Veterinary Watchdog Group Not Only Allows an Incompetent Substitute Practitioner to Get Away With Killing Junior but Scolds His Owner for Complaining
"J' ai eu l'impression que ce vétérinaire ne pensait qu' à l'argent et que l'état de santé de mon chat le laissait complètement indifférent. Les vétérinaires font ce qu'ils veulent sur les animaux."
-- Graziella Croisé
When seven-year-old Junior developed a fever and stopped eating in June of 2010 his devoted owner, Graziella Croisé, took him to see an unidentified veterinarian doing business on l'avenue Charles-de-Gaule in Laon, approximately one-hundred-twenty kilometers north of Paris. Because he also was underweight and had a weak pulse, the practitioner initially diagnosed him to be suffering from either the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) or Feline Leukemia (FeLV). Despite the fact that Junior was listless and had pale gums, it apparently never occurred to him that he also might be suffering from anemia.
He therefore gave Junior an injection of antibiotics. He also gave Croisé a week's supply of pills to give him plus a prescription to be filled. She returned to the surgery two days later at which time a blood sample was taken at the tune of €63.95.
Croisé made a third visit to the veterinarian two days later and that was when he informed her that Junior had tested positive for FIV and was going to die. He gave him another injection and relieved her of an additional €160.
At that same time she also learned to her horror that not only had Junior been anesthetized when the blood sample was taken but that the veterinarian also had extracted a tooth and cleaned the remaining teeth. Since both the administration of general anesthesia and the removal of the tooth were undertaken before the blood sample had been analyzed and, more importantly, without her knowledge and consent, she believes that they contributed to Junior's unnecessary suffering and premature death exactly four days after his initial visit to the surgery.
The utterly deplorable situation is further complicated by the fact that Junior was treated by a substitute veterinarian. It is unclear from the record, however, exactly when Croisé learned of that.
Croisé, who also cares for four other cats and a dog, accordingly filed an official complaint against the veterinarian with the Conseil régional de l'ordre des vétérinaires Picardie (CROV) in Amiens. (See photo above of her with her poodle.)
On all counts she has just cause to complain. First of all, anesthetizing a cat is dangerous business that never should be undertaken except in emergencies. It is so dangerous in fact that some veterinarians require owners to sign consent forms beforehand.
In this regard it is important to remember that even sedating a cat in order to either transport it on an airplane or to untangle its fur can have deadly consequences and the administration of general anesthesia is far more dangerous than that. (See Cat Defender posts of April 7, 2009 and December 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Pregnant Minskin Arrives in Oregon Frozen as Solid as a Block of Ice Following a Fatal Cross-Country Flight in the Cargo Hold of an Airliner" and "Tavia's Desperate Pleas for Help Fall Upon the Deaf Ears of the Evangelical Who Abandoned Her and the Heartless Officials and Citizens of Kissimmee.")
Besides being potentially lethal, anesthesia is superfluous when it comes to taking blood and urine samples. Even in the case of a frightened cat veterinarians have muzzles, bags, gloves, towels, and various stereotactic devices at their disposal which preclude the need for intubating and knocking out a cat as cold as a stone.
Much more importantly, a pre-anesthetic blood screening would have detected Junior's anemia and warned the veterinarian against administering general anesthesia and extracting the tooth. In hindsight, it now appears that what he desperately needed was either oral medication or an emergency blood transfusion.
Although it has not been disclosed how the substitute veterinarian arrived at his diagnosis that Junior was FIV-positive, the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test is the usual tool even though it is far from being one-hundred per cent accurate. As a consequence, it usually is supplemented by the Western Blot test.
In particular, kittens born to FIV-positive mothers will test positive for the disease under the ELISA regimen. Conscientious veterinarians therefore usually wait three to six months before testing them again with the Western Blot protocol. By that time the inherited antibodies usually have disappeared.
"Mon chat était certainement condamné mais ce qui lui a été fait par ce vétérinaire l' a achevé de façon inhumaine," Croisé told L'Union of Reims on June 17, 2010. (See "Son chat est mort du syndrome d'immunodéficience acquise, elle accuse le vétérinaire.")
In that regard the facts tend to indicate that she is only partially correct. In particular, FIV rarely is the death sentence that she and her veterinarian allege. Au contraire, most cats suffering from the malady live long, healthy, and relatively normal lives without any symptoms at all. (See The Orange County Register, August 24, 2008, "A New Look at FIV" and the Grand Traverse Herald of Traverse City, Michigan, September 2, 2008, "'Un-touchable' Cats Get New Lease on Life.")
Although there is not any per se treatment for FIV, infected cats should be fed good quality food and have their health closely monitored because any infection could be potentially life-threatening. Nevertheless, since the disease is transmitted by bites, it is not always necessary to even segregate these cats from their non-infected playmates.
Since it therefore seems unlikely that FIV was the cause of Junior's untimely death, suspicion falls upon the veterinarian's failure to diagnose and treat his anemia as the most likely culprit. Unless diagnosed and aggressively treated in a timely manner, anemia can be fatal. (See Cat Defender post of April 18, 2010 entitled "Ally's Last Ride Lands Her in a Death Trap Set by an Uncaring and Irresponsible Supermarket Chain and a Bargain Basement Shelter.")
In spite of all of that, the CROV sided wholeheartedly with the veterinarian and curtly dismissed Croisé's complaint in either late December of 2010 or in early January of 2011. It did not stop there, however, but availed itself of the opportunity presented to it in order to rake Croisé over the coals for having the temerity to even complain.
"Les actions thérapeutiques et de diagnostic du vétérinaire se sont inscrites dans la continuité et que la préocédure n'atablit aucune faute déontologique crédible à la charge du vétérinaire, lequel a rapporté avoir subi des injures et dénigrements non justifiés de la part de la plaignante qui a attaqué la profession dans son ensemble par voie de presse," the CROV ruled according to the January 5, 2011 edition of L'Union. (See "Chat mort du syndrome d'immunodéficience acquise: la vétérinaire hors de cause.")
If that simply absurd example of a professional whitewash sounds familiar it is because Croisé received even less satisfaction from the CROV than did Blaydon Burn resident Heather Irwin when she complained to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) about an incompetent veterinarian who nearly killed her cat, Felix. (See Cat Defender post of June 17, 2010 entitled "Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues.")
So, in the end, Croisé was left with only the satisfaction that she did not elect to have Junior's life snuffed out like so many other unconscionable cat owners do but instead stood faithfully by his side until the bitter end. "Je voyais qu'il était en train de mourir," she told L'Union in the June 17, 2010 article cited supra. "Je peux vous assurer qu'il a énormément souffert car je suis restée à ses côtés jusqu' à son dernier souffle."
Like so many other cat and dog owners all over the world, Croisé learned much too late that the vast majority of veterinarians care only about money. "J'ai eu l'impression que ce vétérinaire ne pensait qu' à l'argent et que l'état de santé de mon chat le laisait complètement indifférent," she averred to L'Union in the June 17, 2010 article cited supra. "Les vétérinaires font ce qu'ils veulent sur les animaux. Ils sont formatés pour vendre. C'est ça qui me dégoûte."
As far as Croisé's complaint about being overcharged is concerned, that is merely par for the course in that most veterinarians, and MDs as well, seldom pass up an opportunity in order to gouge the public. That is what Brian Burgess of Sandyford in Staffordshire found out firsthand on December 16th when his sixteen-year-old cat suffered what he claims to have been a stroke.
When he first telephoned a local veterinarian he was told that it would cost him £119 to have his stricken cat dispatched to the devil. After the dirty deed was done, however, the veterinarian turned around and hit him up for £141.59.
"Once again, another institution has jumped on the bandwagon to screw the general public out of money," he complained January 16th in a letter to the editors of The Sentinel of Stoke-on-Trent. (See "£141 Put My Pet Cat to Sleep.") "The vets that I knew as a child were dedicated to the welfare of any animal and they were moderate with their fees according to your standard of living. But the new generation of vets is pay up or your animal can suffer, and if you have not got insurance, tough luck."
While it sans doute is true that neither the veterinary nor medical professions any longer have much in the way of compassion for the impecunious, cat owners such as Burgess certainly have not changed their way of thinking. Specifically, when it comes to medicating and attending to the needs of their elderly and sick companions they are every bit as cheap and lazy as their ancestors.
Based solely upon his own words, Burgess apparently contemplated taking even far more drastic measures in order to rid himself of his moral responsibilities to his stricken cat. "Do I take her home and watch her die in agony, take her down to the canal with a brick around her neck, or simply belt her across the head with a hammer?" he asked the readers of The Sentinel.
Individuals like Burgess are so uncaring and such cheapskates that the mere thought of procuring competent veterinary care for their ailing cats is as alien to them as cutting off their own hands. Au fond, they fail to recognize any discernible moral difference between a sick cat and a broken alarm clock; consequently, they view them both simply as objects to be chucked out in the trash once that they have outlived their usefulness.
It also would be interesting to know exactly how Burgess determined that his cat had suffered a Feline Ischemic Encephalopathy (FIE) in that even blood samples, urinalysis, and radiography are not always capable of making that type of sophisticated diagnosis; instead, usually either an MRI or a computed tomography (CT) is required.
Much more importantly, if an FIE is diagnosed early and localized, a full recovery is possible. In such cases, cats usually start to show signs of improvement within seventy-two hours and most return to normal within two to three weeks. Therefore, if Burgess had cared anything about his cat he would have put his precious bob to far better use by procuring treatment for her instead of cruelly and heartlessly having her killed.
None of that in any way obviates the pressing need for legitimate veterinary care that is affordable. As things now stand, many loving but impoverished cat owners are left without any alternative other than to sit idly by and watch their beloved companions die due to a lack of moola.
The odious practice of veterinarians maiming and killing cats, dogs, and other animals while simultaneously cleaning out their owners' pockets is by no means confined to France, Angleterre, and the United States; on the contrary, the practice of veterinary medicine is a racket that does not recognize any boundaries and extends worldwide. Of particular concern are veterinary chains, such as Medivets in England, which employ unqualified assistants at slave wages to perform procedures that should be left to licensed veterinarians. (See Cat Defender post of January 11, 2012 entitled "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years.")
For instance, in March of 2010 public relations consultant Wendy Leow took her beloved three-month-old Shih Tzu, Precious, to a veterinarian in Petaling Jaya in the Malaysian state of Selangor to be treated for a skin problem. Without even performing so much as a skin swab, which is customary in such cases, the practitioner diagnosed Precious to be suffering from the mange.
Dissatisfied with the treatment that Precious was receiving, Yeow took him to another veterinarian in Bricksfield, outside of Kuala Lumpur, who correctly diagnosed him to be suffering only from a common yeast infection and not the mange. Yeow accordingly was advised to put him on a fish diet and to add a teaspoon of yogurt to his food dish.
Unfortunately by that time the damage had been done and it was necessary for the second veterinarian to perform emergency surgery on Precious's ulcerated right eye. Afterwards the eye had to be sutured shut for forty days in order to give it a chance to heal. Despite that effort, his vision has been irreparably damaged due to scarring.
As Yeow was to later learn, the veterinarian who so grotesquely misdiagnosed Precious's condition was not a real veterinarian but only an unqualified assistant. (See photo above of Precious and his damaged eye.)
Even more outrageously, the same surgery killed a one-year-old Pekingese earlier in March of 2009 at its Kuala Lumpur office by botching a routine sterilization. The veterinarian not only punctured the female's intestines but was so careless as to leave behind fur in the wound.
After somehow enduring all of that, the poor dog was left unattended in a deserted clinic to suffer alone. (See photo immediately above.)
The dog's owner who is known only by the nom de guerre of Elsie took the dog to another veterinarian who performed emergency surgery on her but, tragically, was unable to save her life. Adding insult to injury, Elsie was threatened when she had the cheek to complain to the first veterinarian about killing her dog.
"I'm so sad about losing my dog," she told The Star of Kuala Lumpur on September 27, 2010. (See "Beware Bogus Vets.") "I hope someone can do something and stop more animals from dying because of this horrible vet."
It additionally is not uncommon in Malaysia for veterinarians to allow their spouses to treat sick animals. Pet shop owners who practice veterinary medicine without being licensed to do so are another huge problem.
"They not only vaccinate, they do spaying surgery, castration, and so on. And they are cheap," Paul Chelliah of the Malaysian Small Animal Veterinary Association told The Star in the article cited supra. "Some of them are former DVS (Department of Veterinary Services) staff who are not qualified, just assistants previously. Some of them operate from their houses or go house to house. I have confronted some of them but they laughed and challenged me to do something."
Even the United States has its share of bogus and incompetent veterinarians. (See Cat Defender posts of February 14, 2006 and February 26, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Special Agent Fred the Cat Goes Undercover to Help Nab a Quack Vet in Brooklyn Sting Operation" and "The Dark Side of Spay and Neuter: Veterinarian Botched Surgeries and Back Alley Castrations Claim the Lives of Numerous Cats.")
As far greater problem in the land of guns and dollar bills are veterinarians who, although more or less competent, do not have an ounce of respect for the sanctity of feline life. (See Cat Defender post of December 22, 2011 entitled "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.")
The portrait of the veterinary profession that emerges from all of these cases is not a very pretty one. On the one hand, pet owners who take their companions to surgeries are often unwittingly handing them over to be treated by substitutes recruited from parts unknown and with dubious qualifications, unqualified assistants, relatives of licensed practitioners, and outright quacks. On the other hand, there is not any guarantee that even when a licensed practitioner can be secured that either he or she will behave in a competent and professional manner.
Worst of all is the marked disdain that the profession harbors in its malignant bosom for treating and saving animals. Watchdog groups such as the RCVS, CROV, and the despicable American Veterinary Medical Association do not any more police their colleagues than the Better Business Bureau regulates the conduct of its greedy, unscrupulous members.
Caveat emptor therefore is the rule whenever selecting a veterinarian. Moreover, locating an honest, sincere, and competent practitioner is only half the battle; a wheelbarrow chock-full of cash also is needed.
If at all possible, no owner ever should allow a cat to be left alone with a veterinarian. That is the faux pas that Croisé committed and it ended up costing Junior his life.
Photos: L'Union (Croisé), The Star (Precious and the Pekingese).