make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

Pet owners seek accountability from vet for dog's death

READ MORE: Pet owners seek accountability from vet for dog's death

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- For pet owners, one of the worst things you can hear is that your animal is sick. A Wilmington woman says that news was only the beginning of her problems.

For many folks, pets are family, and when family gets sick, you do everything you possibly can. Brittany Barham said someone else's negligence led to her beloved dog's death.

Barham said when her six-year-old Chihuahua-Yorkie mix George got sick, it was her mission to take care of him, but that was not enough.

"You would think a doctor that's been in practice for 15 years would look at the whole picture," Barham said.

Barham took her dog to Pine Valley Animal Hospital in Wilmington drive to see Dr. Kenneth Layton. She said Layton diagnosed George with back injuries, but when the medication did not help, she took the X-rays to another veterinarian.

"He actually saw George's X-rays and was (blown) away by what he saw," Barham said.

The new vet diagnosed George with liver lesions. Having already spent so much to find out what was wrong, Barham could not afford the treatment and had to put George down. Barham says her dog could still be alive, if only Dr. Layton had paid closer attention and taken his time. Her father Edward says their family placed their trust in Layton, and were let down.

"When you take your animal to a vet, you expect the vet to look at your dog or your cat, or whatever your animal may be, and tell you what's wrong with them, and when they tell you what they think is wrong with them, that's not what they're getting paid to do," Edward said.

Edward Barham is convinced there are other pet owners who have suffered similar losses. He says it's important to know your rights and to hold veterinarians accountable. The Barham family has contacted the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board, which is now observing Dr. Layton and his practice.

Edward says it's not about the money, it's about the principle.

"We're not after any money at all," he said. "The money is gone. The point that we're after is I don't want to see another father have to watch his daughter go through what I watched mine go through and bury the dog in the backyard."

Dr. Layton sent Brittany Barham a letter admitting his mistake in compliance with Veterinary Medical Board guidelines. Barham has 20 days to respond. After that, the board will review Layton's medical license.

We tried to talk to with Dr. Layton today, but his office said he had no comment.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


bad VETS kill our pets

Devastating, to lose a close companion by the hands of someone you trusted because that's what I hey do for a living but on the contrary they don't give a cheap about it our pet. Our dog was made to endure a deceptive surgery for a condition she did not have but this vet misjudged me. She didn't expect me to get the dog into an independent CLINIC and she was caught! Then when the original symptoms came back and we returned to.confront this bi#!$ about her lie, she passed us off on her colleague. Then he ended up prescribing my child(because that's what she was to me) a massively high disease of insulin and sent me home knowing that I would overdose my dog..have you see a dog that has been overdosed on insulin? Not pretty, violent violent seizures where their features are so distorted she looked like a demonic Werewolf. Lips pulled back so far showing the molar teeth and eyeballs so extended they defy logic of staying in the skull

Which vet was this?

Which vet was this?

And this guy is a vet....

I am very sorry for your loss :-( I had a very bad experience with this office this past Friday the 13th...

This place is so very rude and NON professional and they butchered my dog and gave me no warning about what could happen when you take your dog to have there nails clipped and when he was done and we left he wasn't bleeding but as we drove down the road we looked down and it was alllllll over his pants and when he took him back in and asked what they had done to our dog, the vet tech had a great comment.... "Oh, a massacre"... he continued to bleed and they attempted to let him go twice still bleeding... quick stop did not work the three or more times they used it... I had to walk away I was so upset... They had no compassion and the vet tech is not the one that did his nails... THE VET DID IT!! Does he know what he's doing?? "Oh well sometimes we don't know how close we are to the quick on the black nails.." well maybe you shouldn't cut so close!! All of his quicks were cut and his little feet were COVERED in blood :-( This place refused to give me my money back since they provided a service to me... A service that I could have done better myself at home. You also gave the service of giving me an ulcer and the worst two hours of my life.... My dog is my world and this is the reason why I have never brought him to a vet to have his nails done was because I was terrified of this exact thing happening... I have told everyone that I know about this place and what they did!! My boyfriend was covered in blood and everyone that saw him asked what happened... We will be telling everyone that will listen about this place and the lack of compassion that they showed for our child. 2nd opinion office looked at his nails and couldn't believe how short he cut them and did not even charge us for the exam because they were so sorry for what this office had done to our baby. We will be taking him to this office from now on!! oh and when he cut them it was done in under a minute.... on to the next one... THIS PLACE IS HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE AND I WILL NEVER GO BACK TO THIS PLACE AGAIN!!!!!!!!!HORRIBLEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Over budget

This past week I went to pine valley animal hospital to have surgery on my dog. I was quoted $451 before the surgery. I called back during surgery and checked on her. The person answering the phone said she was alright. When I inquired whether the quote would change or not they said it was $451 and that the vet did not have to do the optional blood work. Which my fiance had already told you guys not to do without communication. When I picked up my pup, the amount due was $507. This was due to extra blood work they "had done." Her stitches came out the next day, she had some blood on her and the gap was open 1/2" wide and 3/4-1" long and I was told I was to pay $60 for the sedation fee to get her restitched.

over budget

I am so sorry you had to go through something like that! I wish you would have read my post sooner. Crooks I tell ya!


The point of the story

I think the point Barham was trying to get across with the story was to inform pet owners if they have a malpractice issue, or anything they find suspicious, how the pet owner can write to the North Carolina Veterinarian board and complain. It is very important that Veterinarians stay within the laws of practicing medicine with animals. Just like a doctor for humans, to many screw ups and they are toast because of claims and issues that arise. I hate the fact that one vet was blamed because there are so many out there that have done wrong. It is important that each veterinarian stay true to why they became a vet in the first place. If something is not right, I agree with Barham, it needs to be reported. It is significant that every pet owner knows their rights if something happens to go wrong.

Let me start off by saying

Let me start off by saying that I don't know either of Veterinarians involved in this case. However I do work in the animal care field and thus I have a bit of insight about what goes on behind the scenes at a Vet's Office that most people don't see. First of all, in my opinion, making a mistake does not mean that a person is incompetent at all, it does however imply that person is after all a human. SURPRISE, SURPRISE! If you want an eye for an eye the whole world will go blind. Secondly, I feel the dog died only because the owner opted to put the dog to sleep. Because I know first hand how expensive the cost of pet care can be, I will not own a animal that I cannot afford. PERIOD! If you can't afford to care for you pet even during a time when something comes up out of the blue.. THEN DO ALL ANIMALS A FAVOR IN THE FUTURE AND NEVER ADOPT ANOTHER ONE UNTIL YOU CAN AFFORD IT! Our pets DEPEND on us to keep them healthy, they have no one else. We are their only guardians in this world. Owning companion animals is very expensive. If you want something cheaper and more affordable, then I suggest maybe you should adopt a cat instead of a dog. Generally speaking they are cheaper to own and maintain than a dog. The fact of the matter is, canine health care is very expensive if you are caring for them properly. Does your dog have allergies? You may have to feed your dog a special expensive diet if they are diagnosed with food allergies. Do you own a breed that is prone to eye problems, ear problems, breathing problems, or bone and joint problems? How about considering the cost of general maintenance and treatments for fleas or heart worms prevention, and yearly checkups and vaccinations and the yearly heart worm test. Does your dog require grooming? The list goes on and on.. A average person caring for their single canine companion properly can and will easily approach close to the thousand dollar mark annually. Not to mention if they get sick or injured expectantly. If that happened, you might as well expect that single event could cost you at least a thousand if not a couple thousand or more. The moral of the story here... If you can't afford the expenses related to caring for another life that DEPENDS solely on you.. THEN PLEASE DON'T ADOPT! Veterinarians have gone to college for 8 years but that degree doesn't mean they will not occasionally make mistakes... Veterinarians are a blessing but not perfect! If you have a problem with a way a Veterinarian has treated your pet, then I strongly suggest you move on to find another one. But don't forget, The grass isn't always greener on the other side, because after all we are all human and no one is immune from making mistakes.. NO ONE! Making this into a smear campaign against Dr. Layton isn't the way to go here. Honestly, I'd be totally shocked if he looses his licensee over this. I don't think this mistake is worthy of him losing his license to practice Veterinary Medicine. If he habitually made the same mistake over and over and clearly didn't learn from his previous mistakes, then maybe... just maybe that would be grounds to revoke his license. Until then, I say hold your chin up Dr. Layton, and know that your fellow animal care peers support you. This nightmare will be over soon enough. And just a bit of advice to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation with a Vet like the Barham's.. If you aren't happy with your service then by all means move on, and do so QUICKLY! To everyone else...Please think before you adopt a pet, it's a lifetime commitment for the next 10 to 20 years. Be a responsible pet owner and remember to always spay and neuter your pets. THINK BEFORE YOU ADOPT! If you want to adopt.. then please adopt from a rescue or Shelter. Save a life and don't breed or buy while homeless animals die. Thanks :)


This article is an absolute DISGRACE to the local community of Wilmington, NC. I do not go to Pine Valley animal hospital, however I believe that this reporting is slander. Dr. Layton will probably lose clients and future clients due to this lack of moral publishing. Your slogan is Live. Local. Interactive. but you are driving people away from locally owned businesses to corporate ones. Quite frankly I find the article stupid and pointless. The woman should be held accountable for putting her dog down because she didn't have any money left to treat the dog. I know of people that have put $20,000 on a credit card to save their dog. Dr. Layton wasn't the cause....SHE WAS! There was absolutely no lesson learned from this article except that WWAY is not the news station to watch, WECT is. And Katie Harden should be FIRED! Lastly, WWAY should apologize to Dr. Layton and Pine Valley Animal Hospital!

Dr. Layton

I have not only worked with Dr. Layton but he has treated many of my pets as well, he is an EXCEPTIONAL DOCTOR and all of you that want to point fingers and ruin a good mans reputation should not only be ashamed of yourselves but look over your shoulder. You know that saying "what comes around goes around" is so right.

If this "new" vet is so

If this "new" vet is so wonderful, knowledgeble and caring why would they not treat the dog no matter of cost, get the dog well and work out a payment plan with the owners? If the dog had a treatable health problem, it seems to me the 2nd doctor would have felt sorry for the dog and its owners who spent money for a misdiagnosis and cared for the pet because he was compassionate. Most vets often offer their services for a free or discounted rate to animal rescue groups, police K-9's etc. Its seems to me this could have been a "rescue case" as well. He could have chocked it up to a good deed.

WWAY, you have got to get

WWAY, you have got to get your facts straight before you try to ruin someone's reputation. I will never listen or watch WWAY news again. You absolutely DO NOT have the facts straight! Dr. Layton is a good and honest man. Dr. Layton recommended that they take the dog to a specialist in Raleigh and they chose not to spend the money. You should make sure you have ALL the details from both sides before publishing a story. Who knows what other lies you've put on your news broadcasts! Oh, and one last thing, please consider the source.

Tests not offered!

They were not offered blood work, ultra sound, or any additional tests. They were eventually referred to Dr. Williams in Wilmington, and they DID go. Read the whole story!


I like many others have been taking my animal, an 13 year old chihuahua with health issues to Pine Valley for many years, since 1999 in fact. While I understand that Dr. Layton has admitted a mistake in this matter I am under the firm belief that no matter how qualified ANY doctor maybe be they can not be right 100% of the time. I have seen first hand that Dr. Layton is a very good vet and very good at what he does. I too also have to question the lack of information on WWAY's part on not listing the other vet that and key information into their diagnosis. The claim that Pine Valley's staff including Dr. Layton are incompetent and not friendly is completely ridiculous and could not be farther from the truth they have gone above and beyond to help my dog when she has an episode, and frankly I would have a hard time trusting anyone else with care of my dog as no vet has ever shown the caring and compassion as the people of Pine Valley Animal Hospital. I will always be thankful to them for the time they have given me with my dog and will continue to suuport this top notch animal hospital.

I Don't understand. There

I Don't understand. There seems to be a lot missing from this story. I'm sorry the money spent couldn't have been that much. If you can't afford pets you don't need them! This is just silly! How about some REAL NEWS...good job guys youre hurting this mans business in an already tough time without knowing the full story! Appluad yourselves JOB WELL DONE!

Animal Hospital Story

. Has anyone taken the time to find out what NC Board decided? They found no wrongdoing on the Doctor's part. He referred the pet to a specialist. The owner made a decision after seeing three more doctors. Bottom line,this man has been maligned for no wrondoing.WWAY , shame on you for not doing a follow up and clearing this Doctor' s name and reputation..

Never again!

I had to take my dog there one time. That one time I vowed never to take my dog back. He never gave me or my dog the respect we deserved. The whole staff is not friendly at all. I didn't like the fact that he barely looked up from his paper work. I think this is a great story to let people know how to complain, esp. if they have a negligence issue like this!

Fully trust Dr. Layton

This story and your station sadly does not pass for news. My dog Beau has been a patient of Dr. Layton's for the past 5 years and will continue to be a patient of this exemplary vet. I too have sadly had bad experiences with Beau at another vet in town but due to what could likely be my own intrepration of the sitation will not name that vet. Let's just say, Dr. Layton saved Beau from what I also thought was a similar situation with another vet. There have also been times when Beau was sick and it was close to their closing time and they said bring him on - with no extra after hours charge - they could have said take him to the emergency clinic we are closed. The point being - all doctors and vets are human and mistakes will be made - if the owner of this dog or anyone of us wants perfection - we will surely be disappointed. However, if you want a caring and competent guy 99.9% of the time - Dr. Layton is your guy. He is not chatty - but he is kind. Beau and I will continue to be clients and thank our lucky stars each time we see him and his staff.

You've gotta be kidding me!!!

Ok, let's have a reality check… Is this really newsworthy? I surfed into WWAY’s website during my lunch and lost my appetite. My family has taken our pets to Pine Valley for years – and guess what? We will continue to do so for years and pets to come. WWAY – what you find as being newsworthy in this story is appalling and destructive to a good person in our community. You’ve smeared his good name and reputation, for what gain? Is this worth the possible damage that you might bring to his reputable and long standing business within our community? I say to the pet owners, sorry for your loss. Dr LaCroix, right on with your assessment! Dr Layton, I look forward to having you look after our dog “Lucky” for years to come. isn't is informative....

It costs as much to take an animal to the vet as it does to go to a human doctor these days. I paid well over 300 dollars for my cats first physical checkup, shot updates, etc. A week later I had to take her in again for ear mites as she was scratching severely. That was another 110 dollars for a problem that existed the week, actually months before according to the second vet. She will not go back to the first vet again (Sound Cat) as they should've found the mites during her physical. They didn't even look in her ears or they would have easily seen the problem.

Vets are highly trained doctors. They have to know a lot about different types of animal physiology. They should earn good rates. Obvious liver lesions diagnosed as a back problem sounds completely imcompetent or simply a lack of proper review of the x-rays. Vets are not God as stated by so many below, but a basic level of competence, diagnosis and treatment is an essential part of their service and should be rendered as such. As I stated, I have received poor service and fantastic service from animal hospitals. I can guarantee you that I will heavily advertise for and against both to every consumer I can reach.

Nobody is supposed to throw good money at an incompetent diagnosis and incompetent services, no matter what it is. I'm always happy to find it exposed when, "they want to replace your spark plugs when you really have a flat tire that needs to be fixed". I don't see the need for a lawsuit here as all of you are throwing around, but informing the public of these kinds of problems will keep the businesses in check. This is a small town and a bad name gets around quickly.

I'm not kidding - he's a good vet with a good staff!!!

Ok... I'll play... My wife took our Dalmation to our previous vet years ago for a skin problem that manifested into some nasty sores all over the animal's body. Our previous vet painted a pretty grim picture for our Dalmation who had lost most of her fur and was plain miserable. The previous vet placed the dog on a number of expensive medications and stated that the dog will most likely have to go to up to the NC State vet school (not good as I'm a Tarheel fan) for further evaluations - if she lived. A friend who had been taking their pet to Pine Valley stated that we might try their vet. Our encounter with their staff was excellent and our dog was cured with a simple medication without a trip to NC State (GO HEELS!). So you didn't like your experience with Pine Valley, ok there are other vets in this town and you're happy with someone other than Pine Valley. What happens when something happens with this vet and you're not happy again? Will you smear their good name all over WWAY as well? The sad part of having a pet is that they die and you miss them, have a toast in their honor and then I'll let in you in on a little secret, but don't tell anyone... *wispers* move in closer to the monitor - it's a secret... GO TO PETCO AND GET ANOTHER FAMILY PET!!! THE ADOPTION AGENCIES ARE JUST ITCHING TO GIVE YOU ONE - CHEAP!!! This is stupid and life is too short to get all worked up over all of this. Pine Valley - good vet and they have a good staff.(period)

ear mites

You could have purchased ear mite medication for less than $10.00 and treated it yourself. With the internet at your fingertips diagnosing a simple thing such as mites is simple.

Vets are just like human Dr's, some are good some aren't.

Veterinarian's are Human

This is true but sadly an awful lot of veterinary mistakes happen, I know, a veterinarian was responsible for my dogs death, a young, healthy dog. A drug labeled for cattle & horses was used that is a risky dryg that is an antiquated drug that is very dangerous. I was not told of the side effects and dangers of using a drug off label. No surgery ever occurred and my dog died. This is the veterinarian's responsibility to inform you. Never trust any veterinarian blindly. It may be ok if it is not your pet that dies. If it were your pet you wouldn't think he was human any more. Wear the shoes then comment and have some compassion. Most state veterinary boards dismiss most valid cases. Is it ok when your pet dies at the vets from mistakes??? I didn't think so.

Exactly, Doc. WeibStein!

Ear mite treatment actually consists of about 0.7 cents worth of mineral oil, followed by 0.2 cents worth of mild soap and some warm water. Less than a dime in materials. Not being a vet or an experienced cat person, I suspected it was an ear infection, so I took her to one to find something the first vet missed that I had already PAID for as a FORMAL, 1ST TIME EXAMINATION. Again, a simple issue for a trained professional that was overlooked at Sound Cat.

Thank you for your help in making my point! Simple...


Mineral oil is used to soften the gook and clean out the ears, it doesn't kill mites. To do that, you need insecticide ear-drops and cleaning for a couple of weeks cause the eggs can be hard to get.

I agree the Dr. should have noticed this, I wasn't arguing the point.

This is news?

Between your reposting of a Salon article as "news" and this recent article, I have lost all respect for When did your organization become a nexus of gossip and a place for people to air their vendettas? You have needlessly slandered an upstanding veterinarian. At the very least, I expect your website to start running articles about EVERY time a doctor makes a mistake. I'm sure that within a year you will have covered every single physician in Wilmington. Doctors are not God and they make mistakes. There was no malice involved here.

head in the sand


Get your head out of the sand. Look up slander ...This is not what wway did.. Upstanding vet.. you made my day I needed a good laugh.. Thanks...

Where do you not see any

Where do you not see any malice here? Layton didnt even REVIEW the xrays he took? Are you kidding?


You obviously don't know the meaning of the word malice...i am assuming that you were present during the examination of the animal and the interpretation of the xrays..and were also present during the 2nd examination and interpretation of the xrays...liver lesions,,,hmmmm, liver lesions. Does that mean an obvious tumor? I think the 2nd opinion Veterinarian needs to step forward and fill us in on what he/she meant by "liver lesions".


I am assuming that the lesions on the liver were cancerous...and if you spend that kind of money on an animal..taking away from your family...your either rich..or a fool. 30 dollars and the problem is fixed! I love my dog...but I would NEVER take from my kids or family for illnesses like cancer or illnesses that require long term care or would be put down.

How can you just put a

How can you just put a animal down without knowing what it is and if it can be cured? If you have any kind of love in your heart for anyone or anything, you would do anything possible for your dog/mom/cousin. You don't just put a dog down until you know what it is and if it can be cured. The dog did get put down because whats the point in giving him medicine if the cancer might come back? Until that was found out, the owner did everything possible for the dog.