Woman wants help with vet bills for dog

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 8, 2014

A Charlottetown resident is furious with the P.E.I. Humane Society for refusing to cover at least a part of her vet bill.

Mary Dicks said she adopted a part Maltese, part Shih Tzu dog from the animal shelter on Dec. 20 before noticing that there was blood in the dog’s urine about five days after the animal received its second booster shot on Jan. 9.

Dicks named her adopted dog Holly, hoping it would serve as a companion to her other dog, Dickson, a mix of Maltese and Bijon. Holly was a stray when the Humane Society picked her up. The dog is estimated to be about four years old.

Dicks said she noticed blood in Holly’s urine because she has her dogs trained to urinate on incontinence pads. She took the pads into Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic where a veterinarian did a urinalysis. The test showed white and red blood cells, which is typical of cystitis and infection, according to a letter from the clinic Dicks provided to The Guardian.

The test also showed moderate amounts of crystals and a small amount of cocci bacteria. Holly was treated with antibiotics.

Dicks said she noticed more blood on the pads, periodically, two weeks later.

Ultimately, the vet recommended cystotomy surgery to explore the bladder and remove all stones present. The cost of the surgery is about $600, before taxes. That doesn’t include $85 for bloodwork.

Dicks alleges Holly had the condition while she was still in the care of the Humane Society, and that seems to be supported by the vet that treated Holly who wrote in a letter to the animal shelter that the dog’s condition “might suggest a longer standing urinary tract issue or previous vaginitis that had never been addressed with Holly’s previous owners.’’

Dicks said the Charlottetown vet sent off a letter and X-rays to the Humane Society detailing Holly’s condition and care.

“Surely, they’ll turn around and help her,’’ Dicks said, noting that she’s gotten nowhere with the Humane Society in terms of getting help with the bill.

Dicks said she was told by the society that the shelter’s volunteers would have noticed blood in Holly’s urine.

“I told her they wouldn’t have noticed it unless they were looking for it. The only reason I noticed it was because I had them trained on puppy pads. Something should have tipped them off.’’

Dicks said the animal shelter is refusing to pay any portion of the bill, telling Dicks that if she can no longer care for Holly she has the option of surrendering the dog back to them.

Kelly Mullally, executive director of the Humane Society, said Holly was healthy when she left the shelter.

“All of the animals that are adopted from the Humane Society are medically checked,’’ Mullally said. “We have a shelter veterinarian who is a member of the (P.E.I. Veterinary Medical Association).

“We can’t run expensive diagnostics on every single animal that comes through our hands. We don’t have the resources for that, obviously, but we do basic medical care, for sure, and an animal is deemed to be either healthy when it goes home as part of the adoption or, if there is something that we are aware of, we have a conversation with the adopter and it’s part of the adoption contract and we make them aware of an issue that could be coming down the road.’’

Adopters are also given access to free pet insurance for 30 days after the adoption, as long as it’s activated online within 72 hours of getting the pet home.

Mullally said it then becomes the owner’s responsibility to care for their pet and if they cannot do so, they will take the animal back.

Dicks said she did activate the insurance but noted that it doesn’t cover major expenses.

“Holly wasn’t healthy when she was adopted out. That stone was there for some time. Why didn’t they discuss (the situation with my vet). It’s like they don’t want to have anything to do with the vet or her findings. I’m basically being told ‘Here is the animal, now kiss off’.’’

Dicks has since turned to the Internet for financial help, asking for donations on the website www.gofundme.com, under the search ‘To give Holly a second chance in life’.

So far, she’s raised about $800, money Dicks says she will use for the surgery on Feb. 28 (she’s trying to get it moved up), as well as followup visits to the vet and any medications the dog might need.

“If nothing comes of it, I hope it puts potential adopters on their toes when they do to adopt. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken Holly to a vet for an independent assessment immediately after the adoption was completed (but) hindsight is wonderful.’’

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Mary Dicks with her pet dogs.