her and kept giving her tummy rubs and putting warm compress on her abdomen. I carried her outside and we walked towards the ocean we live near (she loved the sand). While I was walking with her in my arms, she looked up at me as if she was saying "Thank you" or "where are we going?". I kept talking to her to keep her mind off of things. We got to the beach and we sit there for a little listening to the waves and relaxing in the breeze. There were high tides and Minnie didn't like the water much. She looked the other way towards the grass.

I walk her to the big grassy field and I lay her down as she is unable to walk. I watch her bask in the sun and look forward to the other side of the field. She was just enjoying her last moment breathing in the fresh air. It was getting too hot for her so I carry her back. We looked at some flowers while coming back home and she sniffed some berries and flowers. She loved smelling sweet fragrances from plants.

When we were finishing our walk, she hugged me so tight I felt her gripping my shoulders with her head resting so heavily on my left shoulder. I held her tight also telling her that I love her so much.

My husband came home around 3:00 PM and we headed to the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital and waited to see a doctor. We ended up seeing Dr. Renkins. The Doctor took Minnie in to examine her and she came back with information that was obviously known. Yes she has no proprioception, I was aware. She didn't even think bout suggesting physical therapy or any of that sort. She was saying she could prescribe her meds. When I was sure that meds had something to do with her illness considering she was taking meds for a prolonged period of time.

I told her we're going to put her down and I felt numb when they took her in to get her prepped for the euthanization process. I wasn't ready to sign the papers but I did. I wanted her suffering to end. I didn't want to see her cry anymore.

I felt anxiety while waiting for her to come back into the room. She had a glittery pink wrap around her arm with a catheter administered under it. The doctor put her down on my lap and she was starting the procedure.

First came the sedation. Minnie went completely limp within seconds and I felt her melting into my arms. Then the doctor immediately administered the euthanizing solution. Between the two solutions being pumped in, the question of "Am I doing the right thing?" ran in my mind a hundred times. The deal was set though. She was gone.

They took her away from me. I felt my whole body weak and going limp and I wanted her back immediately.

After grieving her, I went into investigation to see what was wrong with my baby. I asked for her medical records from both VCA hospitals.

VCA Family sent me their diagnostic screenings they took of her and the radiologists diagnostics page. Which shocked me a lot and led me to call them right after I looked over the diagnostics. There were things I never knew of and that I was never informed about. Minnie had chronic intervertebral disc disease at L1-L2 and L2-L3, spondylosis, sclerosis and an enlarged liver. This was information that should've been brought up as it poses a big health threat as well. Dr. Sin gave me a call back and spoke for both Dr. Jang and herself. I asked Dr. Sin why this information was kept away from discussion. Her answer was since their hospital was an emergency hospital, they only share pertinent information. If you ask me, all health related issues is pertinent information. My questions were never fully answered and she said she had another emergency to attend to.

Dr. Renkins called back from VCA Kaneohe and I asked if she look at Minnie's medical records thoroughly. She said there were none in their system and that they were trying to get her medical records that night but never came through. This call was a week after Minnie's death and they still didn't have any information on Minnie? And she tried to prescribe Minnie medication that night without looking at her medical history? That should not be legal in the first place. Why go for healthcare only to potentially mess up health instead...

VCA is a big animal hospital corporation that spreads across this country. They're an organized business.

All I could do was to write reviews online and let them know that money shouldn't be their drive in the healthcare field. That if they were doing it for the profits, to stay out of the profession.

The manager of that hospital commented on my review saying it's disheartening to read my review and to contact her. Well, I did and never heard a thing back.

I lost my completely healthy baby girl listening to ignorant people who only saw her as another client. But to me, she was family I wasn't willing to lose.

When a tragedy occurs such as this situation, one who is even knowledgeable of any matter can become dumbfounded and panic. It's a normal human reaction. That's why there are doctors to keep options open and keep the environment calm; doctors who can make a sound and valid decision.

Medications, checkups, and procedures are no joke. They can really teach you money comes and goes. And look, everyone's trying to survive out there. There's no need to look at a receipt of $1,000 and be shocked when most people out there will spend $3,000 easy on a laptop they've always wanted. A life vs material things. That's something people forget to weigh mentally when they see 4 digits.

If you have loved ones and furbabies you care about, don't be afraid to ask for the medical records and all of their diagnosis before making any big decisions. It's your baby after all. There are always natural ways of curing everyone. There are ALWAYS options.




Destination: Hawaii

On the left is Chico. On the right is Minnie.
On the left is Chico. On the right is Minnie.
She loved nibbling on flowers and sniffing what nature provided for her.
She loved nibbling on flowers and sniffing what nature provided for her.
Snow was where she could do crazy things and fall into soft white clouds
Snow was where she could do crazy things and fall into soft white clouds

My hardest goodbye

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    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Aishatu Ali 

      2 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      So sorry for your loss! My Mano (kitten) died on November 22, 2018, and I still miss her. Rest in peace, Minnie!

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