Dear Dr. Hosomi:
I am writing in reference to the veterinary care my daughter, Lauren Ciuti received for her 11 year old shitzu, Suki. I was a witness to what took place on the early evening of Monday, June 11th.
To give you a little background, I have owned 12 dogs in my life time. I worked in the medical profession at Albert Einstein Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center in women’s health and primary care for 20 years. I was in the veterinary field for the last 16 years as office manager, resident coordinator and event planner at the Wildlife Health Center of the Bronx Zoo. I currently volunteer my time as a dog therapist for residents at rehabilitation facilities throughout the Bronx and Westchester. I also volunteer at various animal rescue groups to place dogs and cats in forever homes. With that in mind, I was shocked and disappointed with the care Suki received. When my daughter first contacted me that her dog was at your facility and in distress, I immediately drove from City Island to Scarsdale. Suki did not show any visible symptoms prior as I just visited the dog on Saturday. She was symptomatic the evening before but showed no signs of distress in the morning.
I arrived at the Hospital at 6 pm to a locked door even though my daughter informed the receptionist that I would arrive. Eventually, I was let in. Upon entering the hospital, I walked over to the receptionist and asked to see my daughter and Suki. When you were paged, there was a brief conversation between you and the receptionist. As you left, the receptionist asked me who was responsible for the bill. I was astonished at the lack of empathy and order of business before I even saw our dog. I responded that at this point I did not know and wanted to see the dog first. I was then taken to the treatment room where I found Suki receiving oxygen therapy manually by mask. Although she was happy to see me, she appeared stressed and uncomfortable by being handled and having a mask placed over her nozzle. This added to her distress. If the diagnosis was sudden congestive heart failure, she should have been placed in an oxygen tent immediately to avoid further stress and handling.
Your facility states that your building is a hospital. I don’t understand how a hospital does not include 24 hr. care. Patients should be made aware upon entry that there is no 24 hr. care. If an animal is in a death defying situation, your facility cannot offer the services needed to treat an animal in an emergency case. Referring patients to a facility in Tarrytown is absurd. Precious time is wasted as was the case with Suki. We would have never brought her to your hospital if we would have known this in advance.
Your diagnosis of Suki having congestive heart failure was correct but your prognosis was dead wrong. In all our conversations, you never once indicated that Suki was in a life threatening position. Your prognosis was that it was treatable. There was no mention of end of life decisions that had to be made. You had suggested that Suki be monitored overnight and receive oxygen but the decision was up to us. Lasix and meds were given and we were told to return once a month. We were then advised to bring the dog to an affiliated hospital in Tarrytown, NY. I objected and stated it was too far away. I asked the receptionist to call a facility in White Plains or Yonkers as it would be easier and faster for us to get her the care she needed. Your staff stated that the hospital was only 5 minutes away...down the road. You then indicated that the dog was stable after only 5 minutes off of oxygen. That was not enough time to evaluate her breathing and vitals. I was not comfortable taking her off the oxygen so soon. I mentioned to you that she wasn’t right. Her eyes were not clear but was ignored.
Being it was after 6 pm (your closing time), I felt very rushed and pressured by you and your staff. There was little empathy nor concern for the dog nor what she was going through. Payment had to be made which took another 10 minutes. The dog was then carried by an animal handler to the car. As soon as she was placed in my daughter’s arms, she immediately started having labored breathing. We anxiously exclaimed that it was starting again but was told by the handler that maybe it was the way we were holding her and she would be all right. That statement made no sense and I soon became aware of what was happening.
We began our journey to the ER without oxygen. Within 5 minutes, the coughing and gasping for air began. We couldn’t turn back because as soon as we left, the doors were locked behind us, staff left; parking lot empty; lights out! We raced to the ER which in fact was not a 5 minute drive away but 20 minutes. Suki went into immediate congestive heart failure. She was filling up with fluid and gasping for air. Her kidneys shut down as she turned blue and went into convulsions on my daughter’s lap. We watched in horror as she died in front of our eyes. We reached the ER 3 minutes before she passed. She was DOA. I am still horrified that our dog went through this because of your negligence and bad judgement.
I have worked with the top veterinarians at the Bronx Zoo and have never witnessed an animal die in vain or pain. I will carry that vision and sadness for the rest of my life. I accept the fact that Suki was ll year’s old, congestive heart failure is not uncommon in this breed but I will never accept the fact of not having the opportunity to put her down humanely. She deserved more and you are responsible for this. Your diagnosis of congestive heart failure was correct but the severity of her condition and prognosis proved deadly. At no point did you indicate that a decision had to be made. To think that a veterinarian and staff were more concerned about leaving on time than giving the proper care to an animal is ethically incomprehensible. Suki was a dog with a gentle soul. She did not deserve to leave this world so cruelly.
I’m sure all looks well on Suki’s medical records but absent from it is empathy, compassion and sound ethical practice. I am saddened and disappointed that she had negligent care and was taken to your facility. I hope you never forget this case just as I will never forget our Suki.
Reason of review: Pricing issue.
Monetary Loss: $800.
Preferred solution: Full refund.