Dog Eat Dog Out There

So, apparently Emergency Veterinarian Care Facilities are as big a ripoff as auto repair shops.

My saga:

Last weekend, while driving up my dirt road, I heard my dog yelp (I’ll spare both you and me the retelling of that part). I got her in the car and began phoning my local upstate vet. He wasn’t answering or returning phone calls even though I was told by a few people that he’s usually really quick about it. I ended up driving 45 minutes away to the closet 24 hour emergency room. I got her inside and within minutes the doctor was out with a laundry list of procedures they wanted to do her, totaling $1500. The shock I was already in only expanded when I realized that none of it included the repair of what the issue was and that it was mostly taking x rays, blood and making her comfortable until Monday. We would have to take her somewhere that had an orthopedic surgeon then. I was beyond apoplectic, $1500 for basically nothing, I wasn’t having it. I didn’t even know what to do, and I was still frantically dialing the local vet but to no avail. Finally one of the assistants came out and told me I should just drive another 40 minutes to place that had surgeons so we wouldn’t have to move her around. They gave her some pain meds and I was out the door with $150 spent. She was a little more calm on the ride down, but I wasn’t because I knew that I was just going to another possible ripoff place. We arrived, they ushered her in and informed me she needed x rays and possibly had a cracked a pelvic bone. I agreed to the $300 for the x rays (even though I was told that they couldn’t sedate her because she had been in an accident so they really weren’t going to get the proper x rays because they wouldn’t be able to open her legs). I had no choice but to agree (they were concerned her lungs were raspy). The good news came soon, nothing broken but her hip was dislocated.

The bad news, I had 3 choices: Since they couldn’t sedate her they’d have to keep her medicated until Monday and then they could do one of these things.

  1. Pop it back in and then put a splint on, which according to them was an iffy proposition because 30% of the time the leg will pop out again, $2500.
  2. Operation #1, sew a flap over the area so it can’t pop out again, $5500
  3. Operation #2, something about cutting the ball of the joint away, also $5500. Of course, there are medical terms for all of these but I’m telling you how it sounded to me and after I heard $5500 it was a lot of blah, blah, blah.

Luckily, during this consultation my upstate vet called back. When I explained what was going on and he heard that they had no intention of just popping it back in that minute and wanted her to be on pain meds for 2 days, a string of expletives came flying out of his mouth. He asked me where I was and how long it would take me to get there, which was an hour and a half and it was already 9pm on a Saturday night. Sure enough he said come on over and we packed her back up for the drive north, not before dropping another $500 for virtually nothing.

Within one hour of arriving at his clinic, my dog was sedated, in a splint and I had charged $355 on my credit card. It is now 1 week later and she is doing great. Still a little sore in her paw but the hip is just fine.

Look, I get that these emergency clinics can really save an animal’s life, but there are times that they are just trying to scare you (I left out of the story all the scary things they were “worried about”) and of course it’s a good thing that I had reliable technician that came through for me. Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Find a reliable technician….oh yeah, out of my mouth, kinda just like I tell you to find for your car.



About dontgetwrenched

Elayne Kling, was the owner of a downtown Manhattan auto repair shop for 25 years and recently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Elayne knows the particular ins and outs of the auto repair world and keeps up her blog because people will always need help navigating the potential pitfalls of that world. Due to the crazy NYC real estate market she has since closed down her shop and started a new business called Projects Unlimited Inc., helping other small businesses.
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