Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Protecting Your Pet: Pet Malpractice
You know the expression, every dog has its day. Well for some, that day may be in court. More and more animal owners are suing their vets for pet malpractice. Here's Marilyn Mitzel with today's protecting your pet.
WSVN -- Patricia will never forget the night her beloved lab was in a horrible accident. He was dragged behind a car.
Patricia Foye: "I was just praying that maybe he just broke his leg."
The injuries were far more serious. Sugar who now uses a 'dog' wheelchair' for his back.
Patricia: "The next morning the doctor calls me back and said that she had some bad news, she said that sugar was doing good but he had no pain sensation."
Sugar had emergency surgery, but afterwards his vertebra was still out of place.
Patricia: "I was shocked to see my dog like that."
Patricia says she was never given any other options besides surgery, she also says she was never told about any potential side effects, that's why she's taking legal action against the animal hospital.
Patricia's lawyer: "There are areas of the law that you can argue that people have a duty to you and if they breach that duty they owe you any damages that they have cause."
This isn't the first case of its kind. In California, a jury awarded $39,000 dollars to the owner of a dog that was misdiagnosed.
A Kentucky jury awarded $15,000 to the owner of a dog that bled to death, and in Florida a man is suing his vet for medical complications that killed his dog.
Attorney Steven Wise: "Judges are beginning to award more money for the loss."
Attorney Steven Wise has been speaking out for animal rights for more than 20 years. He says a lot has changed over that time.
Steven Wise: "I don't get offers of $50 dollars to settle a case as I may have say in 1985."
Veterinarians however argue that they're just doing their job, and that malpractice cases will only drive up the cost of treatment.
Veterinarian Dr. John De Jong: "Ultimately a lot of people will be priced out of properly providing for their animals and that's a mistake."
But Patricia claims her vet made the mistake so she's moving forward with legal action.
Patricia: "I promised Sugar I would take care of him for the rest of his life as long as he wants. I'm not giving up on him."
And from the looks of things -- Sugar isn't giving up either.
It's important to note pets are considered property, which is why attorneys have a difficult time winning cases in court.
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