July 13, 2006, Our beloved Usdi drew her last labored breath. As the anniversary of her passing draws near, I am updating this site with pictures and memories. For those of you who have passed this way before, we have still not gotten a single word of sorrow from the monster that destroyed Usdi's life and the justice we so desperately seek remains evasive.
However, if this story makes you realize the dangers of careless use of steroids by your vet and this story is not repeated on another helpless pet, Usdi's death will have some meaning.
I want to tell you Usdi's story. I am sure that much that touched our hearts will be omitted but I believe you will understand who she was, what she was and why we seek to spread the word about "assembly line" Veterinary medicine.
Usdi came into our lives in the spring of 1997. I think we felt sorry for her and really didn't want a dog. In fact, she started her life with us as an outside pup on a chain. Soon, she found that getting loose and running to the house door often resulted in a treat. It didn't take long before she was a full time couch potato. Too soon as well, she showed us her unique personality was unlike any fur baby we had ever had. She was not only smart, she was affectionate, kind, had bad days, liked to play tricks, smiled, frowned, things that dogs just do not do. She was aware of herself, different and so loving.
As Usdi matured, she had an occasional bout with allergies. It was usually an itchy "behind" and she would usually get an antihistamine like hydroxyzene and the problem would clear up. We changed vets several times over Usdi's life until in about 2001, we settled on one who seemed to have the most experience and was a very cordial, likeable person. This vet would be the one we would keep. After all, I felt a trust that I had not felt in other vets. My mistake!!!
Usdi's allergies came to bother her most often in the spring and summer. As she got older, the bouts came more frequently and this vet often treated her with vetalog, a steroid that often worked quite well to help her stave off her itchy spells. Why question what works? After all, vets are trained to administer drugs to our fur-babies safely, aren't they? I had even questioned this vet about the safety of this drug. He said he had used it safely for years without a problem. My mistake!
In late spring 2005, Usdi was having an allergy problem. I took her to this vet and as usual, he administered Vetalog, clearing up the problem. Within days, I found myself with Usdi at an Emergency vet clinic. Usdi could not breath and was wheezing . I thought she had pneumonia. It was fluid in her lungs and around her heart. The attending vet at the clinic seemed to think she had heart disease and put her in an oxygen kennel for the night, put her on heart meds and lasix. I was to follow up on Monday with her regular vet which I did.
Her vet immediately took her off the heart meds but left her on the lasix.. Over the days, she improved but I still worried that it was her heart and asked for an EKG to be done.
This procedure is done by phone to a specialist in New York. The procedure was done and Usdi's heart seemed fine. Still, some fluid remained as did the allergies, vetalog. I didn't put two and two together at that time...
Usdi was a little heavy and was put on canine R-D, hoping that shedding a few pounds would help her heart if that was the problem. She was also allowed plain unsalted canned green beans, bless her heart. In 9 months of being on this diet, she lost zero pounds. She was also allowed one small can of pedigree a day. That was her entire daily intake for 9 full months. During this time, she still received an occasional vetalog shot for her allergies and looking back, it always resulted in her needing lasix a few days later.
Fast forward to late June 2006.
Usdi had an especially bad spring where allergies were concerned. We know that she received at least 6 vetalog injections in the spring/summer of this last year of her life. By early July, Usdi was having a really hard time breathing. She was on lasix full time, hydroxyzene and that darn diet. I took her to the vet, over and over. Finally he threw up his hands and said"I just don't know what else to do for her". He also told me that when it was "time" to call him and he would do the deed himself. He even gave me his home number, like some kind of dear friend.
He gave up!!
That night I spent in the car at a emergency clinic in a nearby town so Usdi could stay in an oxygen kennel.
The next day, I found VCA Animal Hospital in the phone book and called, made an appointment and took off the 25 miles to that facility.
If you have never been to a VCA before, I must tell you I was impressed.
Usdi's new vet was a professional. His first questions, "has she been diagnosed?", Second question, "has a blood test been done?" He didnt have to say anything, his face said it all when I told him there had NEVER been a blood test. He explained to me that a responsible vet would do regular blood screening when administering steroids or lasix, both of which she had been on for a long, long time. In her case, there had never even been a mention of any blood work whatsoever.
Blood was taken and I took Usdi home. We were to return the next morning for a diagnosis and to review treatment options.
That night, I spent in the car again while Usdi stayed in an oxygen kennel at the emergency clinic, yet again.
The next morning with Usdi and I both worn out, we headed to VCA for the results.
Her blood was a toxic soup(see the actual blood test click here) and the main concern was her blood sugar. If Usdi were human, she would be dead!!! This new vet wanted to keep her and start treatment for the diabetes that had went undiagnosed for years and made worse by the vetalog.
The whole world came crashing down.... The supposed heart disease, the fluid, the weight problem unaffected by the prescription diet, the breathing problems, ALL CAUSED OR MADE WORSE BY THE VETALOG. I was told and confirmed online that Vetalog should only be administered for a short while and blood/urine should be monitored carefully during this treatment. Usdi was getting this drug sometimes once ever two weeks and never, ever, not once given a blood or urine test .
It was also explained to me that there were many,many treatment options for allergies. Steroids are used only as a last resort and very judiciously. Maybe someone should have told Usdi's regular vet??? This stuff(vetalog) had been slowly killing her for the years she had given it. Had this vet followed procedure and tested blood and urine, Usdi would still be here today, I firmly believe.
This new vet told me to leave her in his hands and go home. He would begin immediately treating her for the problems that months and years of mistreatment had caused. I left Usdi with tears in my eyes. I had never left her before. I will never forget her looking at me from an oxygen kennel. Her eyes pleading for me to stay and I could see the fear. I spoke softly telling her that it was going to be ok and that I loved her with all my heart. I walked out not knowing that this moment in time that had just passed would be my last with my precious baby girl.
I drove home knowing that at last the help we expected from Usdi's regular vet would come from another.
I had not been home but a few minutes and the phone rang, It was Dr(delete).
Usdi had just passed away.
He told me that he had just given her the first treatment to bring down her blood sugar and she just died. He did attempt to revive her and she did come back for a few minutes, then passed away forever.
I am a grown man, half a century old. I have seen death, felt death and the sorrow it brings but nothing has ever torn out my heart like Usdi's passing. Maybe because I know it was uncalled for. Maybe it is true that a dog is a man's best friend. Usdi was certainly mine, my constant companion for 9 years and she was gone forever.
It may be suprising that some people who visit Usdi's web site blame us and not Usdi's vet for her suffering and death. I would be the first to say that trusting a vet to do the right thing is a mistake. I trusted Dr "Kervorkian"(not his real name) for years and he was slowly killing my fur-baby. Had this vet had his way, Usdi would have been put down by him so that no other vet would know what he had done to her.
we count the days without her
The Aftermath & Adventures with The State Medical Examiners Office
Where we live on a hilltop, the earth is rocky and hard.
I worked for hours digging a hole that would not compare to the hole in my heart and our lives.
We purchased a coffin fit for a child which Usdi was and I placed with her the blue ball we played with together, My eagle feather, my dog tags from the Army her favorite blanket and a good part of my soul and soaked them all with tears.
I sealed the coffin, covered it with the earth from the hole and placed a red fern on her grave. Her stone, a massive piece of catlinite, the color of blood and shaped like the heart she stold with her love. Nothing now but silence.....
Several days later and still in shock, I decided to file a complaint with the State Of Tennessee, board of medical examiners. Vets must face wrong doing just like a doctor, here I would get justice for Usdi. After all, the case was already made.
Within a week or so, I was contacted by an investigator with the state medical board who would be visiting Dr Kervorkian(still not his real name). She has a series of questions and had already received a copy of Usdi's records. She seemed to think we had a fairly clearcut case against this vet and would call us again with an update soon.
Several weeks went by and one day she called. She had made this vet sit down with her the most of an entire day reviewing Usdi's records. He had been forced to cancel his appointments? This investigator told us by phone that day that he(*the vet) admitted to her that he "dropped the ball" in Usdi's case. She told us that she was certain we would be pleased with the outcome of this investigation.
Days, weeks and months passed, we heard nothing from the state. My wife finally called to inquire about the hearing that was to be held on this case and found it was deemed "closed". But why? No one had ever contacted us by mail, phone, email, nothing. And even after he admitted guilt, still the state advisory board made up of practicing "vets???" didnt think this vet did anything wrong and dropped the case????? This took almost one year and it came down to practicing vets to be the decider? I wonder how many on this advisory board either know this vet that killed Usdi, play golf with him or maybe attended vet school with him??? I do sincerely wonder why a case where the vet admitted guilt was dropped so quickly and without a hearing? So much for the state.
Since this time we have learned that a civil case would be the only means find justice. In the case of animals, one can only hope to recover the worth of the animal in question and cannot ever legally do more. Usdi was worth all my belongings, more important to me than every material thing this vet owns, I don't want his money or his "stuff", I want justice. I want to be able to put his name in print for all to see, nothing more. But the legal system in this state will never allow that so I share my story with you.
I share to let you know that this can happen to you and your beloved pet if you place your trust in a vet that takes short cuts, expedites treatments and ignores the rules of veterinary medicine..
There is no excuse for taking short cuts, omitting tests and "hoping" for the best. This vet, I HOPE AND PRAY, is haunted by this for the rest of his life. I certainly will.