Gateway Strikes Again

Last August I posted about the laceration injury mysteriously inflicted by Glendale’s Gateway Animal Hospital on the abandoned puppy we rescued earlier that month while on vacation driving through Monument Valley in Utah and how we had dropped Ranger off for shots and a bath and picked her up a couple hours later shocked to find a large stitched-up cut in her tail and little in the way of explanation from Gateway’s personnel. A subsequent complaint to the state’s veterinary medical board resulted in a cursory investigation that the board said yielded nothing to warrant futher disciplinary action. We promptly found another animal hospital and hankfully Ranger recovered from the ordeal fine and fully.

Unfortunately and heartwrenchingly there’s no chance of recovery for the Escobar family’s 2.5-year-old pitbull mix named Bear who was killed by the animal hospital after Godofredo Escobar took Bear in for a routine rabies vaccination only to have it accidentally euthanized as he looked on.

According to the Escobar’s attorney (from the KCBS newstory that aired May 9):

“They go into a room. They hold the dog down. They put some sort of catheter in the dog’s arm. The owner is watching this whole thing as it’s transpiring. The doctor comes in without making any indication that they’re going to put the dog out and administers the euthanasia shot.”

And as if that’s not horrific enough, according to Escobar, after the tragedy and over Bear’s dead body the vet told Godofredo “you could always get another dog.”

18 Replies to “Gateway Strikes Again”

  1. That’s just so frighteningly awful. I’m not even going to click on the link to the story because it will upset me. My dog is overdue for her shots and I haven’t taken her back to Gateway since your incident. (I know, she should really get her shots, she’ll be due for her rabies booster in September.)

    It’s that feeling of helplessness. It’s bad enough when we go to the doctor, but our pets really depend on us to be their advocates at the vet. (Well, I’m not sure they have the mental capacity to say, “Hey, Cybele says they’re okay so I’ll trust that this sharp pointy thing is actually good for me.”)

  2. Will,

    Your note is saddening *beyond words*.

    While I can’t pretend to know the facts or take sides, I will suggest that all of us must use this as a catalyst to assume an active role in understanding and questioning health care professionals (whether they be Paramedics, Pharmacists or Physicians), whenever we harbor doubt, concern or lack of understanding about the care being rendered to ourselves or loved ones… including those with fur, fins or feathers.

    My heart goes out to you and the Escobar family.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  3. I saw this horrifying story when it happened and what I want to know is how they could have watched this happen without asking what was going on. I’m no doctor but even I know there is a HUGE difference between getting a simple inoculation and having them put a catheter in the vein and administer euthanasia – why didn’t the Escobars ASK?

    Believe me, I’m not defending Gateway – I’m just saying we’re all responsible and we have to pay attention and ask questions. And the fact that they’re suing is just gross.

  4. Gross? If euthanizing a pet that’s supposed to be receiving a standard rabies vaccination isn’t actionable malpractice then what is?

  5. As my idol Doug Llewelyn would say….Don’t take the law into your own hands: you take ’em to court.

  6. Ruth, I know you and I are more savvy, but it’s entirely possible the Escobars did not know what a rabies innoculation entailed. Also, there’s a certain amount of respect that we accord to doctors, be they vets or internists–we *assume* they know what they’re doing. I myself have had enough go-arounds with the medical profession to ride everyone’s ass who gets near me with a needle, tongue depressor or stethescope; but not everyone has learned that lesson. :(

  7. This is terrible. I just adopted a lil’ puppy yesterday and I know where I will not be taking him…Does anyone have any good vet recomendations? I live in the South Pasa/Highland Park area and I’m looking for a vet that’s good and nearby.

  8. Ruth you have a general point in regards to the responsibility we all have. But it falls short in this case. Sure if you or I had been there we would’ve said WTF to any catheter insertion and perhaps averted disaster, but finding fault and judgment in the guardian for not doing comes off as pretty rigid.

    And what about the responsibility of the veterinarian who also could have prevented the tragedy if he’d been more attentive to the patient chart or had come into the exam room and applied anything resembling a so-called bedside manner in attempting to explain the procedure and console the dog’s guardian.

    As to finding the Escobars’ decision to litigate preesumpitvely “gross,” I don’t fully understand such a position. I think what’s truly disgusting is that even if Gateway is found culpable in a court of law the level of compensation the plaintiffs would stand to receive for their loss is ridiculously low. Odds are Gateway will attempt to avoid such a judgement by offering some sort of similar pittance as a settlement.

  9. I find Ruth’s sentiments a little on the elitist side. There are many people who would not be familiar with the procedures for euthanization – perhaps this was their first pet?

    Also, the doctor used EXTREMELY poor bedside manner to not alert them to what was going to happen. If you’ve ever had to put an animal to sleep – you know that they prepare you and explain what will happen physically once the shot is administered and they offer to let you say goodbye beforehand. Sounds like this situation was very abrupt.

    As Will mentioned, the Escobars will not receive adequate compensation due to outdated laws that do not recognize pets as barely more than property.

    But I can tell you – I have four pets who I’ve been taking to Gateway for years and we will never be going back. I hope that other clients react the same way to this horrible mishap and it hurts Gateway financially…and more than just one lawsuit could.

  10. I find Ruth’s sentiments a little on the elitist side. There are many people who would not be familiar with the procedures for euthanization – perhaps this was their first pet?

    Also, the doctor used EXTREMELY poor bedside manner to not alert them to what was going to happen. If you’ve ever had to put an animal to sleep – you know that they prepare you and explain what will happen physically once the shot is administered and they offer to let you say goodbye beforehand. Sounds like this situation was very abrupt.

    As Will mentioned, the Escobars will not receive adequate compensation due to outdated laws that do not recognize pets as more than property.

    But I can tell you – I have four pets who I’ve been taking to Gateway for years and we will never be going back. I hope that other clients react the same way to this horrible mishap and it hurts Gateway financially…and more than just one lawsuit could.

  11. I’m definitely not defending Gateway – I said that before. And I’ll add that if that happened to me I would be completely devastated and furious too. What I thought was “gross” was that we’re all so eager to get a lawyer and sue somebody, thinking that has no downside.

    No matter what happened there, I seriously doubt Gateway _intended_ to kill a healthy animal.

    And as for the law treating pets as “property” – well that’s what they are. Now before you all start attacking me, I have been a pet owner all my adult life and nearly had a nervous breakdown when my nearly 20-year-old cat reached the end of her road. I treat my cats better than many people treat their children, blah blah blah. So yes.

    But the truth is, cats and dogs (and rabbits and ferrets and birds and whatever else) are the animals we choose as pets. The are, in fact, property, and it’s appropriate that the law defines them as such.

  12. Will, you absolutely did not say or imply that, ever. And I hope I didn’t seem like I thought you did.

    I’m just saying that we’re all a little to eager to sue.

    For what it’s worth I told my husband this story and he said if that had been our pet he’d sue Gateway for enough to put them out of business, then donate all the money to the SPCA.

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