November 08, 2007

From Angry to Furious

LL called back to the bad vet's office to see if we could get him a prescription for an antibiotic for his infection since getting one elsewhere entails traveling with him (in cold weather) for another examination at another office. There isn't another close-by vet who can see him before Thanksgiving; the nearest one is some 30 miles away.

LL was told that not only would O'Leary/Worcester Bird Cat & Dog veterinary hospital not do this, but that they would refuse to treat him for anything unless we brought him in tomorrow for another visit. This would be on an emergency basis (so they'd charge us a lot of extra money) even though they were the ones who recommended he come in and despite the fact that his condition has improved vastly in the last several days. Remember, we were told that his kidneys were failing. An animal with bad kidneys doesn't spontaneously improve; their condition will get worse over time, not better. Not only would we have to bring him in for an emergency visit, but we would have to agree to let them perform a large battery of tests and let them keep him for some period of time, and the cost of all of this would be in excess of $500 and would be due tomorrow. They are unwilling to check him specifically for a respiratory infection and insist on all these tests or they won't see him at all. Nor will they offer us the option to pay them over time instead of all at once, despite LL telling them that we just don't have the money to do all of this right now. In fact, LL was told that unless Tycho was brought in on their terms, "You won't have a lizard by Thanksgiving." And if we can't pay them immediately, they won't see him at all.

In other words, this veterinarian's office just told us in essence, "Fork over $500 by tomorrow or the lizard gets it." That's not medicine, that's blackmail. This is emotional blackmail, is it not? Clearly the concern here isn't a humane one or they would have been willing to work out some sort of payment plan with us rather than refuse to see Tycho at all. They'd rather let him die than receive payment in installments! That is, assuming they believe he's really in as bad shape as they're telling us.

I have gone from merely angry to furious with this veterinarian. I have never, ever heard of such callous treatment and such an uncaring attitude toward a sick animal or its owners. Based on my experience, I'll say again what I said before: if you have a reptile and live in the vicinity of Worcester, MA, do not take your animal to Nancy O'Leary or Worcester Cat, Bird and Dog Clinic.

LL has made an appointment with another vet's office. It's much further away and it means paying for a second initial visit, but I can't believe that we're likely to find a second vet with such a lousy, unprofessional, downright nasty way of doing business. It's worth the bit of extra money just to take him somewhere else, and even if there is more wrong with him than a respiratory infection, I'm sure that we'll at least be able to get him a prescription for that problem and work out some terms to pay over time if he needs any other treatments for other problems.

I'm looking into filing a complaint about this veterinarian; there's apparently a state licensing board with whom complaints can be filed. I still think her diagnosis was wrong, and even if a second opinion gives us the same diagnosis (and I strongly doubt that it will), telling us that our pet is effectively sentenced to death unless we can come up with $500 tomorrow must amount to some kind of ethical violation.

For his part, Tycho is currently scratching about happily in his cage at the moment, having just polished off a huge bowl of greens. This doesn't look like an animal with renal failure to me in the least. He's not dehydrated, he's eating, and his energy has returned to very nearly normal. That's not what happens when an animal's kidneys are shutting down.

I'm flat out pissed off at this point.

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