Veterinarian's perspective on sick dog
September 19, 2013
My name is Dr. Paul McCann. I own Bear Paw Veterinary Service and am concerned about the recent articles about Shadow, a canine owned by the Smith family. I appreciate the concern of this community and the generosity of certain people on supporting Carrie Smith financially in helping Shadow. I am disappointed in both articles; let me present some information that is important.
Friday, Sept. 6, Carrie requested help with Shadow, a 10-month-old male Labrador-cross, for feeling ill and vomiting blood. Dr. Casey Peterson accepted the case and evaluated Shadow. Shadow was new to us, so Dr. Peterson inquired on history of health and vaccines. Carrie said that Eastside Animal Hospital was the primary veterinary care for Shadow, but Eastside was not available this day. Carrie said that Shadow was vaccinated, does chew on toys but doesn't usually swallow them and had only a slim chance of eating mouse poison, etc.
Blood analysis was done and digital radiographs were taken. Medicines were given to address a delayed clotting time and Shadow was admitted into our hospital for further diagnostics and supportive care. Concerns at this time were that shadow ingested something toxic or was having an immune driven reaction. Subsequent clinical signs and testing revealed that Shadow had a stomach and intestinal virus called Parvo virus.
In tracing the vaccine history on Shadow, it became apparent that he had not been properly vaccinated to prevent this disease. I will discuss this topic further in an article for the paper — many dog and cat owners may not understand proper vaccine selection and timing of boosters to give proper immunity to these preventable illnesses.
This is where the first newpaper article appeared and created public alarm about Shadow being poisoned. I believe this article stemmed from comments on the social media site Facebook. Shadow's owners thought that such an infection is fatal, but Dr. Peterson told them it is treatable and with intensive care, many dogs heal up and return to normal. Shadow's owners wanted to continue treatment knowing that it is costly to treat this disease.
After the article in the paper or the Facebook comments, philanthropic donations began arriving at our clinic in support of Shadow and his toxic ailment. We clarified with the generous people the cause of Shadow's condition and that the toxic concern was not a reality. Many of them chose to apply their gift to the Smith family's veterinary expenses even though the perceived cause of condition was not accurate.
Several of my staff donated their time and our hospital donated supplies to support Shadow through this viral infection. This helped keep the expense down to the Smith family. Shadow was hospitalized from Sept. 6 through Sept. 13 then discharged to his family feeling much better able to eat and drink properly once again.
The end bill was $790.57 for the diagnostic, medicines and intensive care for those nine days at Bear Paw Veterinary Service. Smiths paid $305.57, which was the medical deposit of $250 plus $55.57 at discharge, and benefactors paid $484.82.
When our staff called Smiths on Monday, Sept. 16, we were informed that Shadow was doing well.
The newspaper called wanting to write a correction or follow-up article on Shadow. When I visited with the reporter, I thought he might take the opportunity to clarify the facts of Shadow's case and help the readers better understand prevention of canine Parvo virus. The article did not accomplish either of these. The inaccurate financial data is misleading and the people responsible for the positive outcome of Shadow’s illness were not recognized.
Shadow is alive today due to the care provided by Dr. Peterson and my fine staff.
Paul McCann, DVM, Havre
(Editor's note: Information for Havre Daily News stories came from Carrie Smith, Shadow's owner.)