INCREDIBLE INCOMPETENCE AT WEST VALLEY--AMMENDED
This is a long post. It tells a tale of incredible incompetence or neglect bordering on animal cruelty by West Valley shelter and one of its outsourced private vets, Porter Pet Hospital.
This story just keeps getting better and better so hang in to the end.
Two of Ron Mason’s impounded cats, Simba and Foxy, were adopted on March 2. So far so good.
LAAS requires all animal leaving the shelter to have been neutered before coming in or before being adopted out. Apparently many if not all spay/neuters from the West Valley shelter are done by referred vet, such as Noreda or Porter Pet Hospital. (Noreda is excellent.)
Simba and Foxy had been spayed, one about a year ago and one about five years ago at Holiday Humane.
On March 2, Ron was at the shelter with the adopter, and told everyone at the shelter that Foxy and Simba had already been spayed. Mason had been telling personnel (unnamed) at West Valley which cats had been speutered (spay/neuter) ever since he had been allowed to see them after the informal hearing on his non-case on January 16, after his informal hearing with the Hearing Officer at the City Attorney’s office.
Apparently no vet or tech had ever checked the cats to see if they had been speutered despite the fact they had been in cages in their facilities for FIVE MONTHS!!
They didn’t check. This is pure negligence or incompetence. They either didn’t check or they checked and failed to see hysterectomy scar! Or…
How could Dr. Rao, who is the West Valley vet, and who is scheduled to perform 3,000 spay/neuter surgeries a year not know the cats had already been spayed even while those cats had been under his care for five months? Why did he not spay them any time during the five months? Did he figure they’d never Make it out alive?
If the vet staff could not determine whether the cats were spayed, how could Boks so self-assuredly tell the media and post on the LAAS website about all the un-sterilized cats found on Mason’s property?
Another rescuer told me a similar story. He/she writes:
”This almost happened to me too at West Valley. Fortunately Ron was there and he told them so they looked. If I'd gone by myself I would have had to take their word for it, as by that point the cats were in the back somewhere where I couldn't look and see. The ACO was pretty nice and knows Ron. But in their records they had entered the info incorrectly, and it never occurred to anyone to lift his tail and see.”
”The other thing is, for this bust to proceed as originally planned, which was as a PR arrest of a felony animal-neglector, it would hardly have been in their interest for their official records to reflect that all the seized cats had in fact been spayed/neutered. My guess is they were going to "disappear" Ron's records, then the only data would be their records, which would "indisputably" show that none of these cats had been spay/neutered. This supports my theory that this was all for the benefit of the rescue community, as the general public isn't going to be outraged that the cats were allegedly unaltered -- seeing as how it's not illegal to not alter your cat. Only a rescuer is going to think not spay/neutering constitutes neglect.”
Anyway, this is just the beginning.
The adopter was told by unnamed male staffer (remaining unnamed for the present) that the two cats needed to be spayed at Porter Pet Hospital. After Ron told him they had been spayed, the staffer then said they had to be “checked” at Porter to see if they had been spayed or not. Apparently Dr. Rao or a tech could not be bothered to check the cats then and there to see whether they had been spayed before they went to Porter Monday morning.
The adopter was told that if Simba and Foxy had been spayed, she/he would get $28 back each. He/she was also told that they would be entitled to a free examination within the first 7 days.
When these spayed cats were picked up from Porter Pet Hospital on March 3, they found both cats had been operated on again--for spaying!
The office manager at Porter, Natalie, a nasty woman whose every fourth word was “money,” “office charge,” or “bill,” told me later:
“As you know, it is sometimes hard to tell whether a female cat has been spayed or not. We always do a thorough pre-surgery evaluation, but you can’t always tell.”
(Really? I didn’t know that. After you shave the cats and see the abdominal scars, you can’t tell?)
Natalie made no excuses. She said they were just following orders from the West Valley Shelter and it was all on them, if I had anything to say, call them. Natalie said it had nothing to do with any mistake by Porter.
Hmmm. Animal Services "ordered" the surgery versus sending them for a "check"?
Porter Hospital personnel also could not tell they had been spayed before they opened the cats up again? This sounds like tales from a Third World hospital, or the worst kind of hospital screw up we read about in the LA Times happening at Harbor or other County facility.
When the cats were picked up, he/she was told the cats had to be brought back to Porter for an office exam and shots in two weeks for an extra $45! A nice money-making service for the vet.
Five days after the unnecessary surgery, one of the cats, Simba, developed a golf ball sized swelling at the incision site. Simba was taken back to Porter where she was taken to the back room and a pressure bandage was applied. The adopted was given a bottle of amoxi. The adopter was told to leave Simba’s sutures in for two full weeks instead of ten days as for Foxy.
The doctor was never seen face to face even though the "adjusted" March 27 invoice said there was an “Exam-Consultation.”
The adopter asked about the free examination that the cats were supposed to get. Natalie told the adopter that offer only applied for the first seven days. The adopter said, “That’s tomorrow.” Natalie said, “We are booked up today and tomorrow. We can make an appointment for next week, but there will be a $45 charge for an office visit.
Can you believe this?
Because the adopter works 10 hours a day, six days a week in Pasadena, Ron Mason offered to transport the cats back and forth between the Porter Pet Hospital and the adopter’s home.
Ron will do the same for any of the five remaining cats at West Valley if necessary. I will too.
On the 13th Ron went back to Porter with Foxy to have the stitches taken out. Natalie greeted him/her and said, “There is a note here that no stitches are to be taken out until the adopter pays the $64.50 bill.”
Stunned, Ron said, “What $64.50 bill?”
Natalie said it was for the office visit when Simba was treated for an infection (?) following their unnecessary surgery, wrapping the bandage ($25.00) around the cat, the cost of the bandage itself ($17.00) and the amoxi ($22.50).
Since you can get the “pressure” bandage material at any hospital pharmacy for less than two bucks a yard, that’s not an overcharge is it?
Mason’s statement to Natalie was, “Do you mean that the adopter had to pay $56 for two unnecessary surgeries, which caused an infection, which was then treated by you for a fee, which had to be paid before the stitches were removed? Does that mean the stitches are not going to be removed forever? Did I hear you right.”
This is where Natalie changed her story about knowing whether the cats had been spayed prior to Porter doing it again.
Mason said “Didn’t you see the spay scars before you operated?
Natalie answered, “Well, we thought she (Simba) might have had hernia surgery, and we had to open her up to make sure there was no uterus.”
Mason responded, “You thought both cats had identical hernia surgeries?”
Natalie said nothing.
In any event, after a bit of a heated discussion, Natalie comped the vet fees and Ron paid the $22.50 for the amoxi. Mason paid for the amoxi. Then the adjusted March 27 invoice given to him, showing the comped infection/hernia treatment, and also claiming a comped exam-consult on March 3, the day of the surgery, even though no vet was ever seen for the "consult."
During the 4 visits to Porter by neither the adopter or Mason ever saw the vet.
This whole situation raises many questions.
Why did these cats have to suffer unnecessary surgeries? Is there more here than just gross incompetence by Animal Services and Porter? Was this as the rescuer suggested above, part of a cover up because Boks had claimed the Mason cats had not been speutered, and doing the surgery at Porter would prove they had not been spayed?
Is this situation unique with Ron as a cover up, or is this routine either at Porter or elsewhere? Is anyone at Animal Services quality checking on the work Porter and other vets do for Animal Services? What is Porter’s reputation?
Is there even a slightest possibility that these unnecessary surgeries happen often because Animal Services boosts it’s spay/neuter numbers with every surgery performed, unnecessary or not, and Porter makes a few bucks every time a surgery is done, unnecessary or not?
Animal Services and Porter have no reason to look too closely; surgery, unnecessary or not, is a win-win for them, but a huge and sometimes life-threatening loss for the animals and the public who pays for them.
Mr. Boks, I ask you to very closely look into this relationship you have with your contract vets and find out what is going on. Is there just incompetence on both sides, or is there something more?
By the way, Simba and Foxy had signs on their cages that they could not be handled. The adopter had no difficulty handling the cats after the surgery, and Porter staff had no problem removing the cats from their cages when brought in to have their stitches removed.
I saw Simba when she was recovering with her pressure bandage on. There was nothing feral about her. The photo of Simba was taken just after she got home from the vet.
This whole situation is unconscionable.
This is animal cruelty and I am going to file a complaint against Porter with the State Veterinary Board.
Call Natalie and ask her some questions and offer your opinions and recommendations.
Natalie at Porter Pet Hospital:
The services section of the website says there is a pain management injection given while the animal is waking up. But, I guess Animal Services animals don't get it. It was not on their bill.
By the way, the adopter asked Natalie at Porter to send her/him a note that said the cats had been spayed prior to surgery. West Valley said the money would be refunded after receipt of the note. Instead, Natalie sent the adopter a letter said, "In my professional opinion, the following animal is incapable of breeding--Simba," signed by Ronald Newman, D.V.M.
Dr. Newman, would that be because of the spay operation she had before you operated, or the as a result of your second spay operation?
Now we will see whether West Valley accepts that and refunds the money which will be donated to fee Mason's cats.