Danno was born in our kitchen on the 03rd of August 2008 and the first and last voices he ever heard was ours, his life was brought to an abrupt end on the 09th May this year due to the negligence at one of Ireland’s leading veterinary practices, Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital in Cork.
Events leading to Danno being Put To Sleep
On Monday 23rd November 2015 we attended Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital for the first time after being referred by our vet. The cause was that Danno our Male Standard Smooth Dachshund had symptoms of spinal injury. At this consultation Shane Guerin examined Danno and gave us a detailed explanation as to what was actually happening. The surgery to be performed on Danno was Thoracolumbar Hemi-laminectomy (Spinal Surgery) and the decision to carry out this procedure is based on what symptoms are present on a scale of one to six. One being the dog feeling pain and six meaning the dog was paralysed and incontinent. Danno was at a stage three when we arrived which meant that he had feelings in his back legs, and that after a successful operation and rehab Danno would have a 90% chance of making a full recovery.
We have never had insurance on any of our dogs, but make a commitment to them that once they enter our home we will take care of their needs completely. The operation was carried out on the afternoon of Monday the 23rd of November and on Wednesday the 24th we got a phone call to advise that Danno had toileted by himself and we could collect him the following day. When we collected him we were given a set of exercises that we would have to get Danno to perform and instructions to keep him confined to a crate for 8 weeks except when feeding and toilet breaks. When bringing him outside he would have a harness over his front quarters and a specially made one for his rear. We had travel plans booked and pre paid during this 8 week period which we cancelled in order to care for Danno during his rehab.
Danno’s rehab which included four land / water based physio sessions was text book and he was requiring less support every day from the rear harness.
Danno continued to make a great progress and was at least 95% fully recovered.
On Saturday 7th May 2016 at approx 2230 hrs whilst out for his last toilet break of the day, Danno sat down on his hind legs and we instantly knew that there was a problem. We set up a crate in our bedroom and he slept in same the whole night without any incidents. On Sunday the 8th May at approx 0830 hrs we took Danno from the crate and instantly knew that he hadn’t got full power in his back legs. I called the Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital main phone line and the message on the answering machine advised the mobile telephone number for the emergency service. I called this number and spoke to Gemma O’Donoghue the covering vet, and advised who I was and our history with the hospital and that I suspected that Danno was having another ruptured disc. Gemma advised that the fee for an out of hours consultation was Euro 135.00 and after I advised this wasn’t a problem agreed on meeting her at Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital at 1030 hrs. We arrived at approx 1045 hrs and the front or was locked. We called Gemma on the mobile number and she came to unlock the door and let us in. We followed her to an examination room where she carried out a series of tests on Danno and came to the conclusion that as he had feeling in his back feet, brought on by squeezing same with a forceps that he was at a stage 3 and that surgery would be an option. We signed a consent form and left the estimate blank. We were advised that Danno would be constantly monitored and it was unlikely that he would deteriorate. We brought him through to an observation room and placed him in a crate. Before we left we paid Gemma the Euro 135.00 for the out of hours service.
On Monday morning 9th May at 0905 hrs we called the Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital main line number and asked to speak to Shane Guerin. When we spoke to Shane Guerin he advised that he had received a text from Gemma on Sunday to inform him that Danno had been admitted but at this stage hadn’t seen him, but based on him still being at a stage three, he would operate on him that afternoon. I advised that we were heading from West Cork back to Midleton and would call in on the way through to get an update but would be on the other end of the phone if needed. At 1001 hrs I received a call from Shane Guerin to advise that Danno had deteriorated and was now at stage six. I advised that we were en route and would make any decisions once we had seen our dog.
When we arrived into the reception in a distressed state Valerie came from the reception and led us to consultation room 4 and advised she would bring our dog down to us. We stood at the door and Valerie advised that “She” was coming down now, and at the same time the doors of the observation room opened and a large female collie dog was being wheeled down to us. We informed them that this wasn’t our dog, and the three staff looked at each other then wheeled this dog away. We then asked Valerie where our Danno was as we wanted to see him and she led us back to the observation room. Josephine & I spotted Danno on the ground tethered by a lead around his neck in a very distressed state. When we got to him we were utterly shocked at what we saw. Shane Guerin was present in the room, and was writing some information on a white board whilst being filmed by a camera crew. The whites of Danno’s eyes were completely red, blood red and he had a swollen lip on his left hand side. I checked Danno’s lip and also checked inside his mouth to see if any of his teeth were broken, as I knew that he had sustained some kind of injury that could have easily resulted in a broken tooth / teeth. At this stage Shane Guerin came over to us and we asked what happened to Danno & he advised that “he had a little fall” and asked could we go to a separate room to discuss the same. When in this room Shane Guerin advised that Danno was now at a stage six and that now the odds of him making any recovery after an operation would only be 20%. We asked what quality of life would Danno have if left like this and Shane Guerin advised “None” Josephine asked Shane Guerin if the fall had resulted in Danno going from a stage 3 to a stage 6 and Shane said “I don’t think so” Left with no option we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put Danno to sleep.
We spent about 45 minutes with Danno before this procedure was carried out .
Danno was put to sleep at approx 1230 hrs.
We both left with Danno wrapped in a blanket via the back door as we didn’t want to go back via reception. Josephine then went to settle our bill which came to Euro 270.01 including the cost of having Danno put to sleep.
On Tuesday the 10th May at 1034 hrs we called the Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital looking to speak to Shane Guerin and was advised that he was in surgery but would call me back when out of same. At 1043 hrs I missed a call from Shane Guerin’s mobile as I was on another call. At 1138 hrs Shane called again and we had a discussion where I advised that I wasn’t happy with what had happened the day before. Shane Guerin advised that he had been thinking about it and had intended on ringing me that day to talk about same. I asked Shane Guerin in his opinion had the fall that Danno sustained contributed to him going from a stage 3 to a stage 6 and he advised “It probably did” and that he took full responsibility for what had happened. We advised that we had a lot of questions that required answers to and he suggested a meeting.
This meeting took place at 1830 hrs Wednesday 11th May at Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital
Meeting on Wednesday 11th May 2016 @ 1830 hrs persons Present: Shane Guerin, Gemma O’Donoghue & John O’Mahony from Gilabbey & Paul Barry & Josephine Daly
This is what we discovered:
Danno fell at 5 PM on Sunday 8th May 2016 as a result of John the veterinary nurse trying to take him out of his crate to remove a faeces. Danno landed on his head. John advised that Danno was acting aggressively even though Gemma the Vet who had admitted Danno from us at 1045 AM that morning, found no aggression at all from him on her initial inspection. She described him as being stoic. Nor either did she find him aggressive when she had to administer opiod pain relief by injection after he had been crated earlier that day. The crate he “lunged” from has a base height of 1 meter. We stated that our dog was handicapped due to reduced mobility in his back legs, and we found it hard to believe that a dog in this condition could lunge.
John the Veterinary Nurse notified Gemma the vet on call by phone of the incident and she arrived 10 minutes later to examine Danno. Gemma said that after the inspection he still seemed to be at a level 3 at this stage. He was last examined at 8 PM that evening and left alone in the surgery until first examined at 0830 hrs Monday the 09th May by Gemma. He had gone from a level 3 to a level 6 during the hours of 8 PM Sunday until 0830 hrs Monday 09th May. We were never given an answer as to why we were not contacted at the time of Danno’s fall. We were just advised that they were very sorry. We had been informed that Danno would be monitored at all times on Sunday 08th May in case of his condition deteriorating, and were shocked and later totally distraught that Danno had been left overnight unattended regardless of having the fall or not. When we admitted Danno to Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital on Sunday 08th May we were advised that Danno would be constantly monitored, obviously this was not the case.
No extra pain relief was given to Danno after his fall as it was already in his system from earlier that day. This was given by injection after we had left and the dog had been crated
Shane Guerin when asked again, admitted that Danno’s fall more than likely contributed to Danno going to a stage 6 and that he repeatedly stated that he was very sorry. Shane Guerin stated that a series of mistakes were made and things then just spiralled and he held his hands up and that they were fully responsible for what happened. The first mistake being crating a dog with a spinal injury at a height. Secondly not informing us at the time of his fall on Sunday. Thirdly then not informing us during his 2 phone calls Monday AM about Danno’s fall and the injuries to his face (burst lip from canine tooth puncturing inside of lip and whites of eyes completely filled with blood as a result of the scleral blood vessels being burst ) Shane Guerin also failed to carry out his plan to make sure that we did not get to see Danno before he got to see us at reception when we arrived at approx 1115 hrs. The TV cameras were in situ recording. As a result of these mistakes he informed us at the meeting on Wednesday 11th May 2016 at 1830 hrs that new procedures were in the process of being implemented.
During our meeting on Wednesday 11th May, we said to Shane did he not think that a dog with a spinal injury that had fallen in his practice should not have been left alone that night without being monitored further, and he said he should not of been.
We left this meeting with nothing more than “We’re very sorry” and our hearts broken
We strongly feel that the reason we never received an answer to our question “Why were we not contacted at the time of Danno’s fall” is because at that stage there were no visual signs of his head trauma, therefore there was no reason to admit to this fatal error. It’s only after they left Danno alone from 2000 hrs on Sunday night and when they first checked in on him at 0830 hrs Monday morning were the visual signs (burst lip from canine tooth puncturing inside of lip and whites of eyes completely filled with blood)
Danno spoke to us through his injuries as only for them we would never have known what he had gone through alone whilst in the care of Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital.
As dog owners we have had 2 experiences of Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, November 2015 & May 2016, the first Josephine summarises as she didn’t think money could buy you happiness, but it did on the day we collected Danno after his 1st operation. Sadly this feeling was taken away from us in May
We are the first to admit that accidents can and will happen, but it’s how you deal with them is a reflection on your professionalism. On our second experience with Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital we were lied to and deceived and as a result lost Danno a dog that brought happiness into our lives every day of his.
A mistake is a mistake only if it’s not learned from, and already through us notifying a few close friends about our horrendous ordeal, we have been able to advise them that when you are advised your dog is going to be monitored whilst in the care of most veterinary practises this does NOT mean that they will have veterinary supervision overnight.
These friends have also pointed out that by posting this blog we are inviting people that have had a positive experience with Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital to post comments re same and all we ask of people that want to post is to substitute Danno’s name with their own dogs name in the above piece and consider how you would feel if this horrendous ordeal had happened to you and your beloved dog.