Monday, June 18, 2007
Help Me Howard: Dog Dilemma
A South Florida woman finding herself in a doggie dilemma. She says not only did the veterinarian pull her pet's teeth, but she also pulled a fast one on her bill. That's when she made an appointment with Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- It's a canine candid camera moment only a dog's owner could love.
Pam Herndon: "They are like little toothless wonders. They are my children, they are my two little boys. I don't have any family.
Meet Paddington and Cousteau, the bright light in Pam's life.
Pam Herndon: "And I think everybody needs a reason to live, and it sounds silly, maybe because they are dogs, but they are my reasons. Come here, give me a kiss, you are not going to give me a kiss?"
Pam's Bischons are missing most of their teeth and its those teeth that nearly caused Pam's heart to miss a beat.
Pam Herndon: "I get their teeth cleaned, normally at a regular rate."
Before her last trip to the veterinarian, Pam was told it would cost $600 to clean both dog's teeth. She saved up and took the boys in.
Pam Herndon: "Small dogs tend to have that build up happen."
But when she called about them, the veterinarian had some bad news.
Pam Herndon: "They are finding all kinds of problems. He is saying they are going to have to pull nine of his teeth, and pull some of his teeth."
Pam says the veterinarian told her it would cost four times the original amount or $2400 dollars to do the dental work, but with one of her dogs already under anesthesia, she felt she had no choice.
Pam Herndon: "I was shocked. I don't have that kind of money, but they are my dogs so I'll make it happen."
The veterinarian did the work. The dogs were fine, but when pam was handed the bill, she was floored.
Pam Herndon: "I get Paddington and then they hand me the bill for $4600. I was pretty much in shock and not knowing how I was going to pay for it."
When she complained about the bill being nearly double the $2400 she was last quoted, the veterinarian agreed to knock a $1,000 off the price. Not enough she says.
Pam Herndon: "I think it's outrageous. I think it's unfair, it wouldn't cost you or I that much."
But the vet's work is done and there was no quote in writing so how much does Pam owe? Howard, want to sink your teeth into this one?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 Legal Expert: "It doesn't matter who you are dealing with, a contract is a contract. It can be over the phone or in writing, it can be about a car repair or tooth extraction. If someone gives you a price, they cannot change it without your permission.
When we spoke to the veterinarian, he told us it's hard to give a specific price when the dog is already under. He says there was obviously a miscommunication about the bill.
He then agreed to reduce Pam's bill to the original $2400 she had agreed to pay.
Pam Herndon: "See his little tongue sticking out, because he doesn't have any teeth to hold it in."
Pam says that's still a lot, but it's fair.
Pam Herndon: "I'm happy with it. I feel that we made a verbal agreement for $2400, and I am willing to pay that, and that was it the whole time."
Pam feels better. Her nearly toothless bishons might describe their condition another way.
Pam Herndon: "Rouuugghhh. Except they lisp now so it would be kind of roouttthhh, because they don't have any teeth."
Patrick Fraser: "Just like a person might get a second opinion before surgery, if a veterinarian says your dog needs expensive procedures, get a second opinion. Another veterinarian may disagree or give you a much better price. Either way, it can't hurt.
A dilemma dogging you. Need us to extract a solution for you, contact us. Our legal advice is not priceless, but we're not toothless either.
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