A Cautionary Tail: Gateway Animal Hospital


In the years I’ve been a customer of Gateway Animal Hospital on Los Feliz Boulevard at the Atwater Village/Glendale border I’ve had nothing but good things to say about the veterinary services they’ve provided my dogs and cats.

But that’s all changed now. I’ll never go back there — not even to have the stitches removed that they had to put in to close the nasty tail gash (pictured above) our 10-week-old pup “mysteriously” sustained this morning at some disasterous point during the 90 minutes that elapsed from when my wife Susan and I left our Ranger (one of those four pups we rescued during the Utah stretch of our roadtrip vacation last month) to be examined, microchipped, flea-bathed and innoculated to the time we came to pick her up.

Let me say that again (and attempt to keep emotions and expletives in check): we took our entirely healthy and well-adjusting pup into a licensed and established and respected animal clinic for the veterinary equivalent of a no-brainer: shots and a bath. For no extra charge we got her back a nervous wreck with a sutured-up slice n the base of her tail and one of those cone collars she’s now gotta wear for the next two fucking weeks.

Can I get some parvo with that?

And you wanna know the most awesomest thing? Those responsible folks at Gateway don’t know how something so fucking irresponsible and traumatic happened.

vet1.jpgWhen we brought Ranger in the attending vet’s initial examination was positive and revealed what we already knew: that we were guardians to a healthy and happy pup, and we left Ranger in what I’d come to trust to be Gateway’s professional and meticulous care.

When we returned shortly before noon, we were oddly ushered into one of the examination rooms where instead of being reunited with Ranger we were somberly met by a senior staffer with the bad news that some sort of accident had happened. Before we could react the guy even had the gall to question whether we had brought the dog in injured to begin with and when we dismissed such a ridiculous implication he quickly back pedaled and said that it was figured the “serious wound” had been caused while the dog was on the premises.

He went on to explain that Ranger purportedly hadn’t been left near any other animals and so far the only thing being admitted by the handlers was that she was left alone for “a few moments” during her bath. So it’s all just a giant mystery stitched up in an enigma that he said he’ll be taking very seriously and investigating. But from my perspective you don’t need to be a detective to understand someone fucked up and isn’t of a mind to admit it.

Sorry, but that’s more than enough bullshit to keep me from taking an animal in there ever again. All I’m picturing is someone slamming her tail in a door or dropping a sharp instrument or allowing her too near an aggressive animal, and each time it adds up to me not being able to trust a place that I need to be able to trust. I have no doubt there are people who’ve gone to Gateway with their pets a helluva lot longer than I have and who’ve never experienced anything negative. The hospital isn’t successful because it fails its patients like it did Ranger, but even if she’s the exception to the rule I’m going to take irrevocable exception to it and make sure this first cut is the last.

21 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tail: Gateway Animal Hospital”

  1. Poor Ranger!! I hope he’s okay. And I totally agree… that one injury on premesis is too many. Good luck in your search for a new place to take your doggies.

  2. OMFG!!!

    Thank you for posting this. It’s bad enough that this happened to poor Ranger, but the clinic’s behavior afterwards was EXCEEDINGLY inappropriate and unprofessional. WOW.

    I highly recommend Dr. Martin at Parkview Pet Clinic. Your fellow Metroblogger Ruth666 goes there too.


    Good luck!

  3. I certainly hope you’re pressing for an investigation into this matter with Animal Services, or whoever would look into this sort of occurance.
    Pretty nasty, thanks for writing about it!

  4. Thanks for the concern and the tip Jenny. And yes David we are contacting the Califronia Board of Examiners in Veterinary Medicine as well as the California Veterinary Medical Association urging them to investigate the matter.

  5. I used to go to Gateway as well, until a new vet there gave me poor advice about treatment of my dog’s cancer ( a senior vet corrected him).

    Since then I’ve gone to Warren Animal Hospital on Riverside near Fletcher. It’s a small place with only one vet, but he is very concientious and friendly. Also since it is so small, you can almost always walk right in and see the doctor quickly. As an added bonus, it is very inexpensive. I highly recommend it.

  6. I hope you keep pix of your pet in the state it came out — and you didn’t pay. If they insisted that you pay, threaten to sue. Such “mistake” is unacceptable and unforgivable. If it was me, I would go to an other vet clinic, have the pet reexamined to make sure it’s all right, and have Gateway foot the bill. Something I’ve learned in this town is that there are a lot of people who pretend to be what they’re not — including vets.
    [FYI, I liove in Santa Monica, and go to the Pet Medical Center on 14th St.– excellent, both in care and pricing]

  7. OHMIGOD, poor baby!

    I’m not sure where you live, but I have been going to the OHMIGOD, poor baby!

    I’m not sure where you live, but I have been going to the

  8. Well, he may currently be the posterboy for uncomfortableness but that Ranger is quite the spanky young doggie. Sorry to hear about that mess. I’ll caution everyone about that witch on La Brea just south of Melrose. I forget the name but I’m sure she must drive a Rolls with what she charges.

  9. Please keep us up to date on what their “investigation” turns up. (Maybe you can tell me offline which vet you had.) Becky has never been anywhere else and of course we credit them with bring her through the distemper with no lasting damage so I can’t imagine taking her anywhere else. But she is due for her vaccinations so maybe it’s time to find somewhere else.

  10. go far far away from this palce – i go tmy cats spayed there — and then i TRIED to bring my 1st dog there – thank god they were unable to fit here it ! I’ve heard NOTHING but bad things since….including their tendancies to HOLD dogs fof people who can’t pay right away. GATEWAY is totally a place top STAY AWAY FROM !
    Go to Arden in Glendale if you want PROPER treatment by QUALIFIED vets !

  11. This is absolutely horrible and inexcusable! I know everyone is recommending people but out of every vet I have ever been to (cats or dogs) Rancho Park Vet Clinic is the best – you’re there the whole time and they care as much about pets as you do. I cannot speak highly of any vet ever – clean, professional, and more than helpful. I wouldn’t take my boys ANYWHERE else.

  12. OMFG … I cannot believe the audacity of these people to try and suggest you brought the dog in that way! As if poor Ranger hasn’t been through enough in his young life already. I agree with LA Frog, I would have him re-examined by another vet to make sure there aren’t any other surprises they did not tell you about, and absolutely send them the bill. (You should check with Wil and Anne for the name of the Vet who takes care of all of their animals.) My heart goes out to all three of you. If this happened to one of my dogs, I would be a total basket case. Good luck, and (of course) let us know how you make out.

  13. Will, I’m sickened to hear of your experience. It is inexcusable.Please consider filing a complaint with the CA Veterinary Medical Board: http://www.vmb.ca.gov/.

    I too was a long-time Gateway client, and had no negative experiences there for many years. However, their success begat chaos, and during my last few visits there, the waiting room brought to mind a street scene in Calcutta… wall-to-wall people and sick animals elbow-to-elbow is NOT a good mix… the last time I was there I waited 1 1/2 hours, and when I commented on the wait to Dr. J., he had the nerve to reply: “yeah, I know – so let’s get on with it.” (!)

    I’m sure they will try to cover this up at all costs. I’m just glad Ranger’s tail could be saved.

  14. This is horrifying!

    Accidents do happen (unfortunately) but what’s really wrong here is that they made no effort to explain or apologize – WTF? Had you not noticed the stitches would they have not mentioned it and sent you home clueless?

    I was just digging out Dr Martin’s card when I saw that Jenny had already weighed in for me. Thanks! And yes, Parkview Pet Clinic is awesome.

    Best of luck to you both –

  15. A friend sent me to your blog!

    In regards to Gateway: I had to board 2 Jindos I rescued there once. They were good about letting me come & walk them once a day. However, I got to see the back rooms. CRAMPED. And there were always stacks of cats in crates in the tiny hallway. And one of my Jindos was brought in with a lot of stitches. I asked them about 10 times to take out the stitches and they just kept NOT doing it.

    I wouldn’t bring my dog there. A vet I highly recommend Dr. Martin at Warren Animal Hospital on Riverside. He has a small but growing practice and he’s affordable and has always taken great care of my dogs. I send everyone I know to him and so far no one is disappointed. If he knows your dog is a rescue he charges less. He does A LOT of work for the local shelters and is a really great guy.

    That being said, I feel AWFUL for the traumitization of that lil’ angel. She looks so scared and sad. DAMMIT. I’d have raised hell too. I had a nasty experience at Larchmont Animal Hospital, who robs you blind w/overcharging and isn’t worth it at all. They are much worse than gateway. I brought my dog in there w/a vaginal infection and they shaved, probed and irritated her ’til she was crying and convulsing on the floor! Then they acted like nothing was wrong! They had to ANESTHESIZE her and put on the special collar… when all she needed was antibiotics!! THEN they had the nerve to charge me for the anesthesia. I flat-out refused and gave them quite the earful before leaving in a huff (good thing a strong male friend was there with me, Phoebe had to be carried and she’s 73 lbs). I went in w/a dog w/a small infection and left with an agonized dog anesthesized because this idiot of a vet (I think Garcia) basically tortured her for 10 minutes!!

    Animal Specialty Group has also done some awful things. I know because I’ve rescued a few cuties with distemper, and they refused to see them because they had an “infectious disease.” Any vet w/a brain knows that every dog is subjected to distemper virus every day. One w/distemper they saw, then suddenly a year later they wouldn’t see one I brought in at 3:00 a.m. – and she died 2 hours later. She probably couldn’t be saved but still. Pretty awful.

  16. Wil-I highly recomend Studio city animal hospital. They’re really great and VERY caring. Generous too, so sorry for your ranger. Quite unnerving

  17. Such a beautiful baby girl, I hope she comes through this ok, tail and all.

    She looks so miserable in the collar thingy…my shelter boy Radar sends licks and offers to share his Dingo bone with her.


  18. I am glad you posted this …I was about to recommend some people to Gateway. I haven’t been there in about 5 years. I was given a grant of vet $ promised by a rescue group and the voucher was sent to Gateway. I went there for some spay/neuters and testing. All was well and they did a good job. I did, however, have one strange situation where they didn’t have a cat ready (the next day after surgery) because it got loose in the cat kennel area and they couldn’t catch it…it was a bit feral. I went back to look even though they didn’t want me back there. They were a bit agressive toward the cat but got her. She was upset for several days. I haven’t heard alot of rave reviews about Gateway. I haven’t used them as a regular vet because they aren’t really in my locale. I think this place is like most who grow with too many clients and don’t expand vets, qualified vet techs, etc. and building space when their clientele warrants the expansion. Instead I’ve seen numerous hospitals, clinics, etc. whatever you call them use people who they train themselves for their techs who even clean teeth and help with surgeries even though they aren’t well experienced. Some of these people aren’t even sure how to handle a cat, dog or bird. It’s sad. I’ve had to explain at various vet offices how to examine a difficult or feral cat. Most offices want to use anesthetic for any problem child…not quiet patience. My feeling is that even though every vet, clinic, hospital, etc. starts out with good intentions…they seem to be lost for some “good” reason…money, time, lack of help, space who knows. But it is the animal who suffers and thank God that we are here to be their guardians!! Take care all and keep your eyes and mind open. Speak up if it doesn’t feel right, then leave!!!

  19. Let me add another recommendation for Dr. Martin and Dr. Schultz at Parkview Pet Clinic (between Glendale College and Verdugo Park). Dr. Martin is especially great with older animals.

  20. Oh my God, the poor little thing.

    Maybe in the future, you can share this experience with your vets and groomers, and they can make sure to take extra measures to make going to the vet a positive experience: extra treats, toys, that sort of thing.

    Will, I’m so sorry.

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