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Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, let our dog fall on his head

| blog | August 31, 2016

Gilabbey Veterinary HospitalDanno AKA Irish Champion Dessaur Hawaii Five O – 03/08/08 – 09/05/16

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.

16 Responses to “Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, let our dog fall on his head”

  1. I am truly sorry for your loss of a much loved and valued family member.

    I hope you filed a complaint with the
    Veterinary Council and had them look into this negligence.

    I learnt the hard way that though they state 24 hour they do not provide it.

  2. So sorry for your loss but I would take this further if it were my dog

    • Trust me Ann, we are involved in that process now. All we want is justice for our Danno & to let other people be aware that when you think your dog is kept overnight for supervision, in this case it involved being left totally alone for 12.5 hours.

      • Hi Paul so sorry u had to go through that experience and for the loss of your precious dog Danno. I have lost a dog who suffered tremendously by their carelessness and by them covering up for the actions of other vets. These veterinary big practices are only in it for the money. Certainly not because they care about animals. Would appreciate if you could contact me about your experience and about what action I can take against these deceitful vets.

  3. So sorry to hear about Danno’s untimely death. I also had a very bad experience with this hospital again it was a weekend and my own vet wasn’t available he had an replacement but I didn’t take it up as I was told that Gilabbey was the bees knees. Biggest mistake I made of my poor 15 year old dogs life she was diabetic and she was doing very well with over 18 month. My dog was in pain and needed help. I found my experience shocking the fact she suggested I cut her gums every 3 hours to check her bloods so how many cuts would she have after 24 hours I loved my little old dog. it was also money demanding not completing the examination even though she was in that hospital for 10 hours gave me a diagnosis over the phone which wasn’t a good one. She said we need her to come in to check her pee come on now please spare me. My little dog was terrified of vets after her experience. She went to heaven one week later in her own home by her wonderful loving vet because she was old and there was a blockage therefore her bloods could not regulate. I was not going to put her through any more pain it was time to say good bye and I think vets should know that it’s cruel to inflict pain on old dogs.

  4. mary walsh on June 20, 2017 @ 8:28 pm

    So sorry for your loss,but we also had a very bad experience with Gilabbey before which also resulted in the death of our dog. They are a complete shower of imcompetant so called vets. They show no loving nature towards the dogs at least not in our case and ive heard the same from others. I tell everyone with a pet to avoid Gilabbey at all costs. They should be ashamed of themselves and should be shut down . Rest in Peace to all the innocent dogs gone over rainbow bridge as a result of Gilabbey

    • Very sorry to hear of your experience with Gilabbey Mary, we will never forgive them for the way they treated Danno and ourselves.


    I have had a similar experience in O’Shea and Bramley (formerly Gubbins) in Wexford town, my Chocolate Dachshund was in for a c-section, one large pup born dead, but i was happy we managed to save Masha the Mother.
    I was called and told I could collect Masha to bring her home, when i collected her and arrived at home i noticed a cannula (needle) had been left in her leg.
    I rang them to tell them this,
    I also noticed she was very unresponsive and her mouth was very cold. There were apologies all around for the needle being left in her fore leg but that was all.
    I removed the needle myself as it was a long journey back to Wexford town.
    The next morning Masha was worse so I rang the surgery again and was advised to return her which I did. I told the vet I was unhappy with the state she was sent home in and did not believe she was recovering at all.
    The next day I got a call to say Masha had worsened and had passed away,
    They said they had gone “by the book” and everything possible was done for Masha.
    I asked who was taking care of her the night she died and was told the dogs and other animals were left unattended at night even though they say the surgery is 24 hours.
    I have never gone back to this vets since and wouldn’t advise any body else to do so.
    Barely an apology and treated as if my complaints were an inconvenience to them.

  6. We have also had a very bad experience with Gilabbey Vets, Shane Guerin. He was rude and obnoxious… He is a real show man and we will never be doing business with him again.

  7. Hey Paul could you drop me and email when you get a chance. I’d like to talk to you about your experience and what your doing at present as Iv had an awful experience with them aswel

  8. Hi Paul,
    I travelled down from Offaly with my dog after seeing the programme on RTE about Gilabbey and the stem cell treatment they offered. The programme portrayed a lovely caring happy atmosphere and one of the nurses came across as a real gem and as lovable as some of the animals that featured. What met us was a completely different situation. A brief break down is that the staff were rude and they lovely cuddly nurse stepped in and out over our large breed and didn’t so much as smile in either his or my direction. We had an appointment that was ignored by two and a half hours and during that time I was a witness to money demands been made by staff to very distressed people. One couple were told the it was eight hundred euro and that the five he was able to offer at the time was not the eight hundred required. Mr Guerin wanted to operate on our very elderly dog and had we gone along with him the dog would have been in a cage for three months for each leg that needed seeing too. The dog died due to old age four weeks later and we are so glad that we didn’t go along with Mr Guerin and put him through all that . I found this practice has lost its way it has of course to pay staff and keep going as a business but my God where is the passion and the compassion for owners and animals???? I have never been as disappointed in a profession as I am with vets in fairness to Gilabbey they aren’t alone in the cash first policy we had a few experiences along the way with other practices and it would seem that they’re are a lot of money grabbers in this profession and they love it if your insured. Our big boy was our first dog and we were silly and probably a little OTT about his needs and as we were insured looking back I am not sure that this wasn’t taken advantage of and that maybe our precious man endured sometimes needlessly, we are a lot wiser now. Do not expect that vets love animals they love money more!!!!

  9. I’ve just forked out Euro1,000 to Gilabbey in the last 10 days!!! My beautiful Molly is 12.5 years old and had what was diagnosed by local vet nearly a year ago as a wart on her tail and was given Castor Oil to treat!! She also has osteoarthritis which was diagnosed 8 years ago when she was 4 years old so I do take her regularly to the local vet.I pushed my local vet to check the lump as it was getting bigger, rounder and angry looking so they did a needle biopsy which came back as a Mast Cell tumour. They hence referred me to Gilabbey who initially said (after 484 eur – taking bloods, giving hero, recommended tail Chemo and tail amputation! Recommended treatment by them (1k later) is chemo and tail amputation!!!! Why on earth would anyone put a 12.5 much loved beautiful dog through that. Had her in Gilabbey yesterday for a scan and x-ray to see if the cancer had spread, another 484 euro (250 for the Ultrasound, it cost me 150 last year to have one done for myself privately!!). they are recommending Chemo and tail amputation!!! Seriously! I keep saying my beautiful girl is 12.5 years old, why on earth would you put a beautiful dog through that.

    Needless to say, I am very angry and can’t trust them because it seems to be all about the money, especially if you have pet insurance!

    Would welcome responses, as I have decided my lovely girl will be treated conservatively and lead rest of her life happy and pain free. From other dog lovers, given this type of tumour, if they operate, it will explode.

    So disillusioned by Gilabbey,however professional they are, they will take the long road for the money and not recommend what is right for a 12.5 year old dog!

  10. Sadly i too was the victim of loosing a dog to what i was told was “constant supervision” She was suffering with kidney problems and got very easily stressed. I was away on holidays and was told that she would be monitored but what i didn’t realise was that didn’t include the night time or weekends. She spent the whole weekend only having someone come in to check on her briefly, toilet her and change her drip. She had to be pts the following Wed because she deteriorated so much in 5 days. I blame myself for what happened to her and i will never forgive myself for not being there when she died. I should never have left her. What killed me more than anything was that i had to pay 40e per day for her when she was in there but they even charged me full price for the day she was pts, that was the final nail in the coffin for me. Never went back to that vet! (Not Gillabbey btw) I hope you get justice for Danno, no dog deserves to be left unsupervised when ill, imagine how frightened they are…breaks my heart to think about it even now.. :(

  11. Marianne Ryan on June 18, 2020 @ 2:15 pm

    my heart breaks for you esp as I know how it feels to have a vet let your pet down sadly. My beautiful westie passed away on the 25th of may and I am very upset with the vets who treated him. He had fatty lump on leg and because it could be cancerous I asked vets and they didn’t want to put him under as he had grade 1 heart murmur from birth. A few months later he developed a snore one night and brought him to vets who x rayed him ( never told me earlier he could be xrayed) then told me it was non cancerous but he had an enlarged heart for quite some time. Gave me tablets and told me as he only had grade 1 heart murmur that he would be fine for a long time. He enjoyed life and seemed good until the Thursday night before 25th when he took a turn. Rang vets at 9.30 and they couldn’t see him till 4.30pm – my dog couldn’t breathe properly and I was very worried. On arrival vet gave him diuretic injection and upped his meds, said he would need water and would go to toilet. Nothing changed and rang again the next day to get appointment, same vet answered and said he’ll be ok, I’ll check him when he’s in on wed for his scheduled groom. I told her he wouldn’t be able for groom as he couldn’t eat hardly or stand, she said get chicken he’ll eat that and get heart meds and diuretic into him. He was a bit better sunday and ate chicken and his tabs. Hours later he vomited it all up – I knew in my heart and soul he was seriously ill. I had rung and texted this vets emergency number before but no one got back to me so I didn’t know what to do. I made up my mind to go over the next morning Monday and demand to know if he was suffering and if so I would have him put to sleep but he went into garden and had what looked like heart attack before they opened. I am beyond upset that this vet wouldn’t see him sat and never told me he was in danger of having heart attack . It destroys me that he suffered even for a minute and am having panic attacks from the guilt and the shock. If I had got another vet that day I could have put him out of his suffering. My dog was my family and my love and we lived alone so am utterly devastated- he was my everything

  12. Our dog Mollie went in to Gilabbey Vets on 30th June 2020 for what we were told was a minor operation with a infection.a deposit of 300 euro was paid. She was given antibiotics and an MRI scan the scan showed an infection but not too bad. We were told she needed a pio at a cost of euro 1400. We agreed to the op. She stayed overnight there. The next morning Mollie had the op and they rang my husband to say she was doing well. They rang him later to say she had eaten and went out for a walk and a pee, she was recovering well. They rang me later that night to say the dog had died and they were very sorry.
    At this point I was asked how did we want to pay for the operation over the phone. Kerching Did we want to have her cremated on her own or with others. Very focused on money.
    I rang the following day and said we would collect her at lunchtime, again I was asked did I want to pay over the phone. I said no we would settle up on collection. Due to covid you can’t enter the building. We drove up there was a veterinary person crying by the side of the building. My husband and I sat in the car and we rang them to say we were outside to collect our dog. He was asked would he pay over the phone and he said no he wanted the vet to explain to him why his dog died to understand it. She came out to us and discussed it. We are still mystified, it could have been septicaemia, it could have been the anesthetic.
    They waved the cost of the remaining 1,100 but we are still shocked and left wondering why our beautiful dog died for what was initially a routine operation which became described as a major operation after she died. We buried her in the back garden in a tunnel she was digging. We are very upset about losing a family member in this way. And will never use Gilabbey vets again.

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