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Dog dies in vet's care

READ MORE: Dog dies in vet's care
A local dog owner is hoping to save others from the pain he's going through. Terry Rowe recently took his bulldog to have his toenails clipped at a Wilmington veterinarian's office. Thirty minutes later he got a call saying the dog was dead. "He was everything, he waited for me to get home at night, and when you got to sit down or something, he was in your lap." Rowe brought Digger home when he was a puppy. Nine years later Rowe says the bulldog was healthy, loveable and part of the family. Part of his regular care routine was going to the vet to have digger's toenails clipped. Rowe said, "We usually do it at least three to four times a year depending on how his toenails grow. Cause they are very heavy and hard to cut, so that's why we do it at the vets." But on October 24 something went terribly wrong. "We dropped him off approximately at 8:30 and they called me approximately at nine o'clock and said he was dead," Rowe said. Rowe had been taking Digger to the same veterinary clinic for years. But the clinic recently changed hands, and this was Digger's first time with the new doctor at Lacroix Veterinary Hospital. It's common practice to sedate larger dogs before they have their nails clipped, but with breeds like bulldogs, experts say you have to take extra care. Because of the shape of their face, and their large, thick tongues, bulldogs have to be closely monitored, and sometimes intubated, to ensure they don't stop breathing when they're sedated. While it's not clear exactly what went wrong in the situation with Digger, Mr. Rowe doesn't think anyone was watching him after he was sedated, and he never woke up. Rowe said, "I just had too much trust in the vet's office, from the vet before. And when it changed hands, I just don't think they took the care that I was used to." We tried all day to reach the veterinarian who treated Digger, without success. Other vets tell us this situation is unusual, but there are known complications anytime you sedate or anesthetize a dog, which is why many clinics require pet owners to sign consent forms before their dogs are put under. "He always trusted me and I feel like I let him down," Rowe said. We were unable to get up with the veterinarian who treated Digger before news time. Other vets tell us this situation is unusual, but there are known complications anytime you sedate or anesthetize a dog, wich is why many clinics require pet owners to sign consent forms before their dogs are sedated.

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Emergency Vet Clinics

Veterinary Emergency Clinic’s
At the risk of being accused or painting with a broad brush, I would like to say that if you read other reviews on these types of establishments, you will see there is mostly a consensus. I write this in memory of my hound but place no blame on a facility that treated him. However; this statement also does no exonerate them.
Emergency clinics are there for off hour visits mostly. Holidays, Weekends, and hours that are too early or late to get into see your vet. The staffing during those times will more than likely have the youngest and least experienced vet staffing, and in many cases challenged with regard to time they can give. They also lack experience to diagnose correctly when faced with some more difficult cases.
The normal everyday animal lover is faced with emotions and costs to know and do what is right for his pet. The cost of doing so, certainly makes it difficult. The high cost and lack of vet experience probably has caused many simple cases to have bad outcomes. One must remember, compassion from the staff, does not mean love.
Expect to pay a lot for tests and diagnostics. Diagnostics that are marked up quite a bit. The next paragraph gives simple numbers. These high cost in medicine are seen for humans with the reason being the high cost of mal practice, which is another story I can shed light on. Animal settlements and malpractice are a mere fraction of the cost on human medicine with insurance policies for under $10,000/year.
Expect high costs for answers to what is wrong. I mean very high costs. Severely marked up costs in the 5000% range. I can list 100 examples, but I’ll give 2 that makes is easy to understand, waste disposal they charge you $25.00. They use a syringe for medications of blood draw and put in in a sharps container. A sharp container that holds 3 quarts costs $4.00 but understand; the container will hold 500 syringes and is left open until it is filled over the days and weeks. It cost $25.00 for the facility to have it picked up by a waste hazard service. The net return on the $29.00 cost to the facility is $12,476.00. A CBC test performed on almost every animal costs $85.00, the cost per test which takes one minute is $1.00. They may argue the cost of the equipment, which is $12-$19000. The equipment lasts 5 years or more. This means it takes 176 tests to pay for the equipment. That amount of tests in a medium volume facility can be done in less than 1 week. If they perform 176 tests per week for 5 years the net return on that $15000 is 3.5 million dollars.
In summary, people’s hearts cause major expenditures of one answer at a time. The answers in many cases does not guarantee outcome, just inner peace. You are hardly buying expertise or attentiveness. Know that passing tests while a taking course of study and earning a certificate, only licenses a person. It doesn’t make him or her, a good technician or above all a good diagnostician. There is no answer to good Vet care, so in theory, try to find a good vet, try to stay out of clinics. It is a very difficult task. The standards are poor.

Cost of veterinary inputs

The cost of the inputs are minimal as described but the real cost are wages of staff, rents on property and rents on equipment which are the expenses targeted in the fee structure. Vets are not expensive compared to other businesses with lower costs. I wish I had been a plumber if I wanted to make reasonable money.


i read some of this vets articles in newspapers and the one i read on ferrets is so false, he needs to go back to school, no i change that he needs to retire as a vet. His giving people advice on ferrets is so wrong. I have 17 ferrets and have had 22 at one time. As pets they do NOT eat live prey and do not get startled when awaken. There is ferret food out there for them and they are usually very hard to awaken. I have had ferrets for over 12 years and have gone through all their diseases and habits, they are sweet loving animals. The only thing I think they are not a very good pet for a young child as they can get stepped on or hurt very easily as they are long bodied and most young children hold them by the top of their body and let the rest hang and it can damage their spines. .Dr Lacroix needs to be more informed of his practice and animals befroe he starts giving advice to the public. i am not very ahppy wiht alot of his articles and this one hit home.

Came across this article

Came across this article accidentally, but this is an ongoing problem. On 2 August 2011 I brought one of our dogs to Leonard-Sykes Animal Hospital on Kerr Ave. We had been taking our pets their for 15 years, and were generally pleased with their care. The dog was brought in to look for a possible urinary tract infection. She was 8 months old. One of the vet techs brought her out in back of the clinic to collect a urine sample. I waited in the exam room. Waited a while. 10 minutes later, the vet came back in to tell me the dog had got of her lead and was run over and killed.

This seems to me to be negligence of the most extreme variety. I wonder why a clinic located on one of the busiest roads in Wilmington cannot be bothered to provide a secure enclosure preventing animals from wandering out to Kerr Ave. (They have an enclosure- when I left I noticed the gates were WIDE open). Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed in Leonard/Sykes clinic, and would urge all owners to be diligent and careful when bringing their pets here. I will say the clinic offered to cover the cremation expenses and provided copies of all vet history of our surviving animals to give to new vet. Thanks a lot.

When I went to interview NEW vets for our animals, I was surprised to find out that this type of thing is not as uncommon as I would have thought. I'd urge all pet owners to be VERY careful when allowing ANYONE at a local Wilmington vet clinic to handle their pet, especially outdoors.

Sorry to hear....

Such a tragic loss. I have a grand-dog who is a bulldog..such a wonderful breed. Why in the world would any vet 'routinely' sedate a dog for a simple 4 minute or less nailtrim? I have been grooming for over 20 years, and have never heard of this practice of routine sedation. I clip and file a minimum of 250 individual nails a week for dogs and cats. It is the RARE, VERY RARE occasion that I will refer a client to the vet for a nail trim, if it takes more than two people to attempt nail trims. The vets I have known have simply enlisted another staff member to help with dogs who have nail trim issues. It seems a more than a little extreme to risk sedation for something so simple. Again, so sorry for the loss of your beloved pet...


Keep your comments to yourself. Your a common pet owner. Your have never worked with dogs, I have over nine years. Keep your comments, to what you
do for a living.

Unruly Dog nail trimming

My rescue dog is extremely unruly and it seems impossible to trim her nails. Maybe she had a traumatic experience in the pound. Where can I find reading material on this subject? Maybe some suggestions. I've even tried closing us in the shower on a rubber mat. She goes nuts. 45 pounds of legs going every which direction.

I feel your pain. I found

I feel your pain. I found walking my unruly mongrel on the asphalt (as long as it's not too terribly hot) helps a lot to sort of grind them down to a managable level. During the summer I walk him early in the morning and later in the evenings when it's cooled off.


I understand your pain. I also lost my pet to a local vet who over sedated him. I felt lost without my little dog and yes I blamed myself for letting him down. My vet would not talk to me either. It has been a year now in december and I finally am able to see about doing something about this matter. thanks

I'm sorry for the lose of Digger, however

Its always a chance u take when sedating an animal or even a person, there is a chance u might not wake up. My grandmother is actually a living example of someone who has reaction to being sedated so we know not to let doctors. However with a pet its hard when something unexplainable happens to them and we loose someone we love dearly. I have not met with the new staff at Dr Lacroix's office yet he and his previous doctors were some of the best I have ever known and I am sorry to loose them, however I dont think that this situation is a reflection of the new owner and staffs ability to care for our loved ones. I am deeply sorry for everyone involved. Also as a bather for a local groomer I recomend you trim your dogs toenails at least once a month to keep them familiar with the process, as well as grooming. If they only get these things a few times a year they are less likely to grow used to the process and act calm and relaxed. This keeps you, your pet and his groomer safe and happy! Good Luch to All

The staff should have been

The staff should have been watching the dog more carefully. The vets hold a very care free mentality when its comes to providing "care" to dogs. Due to puppy mills these vets offices are FLOODED with work. Naturally the quality of care is diminished as well.I have witnessed this on several occasions with my dog. Theyre are not focused on the well being of the dog they are just focused on running up the bill on you. After all whats better? A vets office that pulls in 2M a month or one that puts 10M. Of course there are exceptions and many great vets out there. I would suggest carefully looking for one before just going to any place.

If you see that the vet is rushing just like if your doctor was rushing you, you just get out of there. A good vet will explain everything to you and will approach your dog in a dog friendly manner!

Always go to see where your dog is going to stay. If the staff refuses to show you where your baby is going to be put just get out of there.
Alot of those rooms are dirty and full of germs. If it is filthy in that room they probably wont even let you inside.

You dont want your dog catching some disease!
It is very easy for dogs to get mistreated and for the owner to not know about it. Dogs cant speak so we must speak for them!

2M a Month?

I know your not saying they pull in $2 million or more a month.

Thanks for all of the info.

I just happened to click on this link, and I'm glad I did. When I'm finally ready for a new pet, I'll now know not to just show up at LaCroix. I am always concerned when anesthesia is mentioned since so many dogs seem to die. And indeed, in the past, Drs. LaCroix and Cobel and I postponed cleaning my dog's teeth until some point when he might need sedation for some other reason. I had a Lab, and he never needed his nails clipped until we moved here-- previously the nails were short from walking on concrete and macadam. Dr. LaCroix clipped them without sedation as I recall, and he was a big dog.


I rescued a poodle from Brunswick Animal Control and took him to a local vet to be neutered.He was in perfect health and had no problems prior to his surgery.Upon picking him up my husband and I noticed his penis was hanging out and he was cut from one side to the other and then all the way down his stomach!They told us that his penis would go back in and be fine and he would return to normal.Well he was in horrible pain for about two months afterward,so much so that my husband would have to sleep with him at night so he could be on his back.He would just lie there and cry.We took him back to this vet and asked her to do what she could to help him at the time and told her his problem.She put a couple stitches in him to hold his penis in and said it should help,but if not we would have to see a nerve specialist.And then tried to charge us $100.00 for her mistake!Now months later his problem has only gotten worse and looks to be very painful.I believe she should be held responsible for his problems!What steps do I take??Any suggestions??

bizarre neuter operation

It sounds like that must have been a difficult operation due to one or both testicles being retained inside the abdominal cavity and having to be surgically removed. Did anybody at the vet's mention that would be the case? Was it an expensive neuter? It sounds like it was horribly botched. You could probably sue the vet but certainly you need to take your dog to a different vet and see if it needs a second surgery to fix it up. Get a recommendation from a local for a different vet!

What a horror story...

This is probably the most horrific "vet story" I've ever heard. I just want to know who this was, so I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER go to that vet. I realize that this name probably can't be told in a post for legal reasons, but ohmygod. I hope you contact the lawyer recommended in one post, and please, if you haven't taken your dog to another vet, please go to Dr. Cobel or someone else recommended on this site.

what's the whole story?

This seems to have been a one-sided report. Nothing at all was mentioned if any recommedations were made to the owner of the dog. As stated, pre-anesthetic bloodwork is highly important but still optional, can be declined and can't be forced upon someone. Was that done in this case? No one wants to mention that part just in case the owner didn't do it and should have. The comment about it being common practice to sedate dogs for nail trims is completely untrue. Aggressive or unruly dogs are mildly sedated occasionaly but the behavior issue goes back to how the owner has handled or disciplined his/her dog. I am a registered vet tech and have been in this field for over 10 years now, both here and SC. It saddens me to see a fellow veterinary comrade blasted by the media and people without all the information at hand. As if our job isn't hard enough as it is, dealing with people whose bottome line is "How much is this going to cost me? Can we cut some corners if we don't do this or that?" I guarantee if you asked anyone who worked in any vet clinic in any town if they had ever lost a patient and had no answer for why they would say yes. It is not a incident that only happens at one place. As far as Dr. Lacroix retiring, that was probably HIS decision and it is unfair to take it out on those who bought a practice that was up for sale just because you weren't informed as to what he was planning to do. Maybe these people aren't worse, just different. Give them a break.

MediaHater, your "saddness"

MediaHater, your "saddness" should be directed to the incompetence of your comrades. I too have had over a decade in the "industry" and can say with all certainty that all the bloodwork in the world doesn't guarantee that there will be no complication from sedation, particularly in this breed.


Take your dog to a VET who cares about animals and will get him out of pain b/c that is the most important thing right now.Pay the bill then take your old vet that hurt your dog in the first place to court.Have the vet medical board look into this person,call them and tell what she did to your dog.If you have to threaten them and the vet with a lawyer.And hopefully you will get somewhere.But if you let her get away with it she is going to do it to other animals.Someone has got to stop her or scare the s... out of her with the medical board.

Local Vet

From you comments I can probably guess where you went, Only because I had problems there to. My suggestion to you would be to go to Brunswick An Hosp and see Dr. Rabon. He's wonderful and WILL NOT give you the run around. He DOES NOT charge excessive amounts either. He is very up front and straight to the point. You can also go in his office on sat before 11:00 WITHOUT a appt. He really cares!


Brunswick Animal Hospital 754-8165

There are always two sides to every story

This is a classic example of why pet owners need to do pre-anesthetic bloodwork. Regardless of how many times the dog has been put under anesthesia, pre-anesthetic bloodwork can help the veterinarian determine if the pet is healthy enough to be put under- ESPECIALLY if they are older pets. I am a registered veterinary technician here in NC as well as a licensed veterinary technician in Virginia & I have had to deal with clients that refuse to do any testing on their pets and then blame the vet for any complications. Would you want to go under anesthesia with out having any testing done to see if you can safely go under? I don't think so.

You donn't know if this was

You donn't know if this was the you can't judge that.

tipical vet tech

If you are a good vet you would not even attempt to put a dog under if the owner does not do blood work. Why was he not told how damgerious the situation could be? I highly doubt he was told this, regardless, the vet still did it. I wonder if he was sent a bill? If you care about animals you would not put them in the position to harm them FOR MONEY!

typical ignorant person

if you are a good pet owner you won't ask/ demand for your pet to be sedated without bloodwork or for any unnecessary reason. If services were refused, people would just go down the street to a "cheaper" office and really get what they pay for. Unfortunately pets are considered property in the state of NC and their owner can do with them what they want. If you care about your pet you would not put them in the postitioned to be harmed because you are concerned about price. That statement goes both ways. I have told many people about how dangerous anesthesia is and especially if recommendations for bloodwork are ignored and they just get an attitude- once they find out it costs money refuse the option. Before you categorize vet techs just try to be one. Bet you can't hack it.

wow. just wow. any time you

wow. just wow. any time you put any animal, even a person under there is a chance that you will not get them back. They can have a reaction to the medicine, they can have a number of other complications. There is no such thing as "minor surgery" and there is no such thing as safe general anesthesia.


I am so sorry for your loss. I know you must be filled with grief. Do not feel like you let Digger down. This is NOT your fault. Digger, may you rest in peace and run free and happy at the bridge...


I don't blame Dr. Lacroix he and his staff were very good and realy cared about the animals they cared for.I feel it was my falt for not doing more resarech about the new vet. Digger will be missed by our family and nothing can replace him. I hope this story will save other pets lifes. Thanks Terry

Dr. Lacroix

My cat goes to (or went to, now) Dr. Lacroix, and I am outraged that he is apparently not there anymore and we were not notified! He did a great job, but after hearing all this, I will definitely not be taking my cat to whoever is there now. Does anyone know why he is not there anymore? I am surprised no one from the clinic wants to comment, at least to defend themselves. That makes me think that either they don't care or they know they did something wrong.

Why Dr.LaCroix did not notify clients

A condition of the sale of his practice was to keep the information that the practice was sold "unannounced" publicly. This is not unusual when the value of a business is in the "name" of the previous owner. He retired after 41 years of being the best, most conscientious veterinarian most of us will ever know. We're not happy about his decision, but happy that he will still be part of the Wilmington community.