Our first new client of the day presented with an english bulldog who had a number of health problems, the most pressing of which was a serious eye condition that may eventually require surgery. When she called she had announced to the receptionist she only had four dollars. The receptionist suggested she get some more money together before her appointment as we really could not do anything for four dollars. While you probably should not have any pet if you only have 4 dollars, I would think an english bulldog is probably the worst choice ever. Anyway, let's just say my daily dose of faith in humanity was already running low when new client number two arrived.
Client number two presented with a sweet, gentle red bone coonhound, maybe 4-5 years old. It's hard to say if he was always sweet and gentle or if it was just because he was very ill but he had a kind look on his face.
The presenting complaints were weight loss, lethargy, decreased appetite, dark and tarry stools, and coughing and/or vomiting up large amounts of blood for several days. On exam the dog was emaciated, his belly distended with fluid, and his heart muffled by all the congestion in his lungs. Has he ever been on heartworm prevention? No. But not to worry, she had googled that and didn't think it was likely. I glanced at the two small children in the room and even though I knew the answer felt compelled to ask if the dog had ever even been dewormed. Also no.
While I don't approve of people not taking adequate care of their dogs I find it even more unbelievable that so many of them either don't realize or don't care that by not regularly deworming their pet they potentially expose their children to the devastating effects of hook and roundworm infestation. Internally I frowned and shook my head and then turned my attention back to the dog. I decided to use my actual medical degree instead of Dr. Google's and suggested we go ahead and run the heartworm test. Shockingly it was positive.
I presented the woman with a $900 estimate for treatment explaining that this price did not include any complications, that the dog might not live through the treatment and that he may likely have permanent heart damage and require life long medications, or may not survive very long even if he made it through the treatment. Naturally this initiated a call to the husband which prompted the inevitable "can you repeat everything to him using my nasty, germy cell phone request."
Ultimately the decided to euthanize. She left the dog alone in the room while she paid her bill and left. As she did so, the technician told her, without emotion, not to worry-she would stay with her dog while we put it down.
A short time later, we gathered in the room where the dog was dozing from the sedative. He received his last bit of love, maybe his only love, from three strangers as we quietly ended his suffering. All of which could have been prevented for about $7 a month. People suck.