FLORENCE, Ala. — A Shoals woman is wanting answers after she says she was denied service at an emergency veterinarian in Florence after being told her dog was seriously ill.
Jamie Brown says when her dog Twister was sick, she took her to the one place she felt she could be helped, however, she says there was no concern shown for the dog’s well-being
Brown said her dog, lovingly referred to as Sissy, wasn’t feeling well on Saturday, February 13. Brown said she figured it was a run-of-the-mill sickness the dog has had before.
“She’s a regular patient of North Alabama Animal Hospital here in Sheffield and she was displaying the same symptoms that she usually displays about twice a year and they always tell me that it’s the doggy stomach virus,” Brown said.
Brown said she quickly realized it was much more after Twister’s health took a sharp turn.
After a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, Brown said she was referred to Shoals Area Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Florence.
Brown said Twister was treated Saturday night but took her back Sunday morning when it seemed her health was still declining.
“She was admitted and then Sunday afternoon about 2:00, they called me and told me that I had to come get her by 5:00 that afternoon.”
The reason? Brown said she was told the animal hospital was closing early for the incoming winter weather. The hospital posted the closure announcement on its Facebook page Sunday just before 2 p.m.
After noticing Twister was still sick, and then coughing blood, Brown said the vet tech told her, “your dog needs surgery but Dr. Youngblood is refusing to do surgeries so you have to drive her to Mississippi State.”
Brown said she then made some calls and eventually found a doctor who could help.
“I found a vet out in Leighton that I’d never met before, never talked to,” Brown said. “He took us in. We got her there, he did bloodwork, x-rays, and he had her cut open within an hour and found out what was wrong with her.”
Brown said she told Florence-Lauderdale Animal Services Director Cheryl Jones about the situation and Jones said that refusing to operate in the case of an emergency contradicts the Veterinarian’s Oath which states, “Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge. I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”
Jones added that hospitals for people don’t close during inclement weather and mentioned that many healthcare workers stay overnight during weather events.
News 19 reached out to Shoals Area Veterinary Emergency Hospital for comment on the situation. The hospital said it couldn’t comment on specific details regarding the situation, however, it did release the following statement:
At Shoals Area Veterinary Emergency, we aim to provide top-quality patient care to pets when their regular veterinarians are not available after hours, on weekends, and on holidays. We allow the veterinarians and staff on our team to assist in making decisions in difficult times that aim to first and foremost prevent animal suffering while also not endangering our team. We, collectively, did make the difficult decision to close early to allow both our staff to make it home safely and to allow pet owner’s to be able to pick up their pet and return home safely prior to the icing event on Sunday (2/14/21) night and Monday morning.
Due to confidentiality requirements within our profession and the threat of litigation, we cannot speak specifically about the details of the case in question. We are able to let you know that the pet was seen at our facility on both Saturday 2/13/21 and Sunday 2/14/21. The pet owner was provided service on both occasions which included both diagnostic and treatment options for her pet. The owner was also informed on admission of the pet on Sunday that there was also a possibility of early closure due to weather conditions.
We will continue to strive to provide a valuable service to area veterinarians and pet owners for years to come.
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