us that they received a complaint and would be performing a full investigation. After interviewing all
parties, the investigation found that we had taken all
necessary steps to ensure the safety of the client’s dog
and found no fault on the veterinarian’s part.
Two years later, we fielded a call on a Friday afternoon for a dog that needed to get in right away because the owner’s usual veterinarian was booked and
the other vets they called were booked, too. Once we
identified the client, we informed her that although we
always make time for our usual clients in this situation,
we would not be providing any further services for her.
The owner was furious, but not nearly as outraged
as I was that she would call our clinic asking for help
after dragging our name through the mud and telling a
state investigator that I was incompetent!
I have no regrets about turning this client away.
I can completely understand Dr. Epperley’s emotional
response to the return of this client!
Kendell Michel, DVM
See her return as a compliment
I would offer that it is quite a compliment this client
I would try to impress her at this next visit and ap-
Jay Murphy, DVM
preciate her return. I would openly mention the prior
mistake. “I am glad Fluffy did well after my declaw
goof a couple of years ago! I am so happy you have
come back to see us.”
I think you could make her a loyal client for life.
Service should have been ‘gratis’
It’s deplorable that this happened in this day and
age. What if the pet had OSA and you removed the
wrong leg? Perhaps a bit extreme, but the ultimate
person responsible is the surgeon.
I empathize with you, however, and find it interesting that your bosses as well as your malpractice rep all
bailed on you. You did admit the error to the client up
But I can’t believe that your hospital still charged
her for the spay and then acted like you gave away an
It would have been a better move to have privately
consulted with the client and offered the entire service
“gratis” in exchange for her understanding and taking
no further action and hope to see her again for future
services. Better preventive medicine may be to discontinue declawing cats unless the client has HIV or is
Stephen Egelhofer, DVM
Everyone has a horror story
I read your story with empathy. Anyone who has
been practicing long enough has at least one horror
story, even if they are very, very conscientious. Mine
was neutering the wrong dog.
I worked at a place that did a lot of boarding. In
those days, the assistants would give the aceproma-zine premed before the doctor did the pre-anesthetic
physical. The assistant brought up a young male
golden retriever who had obviously been aced. Even
though every animal in my hospital must wear a paper
neck band, it did not occur to me to check it as this dog
fit the bill for the pet I was to neuter.
Surgery went well and the dog went home the next
day with his owner. About an hour after the dog went
home, the man called back and said, “I don’t think this is
my dog”—and he was right. Of course, when he spoke
with the practice owners, he was planning on breeding
his pet-quality dog.
The owners bought him a new puppy and did all
vaccines, etc., for free. I never had to talk to the owner
as it was my day off and my last week working at that
hospital. There were never any harsh words from the
practice owners because it could have happened to
them as well because they also did not check name
I returned to the practice after 15 years and I ALWAYS check name bands just before I administer anesthesia, even if it is my pet.! This practice no longer has
techs administer premeds until after the pre-op exam.
We have Western University veterinary students
come in and I always tell them they will make mistakes, but since I have warned them, neutering the
wrong dog should NOT be one of them.
As a side note, one of the students DID get the
wrong dog for a bilateral cryptorchid neuter. She took
out a neutered male. The doctor did not check the
name band and was not concerned that there were no
testicles as that’s why the dog was there.
One of the technicians walked by and said, “Why
do you have that dog out? He’s here for vomiting, not
Crisis averted—except that dog did go to surgery
the next day to remove a piece of tennis ball that was
causing a partial obstruction. It would have been horri-
ble if the dog had had two surgeries as the abdominal
incisions would possibly have been to different areas.
As to what I would have done in Dr. Epperley’s
situation, the practice probably would have given a
discount or done the spay at no charge for PR reasons.
As to seeing the woman two years later, it would
have been awkward but the fact she came back to
your clinic shows she did not bear a grudge. Also since
she didn’t go ballistic when you told her about the accidental declaw, I am suspicious her complaints were
always that she was hoping for money off the bill.
Believe me there are worse things—like euthanizing
the wrong pet. Let’s keep things in perspective. If only
our clients would. Sigh.
Cindy Wade, DVM
Costa Mesa, Calif.
“We are still looking for a
primary etiology for the bloody
diarrhea. The histopathology
on the dogs hasn’t revealed
gut and intestinal tract lesions,
just the bloody diarrhea,”
Forshey says. “So there’s no
damage to the intestinal lining.
There’s a distinct possibility
this is a co-infection, not just
one organism – maybe viral or
While similar clinical signs
have presented, none of the
affected dogs’ symptoms man-
ifested identically. The detec-
tion of circovirus is a concern,
Forshey says, but it doesn’t
mean it caused the disease.
“We are steering away
from circovirus as a primary
etiology,” Forshey says. “In
many cases with gastroin-
testinal organisms, multiple
organisms are present. Once
one starts to grow and immu-
nosuppresses the host, other
organisms take the opportuni-
ty to grow, producing clinical
signs that are unique to a pri-
mary infection alone.”
In June 2012, the Journal
of Virology reported that re-
search by Amit Kapoor, et al.,
detected canine circovirus
genotype 1 (CaCV- 1) in serum
samples from several dogs (six
of 205 animals tested), repre-
senting the first non-porcine
circovirus confirmed to infect
mammals. Additionally, the vi-
rus was detected in 14 out of
204 healthy dogs’ stool.
PCR tests on dogs with and
without clinical disease indicate a prevalence rate of between 2. 9-11. 3 percent, according to an American Veterinary
Medical Association report.
This suggests that this new virus, either alone or as a co-infection with other pathogens,
might contribute to dog illness
“Since circovirus was pres-
ent in at least one of the dogs,
and it is known that in pigs
the virus’ presence can wors-
en the effects of other types of
pathogens, the ODA advises
veterinarians to report relat-
ed patient illness and immedi-
ately begin supportive care,”
Hawkins says. “Right now lit-
tle is known about the virus,
including where it comes from
or how it spreads.”
One of the paths researchers
are investigating is whether it
is transferred through a par-
asitic vector, but at this point
vectors are just a speculative
consideration. At press time,
Lindsay Ruland, DVM, owner
of Emergency Veterinary Hos-
pital in Ann Arbor, Mich., has
seen possibly hundreds of dogs
with the symptoms similar to
canine circovirus over the past
“We’ve seen the symptoms
mostly in dogs but in a few
cats, rabbits and a swan,” Dr.
Ruland says. “It is possible
that the virus or cause of the
illness is being transferred be-
tween humans and animals.
The Michigan Department of
Community Health and the
state veterinary office are
looking into the illnesses.”
Two cases of canine cir-
covirus have been identified
in Michigan, says Thomas
Mullaney, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl.
ACVIM, acting director of the
Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health at
Michigan State University.
Nancy Frank, DVM, assistant state veterinarian with
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, says state officials have
been talking with private veterinarians about circovirus after reporting potentially related cases.
Michigan officials are offering testing assistance through
Michigan State University to
veterinarians whose patients
present with symptoms that
cannot be diagnosed. Two to
three veterinarians across the
state have submitted samples,
Dr. Mullaney says.
In an effort to perform a
phylogenetic analysis on
affected dogs’ disease, the
ODA submitted samples to
the University of California,
Davis, School of Veterinary
Medicine. Veterinarians are
interested in learning if circo-
virus is relevant to the canine
illness and if so, is the virus’s
DNA the same in affected
dogs found in different parts
of the country.
A pathologist at The Ohio
State University (OSU) veterinary medical center performed
a necropsy on one of the three
Cincinnati dogs but could not
determine the cause of death.
Melissa Weber, director
of communications and marketing at OSU, said the clinic
turned over some of the samples it obtained from the sick
Cincinnati dogs to the ODA for
“None of the dogs affiliated
with the rash of illnesses were
treated at OSU,” Weber says.
“We have not treated any oth-
er dogs at OSU we suspected
were related to the reported
For now, more questions
than answers have result-
ed from veterinary findings
on the affected dogs in both
Ohio and Michigan. Research-
ers urge veterinarians with
similarly presenting cases to
contact the ODA Division of
Animal Health or the Michi-
gan Department of Communi-
ty Health. ;