BB's Unnecessary Suffering and Avoidable Death

On Saturday at 6:41PM, June 5, 2010, a beautiful Oregon Summer day, I carried my best friend from Parkway Veterinary Hospital to DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital where her unwarranted and unjustified suffering was ended. This is the story of that day:

1PM - 1:15PM -- That afternoon my wife told me that BB was doing her “slow motion” walk - a condition with which we were familiar with from 2 previous episodes in early December. On each of those 2 occasions our regular vet infused fluids within a half hour and she lived trouble free until this fateful day.

1:15PM - 1:30PM -- Unfortunately, it being Saturday and after 1PM our regular vet was no longer available so we arranged to take her to Parkway Veterinary Hospital in Lake Oswego for infusion of fluids. We had previously taken her to Parkway for a couple years and had been assured she would get necessary fluids. With that assurance I rushed BB to Parkway.

1:30PM - 1:45PM -- I carried BB into the lobby of Parkway and the receptionist asked if my dog was BB which I confirmed. About the same time a female veterinarian assistant came out of a door and walked towards me with my dog in my arms. I tried to hand BB to the assistant but she refused - insisting I put her down, which I did. After giving me a short lecture on why she couldn’t take BB out of my arms she then asked for her leash. I told her that BB could not walk and I did not carry in her leash - adding that she would have to carry her. I watched in shock as she walked away looking for a leash for my pitifully weak dog.

About the same time the receptionist got my attention and said she could not find me in the data base. I turned to address her problem and when I turned back I saw the assistant pulling BB with a taught leash looped around her neck. I was stunned to see how indifferent the woman was to the obvious difficulty and effort BB was having keeping up with the attendant’s near dragging her. I called to the woman and told her that she had to carry BB. I believe I said: “What are you doing? Can’t you see how weak she is? I told you, you have to carry her.” Without a word she picked up my dog and carried her a few feet more to the door into the back room. She set BB down and opened the door and then made a show of trying to hold the door open and handle BB. Ultimately, the attendant grabbed her by the collar and dragged her through the door. I suddenly found myself very concerned.

1:45PM - 2:00PM -- It was about 2PM when Melanie Mielke, the veterinarian, came out to tell me “She’s a sick little girl” and I asked how she was? The vet told me BB was “resting comfortably” and they were going to do some blood work before iv fluids. I continued to stress the need to replace the fluids that were causing her condition. She told me that she could see how we, BB and I, had a “special relationship” and how they would take good care of her. I conveyed the previous history and offered to get her previous blood work from my regular vet, which was faxed to parkway at 2:12PM.

2:30PM - 2:45PM -- The vet called me to an exam room and went over the blood work pointing out some indicators of BB’s problem. I asked again how my dog was doing and Mielke said “BB is resting comfortably” and they were taking good care of her and were preparing to infuse fluids. The vet was very reassuring and gave no indication of anything other than BB resting comfortably in their care. I believed her.

Somewhere during my thanking her for her kindness and reassurance, I voiced my concern over the assistant and her treatment of my little friend. Further explaining why I had begun a holistic approach to BB’s health at Holistic Pet Vet Clinic. There is no doubt in my mind that in my panic and anxiety I must have offended Mielke.
An aside: I live with the belief that I may have been stupid for complaining to Mielke, but I have no other explanation for why she withheld fluids and deceiving me with assurances that “BB was resting comfortably”.

4:10PM - 4:30PM -- Dr. Mielke called me into an examination room to view several x-rays. She went over the x-rays and pointed out that BB’s heart was 1/3 the size of the cavity it was occupying, but the vet assured me BB was comfortable and getting her IV fluids. Ms. Mielke also pointed out that there were “fluids in BB’s stomach” and she asked if BB drank a lot of water that day. I told her I did not know, but that I did see her try to drink water before I brought her in and that she couldn’t drink water. The picture she painted looked grim, but her calm tone and reassurance that BB was resting comfortably and getting fluids diminished my fear. The truth of BB’s condition was deliberately being withheld from me.

5:10PM - 5:30PM -- The vet called me into an exam room and advised me to take BB to an emergency hospital. I asked what was going on and was again told that “BB was resting comfortably, but that she needed an ultrasound to determine what her illness. She suggested I take her to one of a few other animal emergency hospitals and after some discussion we decided on DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital. Again, her calm and reassuring manner gave no indication of serious trouble. Even when I asked if I could just take her home there was little sense of urgency other than telling me that BB needed emergency care.

5:30PM - 5:40PM -- Parkway staff and the vet gathered in the entry/waiting area and began processing the $760 bill. We were all chatting casually. As I handed the signed receipt to the receptionist Mielke announced ove my shoulder “Here she comes.” and I saw the aid carry BB through the door she had disappeared through more than 4 hours earlier.

Ms. Mielke was still calmly talking when the aid placed BB on the floor at my feet. My concern was so assuaged I hadn’t even look down at her until she shuffled a step or two and fell against my leg. In my life I have never before seen such a terribly suffering living thing.

BB was gasping for air. I dropped to my knees and held her steady, rubbing her chest and was horrified by the pounding of her heart into my palm. The force of her heart was literally filling the palm of my hand. I could actually feel the shape of her pounding heart and feared it would burst through her chest if I took my hand away. BB’s breathing seemed to be timed to her heart beat. It was impossible to understand. With each beat of her shrinking heart her cheeks blow out as though puffing and with each puff her body shuddered. She couldn’t raise her head to look at me. I could see she was completely exhausted and her body was no longer in her control. She was dying a gruesome death in the lobby of Parkway Veterinary Hospital and everybody stood by watching.

Still on my knees and trying to reconcile my image of BB resting comfortably, I asked “What happened?” and the vet said “You need to take her to DoveLewis.” I asked “Do something.” And again “Take her to DoveLewis.” was all I got.

BB was dying with every heartbeat and the medical personnel in who’s care I relied wanted no more to do with us. Arguing or making demands seemed unlikely to do anything other than extend BB’s dreadful suffering.

With BB cradled in my arms I carried her to the car with the vet and a staff person carrying her collar, leash, x-rays and a container of IV fluid.

About 6:15PM - 6:30PM -- I carried her near limp body in my arms for the last time. Her fur had begun to matte, her nose dry and cracked, cheeks now growing stiff from the gasping. It is unimaginable what she must have felt as her airways began slowly closing from lack of moisture. Her throat and tongue and airways now tacky from loss of saliva. All I could think of was living hell she was enduring. My wonderful little pal, resting comfortably, was now in the throes of death.

The DoveLewis vet explained that with each beat of her heart she was losing blood from a ruptured stomach tumor. He said that as BB’s blood seeped into her stomach her heart beat escalated in an effort to circulate less and less blood to her organs. The DoveLewis vet was equivocating on possible treatment and I could not possibly allow her to suffer another minute and ordered her death.

This was a death that could have been avoided with medical care, but Mielke deliberately wasted the last 4 hours of BB’s life deceiving me and withholding care from my beloved pet.

How could a veterinarian deny water for a dehydrated animal for over 4 hours when the initial evaluation indicated dehydration.

My pet’s symptoms and history identified the cause of her shock and collapsing circulatory system and in spite of that knowledge BB was relegated to “resting comfortably” on a table, behind a window, where the Parkway staff could see her so says Melanie Mielke of Parkway Veterinary Hospital, Lake Oswego, OR, 97035.

With x-rays verifying a shrinking heart and unknown abdominal fluids Mielke waited another 90 minutes before suggesting taking BB to an emergency hospital.

What could possibly go on in a person's mind that they would allow such suffering of an innocent animal?

Carl W. Lemieux
971 732-4549

Parkway Veterinary Animal Hospital reply