Formal Complaint Against The Animal Emergency Clinic
2112/2306 Memorial Parkway Southwest, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 533-7600
Dear Mr. Charles F. Franz, DVM, Executive Director, Alabama Veterinary Medical Association ,
I don't really know where to begin. Let me start by saying, Alexander was our beloved Great Dane. He was diagnosed with bloat Saturday and passed away Sunday. When we saw that something was wrong, my Wife(Who has MS and is in a wheelchair) and I (Retired Army Veteran) panicked and really stopped thinking.
At approximately 8:30 pm, we went to the first Animal ER Clinic that the Vet (Ardmore Animal Companion Hospital), we were seeing, referred us to in the past, but never really had a need for.
At approximately 9:00 pm, we arrived at the Animal Emergency Clinic of North Alabama, 2112 Memorial Parkway Southwest, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 533-7600. I approached the front door of the building and noticed right away that the receptionist behind the counter had to push a button to allow access in to the clinic. I got my Wife out of the car and placed her in her wheelchair and I got Alexander to come with us. The receptionist pushed the button behind the counter to grant us access into the clinic. She handed us some paperwork to fill out.
At approximately 9:15 pm, we were taken to a room to examine Alexander. The Vet Technician came in with a form and had me sign where the Vet visit had already incurred a $78 fee. I was thinking, "Animal ER, ok this was expected." Then the Vet Tech informed me that they are going to run a battery of tests to determine what is going on. So, Alexander walked lethargically back with the Vet Tech. So, we waited. The Vet Tech returned and said that they needed to do x-rays and that I needed to sign another form incurring more money. I was thinking, "I will do anything. Just save my Boy!. You want my blood, I would willingly give everything." After the x-rays the Vet Tech returned and stated that the Doctor would be in to see us and explain the x-rays.
At approximately 10:10 pm, Dr. Lowery entered the room and stated that Alexander had bloat. We were reeling from the rapidness of the news and how fast Alexander was going downhill. So, we told the doctor do what it takes. He left the room and the Vet Tech returned. She had another 2 forms with 2 estimates, one for over a $1000 to run a tube down Alexander's throat and the anesthesia to put him to sleep for the procedure to relieve the bloat build up and the second for $3000 to $4000 for surgery to save Alexander's life should the tube procedure not work. I told the Vet Tech we didn't have that much money and she stated to us that we could always euthanize him. I looked at her like she was crazy and almost yelled through gnashed teeth and tears, "˜That was unacceptable!" We even asked if they would work a payment plan out and the Vet Tech told us no. At that point, we felt cornered and I had the feeling that our precious Boy's life was being dangled in front of us with the intent that if we did not have money at that moment they would allow him to die. My Wife went hysterical and I did not cope with the situation well either. So, we both called our families and friends out of desperation for the money to save him. Mean while the Vet had Alexander in the back on the operating table, unwilling to do anything for some relief. When no one else was able to help us I received a phone call from my Mom telling me about her Vet in Tennessee that would take care of Alexander. We begged the ER to help us because we knew that the Vet in Pulaski, TN, was at least another hour away and they just shook their head no. So, we made contact with the Vet in Tennessee while the ER took their time releasing Alexander back to us. I kept telling the receptionist that I needed my Boy back so we could get him treated in time. Approximately 30 minutes went by before they brought him up and the ER made me pay approximately $669 before releasing him to me. Due to the fact that the front door was magnetically locked and I could not just leave I wrote a check, under duress, for the amount and told them it was no good until Tuesday. The receptionist ran the check anyway even with me standing there telling her repeatedly that the money would not be in until the 18th. She stated to me that the check would still be ran and that the District Attorney would come after me if it bounced. Again, I told her that all they had to do was wait until Tuesday.
At approximately 11:00 pm, we finally got out of the Animal Emergency Clinic of North Alabama and headed for Pulaski, TN to the Vet there.
At approximately 12:00 am, we arrived at the Pulaski Vet. He immediately took Alexander in for surgery.
At approximately 12:45 am, the Vet came out to us and explained that Alexander's spleen was destroyed along with most of his stomach. He had to remove the dead and infected tissue. He stated that for the amount of money we were charged by the Animal ER in Huntsville, that they should have at least aspirated the stomach. That would have made his chances of survival better.
At approximately 2:30 am, we were called back to see our Boy. The Vet warned us that because of the damage the chance of survival was greatly diminished. But, there was still hope. So, we saw he was stable and we were torn to pieces. We told our Boy we loved him and the Vet put him up to recover.
At approximately 3:30 am, we arrived back at our home in Athens, AL.
At approximately 6:00 am, the Vet in Tennessee telephoned us to come up and see Alexander. We immediately hurried out the door.
At approximately 7:00 am, we arrived at the Vet's Office and visited with Alexander. The Vet explained to us what he was doing everything he could to fight the infection and toxins in Alexander's body and that Alexander was not out of the woods yet. We prayed over our Boy that the Lord would care for him and we left.
At approximately 1:00 pm, we received a telephone call from our Vet informing us that Alexander had passed away. We were shattered. We went and took Alexander's body back here to be home with us. I washed his body while my Wife sat in her wheelchair grieving our loss. My Wife is now inconsolable because Alexander's death. She wakes up all the time and calls out for Alexander. Due to her MS and the stress we may have to take her to her doctor. She is constantly crying herself to sleep.
Now, this is where I want to make my complaint against the Animal Emergency Clinic in Huntsville, AL for their neglect in ensuring that the life of Alexander could be saved. All because we had no money at that moment. I request that you conduct a formal investigation into this matter. I felt taken advantage of and overcharged. The surgery that the Huntsville Animal ER wanted to charge $3000 to $4000 only costed me $440 at the Tennessee Vet. Something is terribly wrong. Because of this, I had the check for $669 cancelled. I am contacting the media. I will be publishing letters, pictures, and videos of Alexander to other agencies. He did not deserve to suffer. He was 3 years old. He just turned 3 a couple of weeks ago. I was training him to be my Wife's Service Dog to assist her where she needed it. He is now buried in our front yard and I will decide soon to plant a tree or flowers over his grave. It is hard for us because Saturday he was romping and playing and Sunday he was gone. The only comfort we have now is knowing that we will see him again. What may seem like seconds to him will seem like eternity for us. Now, I am seeking to ensure that this doesn't happen to someone else like me. Yes, I will be doing everything legally in my power to hold the ER accountable. Well, I am gonna go for now. God bless You all.
Review about: Emergency Veterinary Care.