First, Do No Harm

If you’ve ever worked at a facility that boards pets, you are probably familiar with owners who never pick up their pets.  In my experience, this is a rare occurrence but it is sad when it happens.  The pet spends week after week in the facility while the bill runs up, attempts are made to reach the owner and the business owner gets increasingly frustrated.

This happened at a vet clinic I worked at many years ago.  We ultimately sent a certified letter to the owner, warning that if he did not respond, the dog would be considered abandoned and our clinic would dispose of him as we deemed fit.  The owner did not respond and the dog was adopted by one of our staff members who’d been caring for him during his extended stay.

At Lehigh Acres Animal Hospital in FL, 2 dogs were in a similar plight.  The bill had run up to $2000 and the owner was sent letters, probably along the lines of the one I described above.  The owner did not respond.  The difference in this case was that the vet killed the dogs and then accepted donations from the public who had seen a news story on the abandoned dogs and wanted to help.

On Friday, [Lehigh Acres Animal Hospital] released this statement: “The dogs were put down because they didn’t have a safe stable home to go to nor did they have any financial income to be cared for correctly.”

Do you see the words “medically hopeless and suffering” in there anywhere?  I don’t.  And in their absence, I find it shocking to think a veterinarian would issue a statement to justify the killing of these 2 dogs.

My vet, on occasion, will have a photo of a dog available for adoption at the front desk.  These are typically dogs who have been abandoned for whatever reason.  Couldn’t Lehigh Acres Animal Hospital have done something similar?  At the very least, couldn’t they have taken the dogs to the local shelter so they could have a chance at adoption?

13 thoughts on “First, Do No Harm

  1. The story makes it sound like evil Dr. Gabriel wanted to kill these dogs just for the sake of killing them. REALLY!!? These people dropped off their dogs and never came back. They never contacted anyone until after it was too late and only so they can garner sympathy. In fact, I will bet anything that a lawsuit is coming. These jerks don’t deserve to own dogs. Any normal owner that was truly concerned with their pets would have at least remained in contact with the Veterinarian. It was apparent that the Dr. could not get in contact with the dogowners, but they could very well have called his office and let the Dr. know their situation. But instead, these dogowners chose to ignore the fact that their dogs were left in the care of Dr. Gabriel. A true dog lover would never even think of just leaving their pets and never bothering to make arrangements to pick them up.

    The people that become veterinarians hold a special place in their hearts for animals and they would never just kill an animal over a few lousy dollars. I bet it pained Dr. Gabriel horribly to have to put these dogs down, but what else was he supposed to do. It is a business and not a charity. It cost money to treat and house these dogs and there is only so much space, medicine and doctor and staff time to go around. Furthermore, we are talking about two animals that were very ill and very aggressive. If these dog’s owners could not even be bothered to make a simple phone call to inform the doctor of their situation, what is the doctor supposed to do? If these dog owners don’t care about their very own dogs, how do they expect others to? Unless of course these people have that mentality that everyone is supposed to care for them at the expense of everyone else but themselves. I don’t know of a single veterinarian in the world that would not have made any reasonable arrangement in order to get these animals back to their owners. Even if it was for much less money or a simple and easy payment plan. Anyone who thinks that Dr. Gabriel did this just to be mean and cruel to the animals and the owners is (and I guarantee it) 100% a liberal. Only liberals have bleeding hearts that think anyone with a problem should be the burden of everyone else. Dr. Gabriel is the gov’t and he isn’t the welfare dept. He believes in the American system. He busted his butt in school and did without when so many others were having the time of their lives. Dr. Gabriel gave up the prime years of his life to learn to care for animals. Just because some selfish idiots abandon their dogs doesn’t mean Dr. Gabriel is supposed lose money because these idiots can’t be bothered to lift a finger to contact him. I am willing to bet Dr. Gabriel did everything and more that he was required to do before having to put these poor dogs down. It is these jerks that put him in this horrible position and now they want to blame him and want sympathy (and I bet money) from the entire world because of their poor choices. I hope these idiots are never allowed to own another animal ever again. I certainly hope their little girl pulls through. Otherwise I can only imagine these idiots just leaving their daughter behind at the hospital expecting the rest of us to take care of their burdens while they whine and complain about how their life sucks and its all because of the rest of us didn’t help them enough. BOOHOO. If you want grown-up responsibilities, you better start acting like one. If for any reason these people are allowed to get an animal again, they should treat it as they expect to be treated and not abandon it just because life threw them a curve ball. We all endure rough moments in life. But those of us that are mature and responsible live with our choices and take our responsibilities seriously. We don’t abandon them and whine that it is everyone else’s fault but our own.

    1. You’re getting into the backstory of the case and are of course entitled to your view. This post expresses an opposing view and offers several links at the end for those interested in further details.
      I think the basic point is that if the family couldn’t pay the daughter’s hospital bill and left her there, as you suggest, obviously no one would consider killing her, regardless of her temperament or the fact that she requires medical treatment.

    2. Concereend, where are you getting the information about the dogs (that they were ill and aggressive)? And what is the situation with the daughter? I checked out the links listed and didn’t see that.

      You ask what the vet is “supposed to do” in this situation. I don’t think he has to keep the dogs forever, but in this case, they had a rescue group willing to take them in. Or, as YesBiscuit mentioned, taking them to a shelter would at least give them a chance at a new home.

      If believing that a vet should look into other options when they are not only available, but OFFERED, makes me a 100% liberal, then call me a liberal.

      Accepting money from people who are donating to get the dogs back when you’ve killed the dogs is simply outrageous.

      1. “The people that become veterinarians hold a special place in their hearts for animals and they would never just kill an animal over a few lousy dollars.”

        I’d like whatever you’re smoking, please. I’d love to be able to believe that every veterinarian was a spiritual clone of James Herriott, too!

  2. Taking money from the public for the dogs after they’d already killed them = fraud. Theft by deception, actually.

    But state veterinary boards seem to be wildly uninterested in the various forms of financial malfeasance in which certain vets specialize.

  3. Concereend

    Most vets do love animals. Many vets are fantastic people. Most people, contrary to the news we read, are basically decent. Most will do the right thing.

    Some people suck. And as they are people, so do some veterinarians.

    Does this vet fall into that category? I don’t know. But killing two dogs who had a place to go and then taking money for their care is sounding rather skeevy.

    IF the dogs were truly beyond hope, then maybe setting up a fund to help future foundlings or low income owners with the money so that the clinic doesn’t get stuck with another big expense might have been OK.

    A fellow rescuer in my group had to deal last year with a veterinary clinic who called us to pick up a relinquished dog. She went to get him, was shown the dog, then told rescue had to pay the 2500.00 bill or they would just kill him.

    She did what she had to. She walked away. Rescue cannot pay thousands of dollars to bail out a dog. But she also pointed out that dead or alive, they, the clinic, were still out the money. Dead they’d also have to deal with the body and euthanol cost. And she’d be posting the story and letting her friend at the newspaper know about the whole thing. 2 hours later she was met in the parking lot by another employee who handed her the dog.

    Is it fair that veterinarians have to foot the bill for these situations? Absolutely not. But it’s also no fault of the animals’ either. And if you take money from the public, which is offered strictly out of generosity, then absolute transparency as to exactly what it is being accepted for is the least you can do.

  4. The family hit a lot of hard times and were trying from my understanding to do right by the dogs. I think this family has been made out to be a villian here and from what I’ve read, that’s not the case.

    First the husband lost his job, then they lost their house. Follow that by their child getting sick requiring a kidney transplant or something similar, I can see their stress level being over the top and not having enough to give at the end of the day to check on the dogs — they thought they were in a safe place.

    While I don’t know which catastrophe they started boarding the dogs in, did the vet clinic send the certified letter to their home … which apparently they weren’t living in?

    They did go to get the dogs when things calmed down, did that mean a job was obtained by the husband and the child better, don’t know but that’s when the problems started occuring … they didn’t have the money to pay the bill so instead of working something out, maybe monthly payments or something, the vet held them and took donations from caring people trying to help out.

    Then when it looked like an answer had arrived … he killed the dogs.

    Saying they are aggressive after the fact is pretty odd to me. If they were that bad then why wait months to kill them? It makes no sense to me why the vet took money for their care from people and then when they were about to go elsewhere, kill them. Even if it was a just an random act of fate, it’s a cruel one.

    I sure don’t believe that vets should be dumped on and I sure don’t believe that they shouldn’t get paid. Most of us have friends and family that we can rely upon to get us thru the hard times … it shouldn’t have to be like this but for some folks it is.

    It’s heartless to say the least and the vet should at least apologize to the family, the little girl and the people they took money from.

    1. “I sure don’t believe that vets should be dumped on”

      The vet killed a family’s pets. They were not medically hopeless/suffering, they had a family who wanted them, they had the support of a rescue and others in the community willing to help. The vet made the choice to kill them. If that doesn’t warrant calling out, what does?

      1. I think you mis – interpert my statement. I do believe this man was in the wrong. The statement was meant in a general type of way … because I don’t think that people should dump their animals on vets … or anyone really.

      2. Yes I did misinterpret – thank you for clarifying. As a generalization, I agree it’s unfair when people “dump” pets anywhere. But I do think that word is used too broadly. For example, driving your unwanted pet to a rural area and putting him out the car qualifies as dumping to my mind. Surrendering your pet to a shelter is not. Back to this specific case, I think this family found themselves overwhelmed by misfortune and the dogs just got back-burnered for longer than would have happened in ordinary circumstances.

  5. If the people tried to get their dogs back and were refused, then the vet was basically holding the dogs for ransom. There are better ways of getting paid than that–a payment plan, for example. As they have probably learned by now, killing the dogs didn’t result in their getting paid, though it sure did punish that family.

  6. The vet should have relinquished the animals to the rescue and sued for what he was owed. Killing the dogs was spiteful, and did not save him one thin dime nor do anything to result in payment. A man who can do something like that has NO BUSINESS BEING A VET. Period. But he’s not alone, there are quite a few nutjobs in that profession. I really hope the public outcry succeeds in closing them down.

  7. I remember being young and broke, a time or two I had an injured animal I could not afford to get the animal professional help they deserved and I remember clearly considedring the option of dropping the animal at the vet where at least I thought they would survive. I never actually did this but I sympathize with the owners that do and the vets left to deal with that situation, not the ones that ask the public to help an animal they destroyed. At the same time, I am sure these kinds of things affect the cost of the vet bill for all responsible pet owners.

Leave a Reply