Mulan's Horror Story
An overview - what happened to us under the corrupt Michigan justice system and the antiquated 1919 dog law
Dr. S, DVM opened my eyes to the way the system is manipulated by bad veterinarians that kill or maim our pets, then walk away from the carnage without taking responsibility. Dr. S is seems to think he is beyond reproach and after almost 5 years refuses to admit he is responsible for almost killing my dog. I'm still waiting for him to take care of the damage done as he promised. He instead spent TENS OF THOUSANDS on attorney fees to fight me rather than do the right thing and man up and take care of the damages - which would have been considerably less. He has spent much of that time in denial claiming he didn't leave the gauze in Mulan even though the evidence isirrefutable. It's been a lengthy and harrowing process of intimidation by Dr. S, his insurance carrier CNA, his attorneys Ms. M and Ms. B and the system. When there is finally a settlement and the bills are paid, I will offered to voluntarily remove Dr. S's name from this page but the story will remain. (I refused to do it when he was threatening me and demanding it be removed). And just so you'll notice, it's still here.
How it started
Because Dr. S held himself out to be a reproduction specialist, on 12/26/2008 we decided to have Dr. S who is located on Bennett Road in Okemos, Michigan - about 35 minutes from our home, do an emergency c-section on our show dog Mulan. She had a puppy stuck sideways in the Y of the uterine canal that prevented labor from progressing. Up until the c-section, Mulan had been healthy and happy with no health problems. She had won several awards at dog shows, was AKC pointed, and had spent 3 years training to show, and loved doing it. She was the quintessential show dog that LOVED showing and her career had just started taking off when she had 3 puppies by caesarian section...2 boys and a girl. I never dreamed what would come next. Mulan spent the spring hanging around with her kids. We had planned on keeping Theodore to show, sold Alvin to a great home, and had a show home lined up for Simone. Dr. S told us both boys had testicles, so that was the plan. However, we later discovered he was wrong...neither boy had both testicles - and without them we couldn't show Theodore. So instead of placing Simone, we kept her too. That should have forebode the sloppiness of Dr. S as he had done this before with another of our dogs, Riggs. For a "reproduction specialist" it behooves me to wonder how he could make a mistake that serious...after all, shouldn't he be a "pro" in that department?
Eight months after the surgery Mulan was admitted to MSU for life-threatening pyometra-like symptoms which turned out to be caused by a gauze left behind by Dr. S during the c-section. He bragged immediately after the surgery that he had beat his fastest time yet: 1.38 minutes which was less than 2 minutes which was his previous record! However, unknown to us, because of his "race" in the operating room, Mulan hid the intense pain she was suffering for 8 months and couldn't tell us, while her body produced a huge growth of tissue the size of a cantaloupe around the piece of gauze he left behind. Her body was attempting to isolate a staph infection due to Dr. S's sloppy procedure. Being a stoic malamute, we had no way of knowing until the infection became life threatening and she was close to death, because unfortunately, dogs can't talk and tell us when they are in severe pain. They will pretend nothing is wrong.
The MSU vet clinic saved her life, but Dr. S and his insurance company disputed the claim even though there was ample evidence the gauze didn't get inside her body cavity by itself! Dr. S opined that he felt the vets at MSU should have pieced her uterus back together - even though it was so damaged and infected by staphylococci it probably would have killed her to do so. Due to the great care at Michigan State University's Clinic, Mulan lived - but the vet bill was astronomical. On top of that, the required spay ended her career as a show dog and future mom of $1,500 exceptionally pedigreed puppies. Mulan, a young wonderfully temperamented girl, healthy and a pointed AKC show dog will never be able to finish her championship or produce sought-after puppies again.
Many people on the waiting list for future puppies were sorely disappointed. Dr. S's insurance company hired expert witnesses - two top ranking Malamute breeders (Nancy Russell of Storm Kloud and Sandy D'Andrea of Nanuke Kennel) and a scottie breeder Cindy Cook (a friend of Dr. S) to determine the "value" of Mulan sight unseen. They claimed she was worth $200....now, if you have priced puppies lately...you'll know that even an AVERAGE PET QUALITY Malamute puppy is going for around $1,200 or more these days....show puppies can go as high as $15,000 or more with pedigrees as nice as Mulan's. Actually, a proven brood bitch, pointed and winning is never for sale! Amazingly, these "experts" sold out a competitor for a few bucks. I hope it never happens to their top show prospect! Logically you would think the value of Mulan would be the value of her puppies (like any other business that produces something) but no, thanks to the 1919 dog law an expert witness who has never even seen Mulan, or that may not even be knowledgeable of her breed, can come up with number value. I hope you will all contact these people for one of THEIR $200 top pointed show prospects! (I'll gladly give you their numbers!)
But I digress, I will try and present this in the order of how things transpired so that you can become aware of just how broken the system is. Please be patient, as this has taken almost 5YEARS, thousands of dollars and undetermined time to come to an end ...so sit down, relax, it's going to take some time....
Crisis - Mulan is Dying - off to MSU
8/5/2009 7:15 pm went to let dogs out, no Mula. Eight months after the c-section surgery, I found Mula lying by a toilet, and when asked her to go out she was moving very lethargic and slow with her head down. She seemed depressed. Walking carefully she went outside. I realized this was like when Star had Pyometra so I put Mula in van and headed off to the MSU emergency clinic.
8/5/2009 8:20 pm Arrived at MSU. Filled out form with history and wrote it was likely an “emergency pyometra” based on her symptoms, and also checked that she’s a show dog. No one seemed to be taking the fact that it was an emergency very seriously. I was told to wait in waiting room as I preferred to keep Mula with me than have them take her away so as not to stress her, since they said it would be a wait. Left waiting there until approx. 9:30 pm when we went into the cubicle. Questioned by a student who said the vet was backed up due to emergencies (we’re not an emergency?). The student noted that she was breathing hard. She asked questions such as did she have a season, drinking excessive water, last season, etc. I gave them history of her December c-section. She took her temp which was 104.2, a sign of infection. She gave Mula water and left saying a vet would be in shortly.
Dr. B came in approx 10:00 pm and I asked why haven’t they done something yet since this is an emergency? He seemed annoyed that I would ask and I was told they have to examine her first and he felt she didn't seem that stressed. He palpitated and felt a large mass in the abdomen. He said it wasn't the uterus since it was in the center of her abdomen, whereas uterus would be to either side so he didn’t think it was pyometra . He said it could be an enlarged spleen or tumor, among other things. He wanted to do various blood work ups before doing an X-ray. I also explained how this seemed exactly like 2 other dogs that had pyometra and I strongly suspected that was what was going on and reiterated that I felt it was an emergency. I told him she did seem to be drinking a lot of water. He left and didn’t return until approx. 10:45 when he told me I could leave because it would be at least an hour and a half to 2 hours before they x-rayed her. I asked what was taking so long and was told there were other emergencies and since she is “stable” she could wait. I reminded them that pyometra IS an emergency, but they again said they had to evaluate her before they could determine what was wrong and ignored me. Since there seemed no other option, I told them I would be nearby at my daughter’s house for awhile and waiting for their call.
8/6/2009 12:56am When I still hadn’t heard anything, I called to see what was happening. Told nothing had been done yet. She was still waiting to be xrayed. Apparently some blood work had been done as they said she was “septic” but they didn’t seem too worried, even though I was. They said her blood count was normal, and she was resting quietly (when you’re very sick of course you will rest quietly). They said she didn’t seem to be in any distress though I felt she was quite distressed when we first arrived. They had her on fluids but not antibiotics.
8/6/2009 2:01am Returned home. I called because it had now been 3 hours and no call from Dr. B. Asked them to page the doctor as I wanted to know how she is doing. Tried again 2:05, 2:24, 2:38. Finally at 2:46 Dr. B returned my call. His excuse for not calling was other emergencies again and that I should consider “no news good news”. He said the X-ray showed a mass but it definitely wasn’t pyometra . He said he had a board certified radiologist come in to look at it and he said it wasn’t pyometra but there was something unusual about it. He still felt she could wait until morning for the ultrasound and surgery because she was “stable”. I asked when they planned to operate and what was next. Dr. Becker said she was resting comfortably and he there was no problem with waiting until morning since it probably was a tumor or something like that. He stated unequivocally again that the uterus was not involved. This left me confused as to what actually was involved, but he didn’t elaborate or explain. I was given the impression they would do surgery first thing in the morning. He said someone would call me at 8:00 am before they did an ultrasound & took her to surgery. He said they were giving her fluids (no antibiotics?) and her temperature is down a little.
8/6/2009 9:07am Dr. D, who the case was transferred to called. She told me they seemed to feel it might be a blockage, cancer, tumor, hematoma or something else. She kept asking if Mula ate toys (which she doesn’t) and things like that. I again related the story of our 2 other dogs with pyometra and the same symptoms and my fear this was going in that direction. I was also told the estimate had gone up a lot because they expected long aftercare and the cleaning out of the abdomen (which I was told they would do anyway, before so I’m not sure why the price went up so much except that they dawdled in getting her into surgery and the septic condition worsened). Instead of $3,500 it would now be $5,000 and possibly more. Another person was put on the line so I could approve this.
8/6/2009 11:21 am After ultrasound. Call from Dr. D saying from the ultrasound it appeared to be puss in the uterus that was leaking into her abdomen from a cyst or tumor. The way she explained it, it sounded like they may have done a biopsy on the “cyst” and found it to have bacteria. I told her if it’s puss in the uterus leaking out into the abdomen isn’t that a pyometra? She said, well, not really, the cyst could be cancerous, full of blood, some other things and wouldn’t know until they opened her up and did exploratory surgery. She explained the procedure whereby they would remove any masses and rinse out her abdomen with sterile water to dilute the infection. She did not mention spay. I again related the story of the 2 other dogs and asked she be put on long term, strong antibiotics as I didn’t want to lose Mulan the same way. I asked her what Mula’s chances were and she said fair to good because she is young and in good condition. I later learned from the medical reports she could have died at any time.
8/6/2009 12:40 (12:50 call got cut off and he called back) Call from Dr. G saying it WAS a type of pyometra, albeit a strange type, based on the bacteria level, ultrasound and that she was very septic. He said her blood count was normal, but bacteria was leaking through her whole body cavity so they needed to do exploratory surgery to remove the pyometra. He assured me he was very good at doing this type of surgery. I told him I was upset they took so long when I had told them I suspected pyometra from the beginning but he said they were unsure because it looked unusual so he didn’t want to cut her unless he was sure. He is the one that told me it’s a “closed pyometra”. He acted like a pyometra is no big deal as he’d done many of them. He also said he didn’t think it was affecting her kidneys, yet. He would be doing the surgery, rinsing her out (using technical terms) and had lots of experience since he worked in Europe where they have 2 pyometras a day and here they don’t have them that often because everyone spays their dog. He said another doctor that wanted to learn and a student would be sitting in on the surgery. He tried to make me feel better, but at this point I was very concerned and quite angry they had delayed so long. He made it sound like they were taking her into surgery right then which was apparently not the case.
I was never asked if she should be spayed or just what they were going to do, it was just assumed that’s the only thing they could do to save her life. I never specifically said “spay her”, but when He asked if spaying her was ok, and I said do “ whatever you have to do to save her life”.
Awaiting news of her surgery.
8/6/09 2:45 pm Got a Call from Dr. S's office asking for permission to release Mula’s records to MSU. By the time they called to get my permission and called MSU back, Mulan was in surgery.
Got a call from Dr. S at 3:25 asking if I knew why they wanted her records. I didn’t know. Dr. S said he would call them at 4:00 when surgery was expected to be over to see what they wanted. He asked if I knew who the surgeon was, I said Dr. G.
4:40 pm Call from Dr. G saying the reason for the pyometra was a 3x3 or 4x4 piece of gauze that was apparently left behind when Mula had her c-section in December by Dr. S. It was outside the uterus and the uterine tissue had grown to try and isolate it. He said it caused an inflamed area on the outside of the uterus near the entrance. He said he had the gauze and I told him to keep it, I want it. He said he would. He said that was definitely the cause of the pyometra . It wouldn’t have happened without the gauze. It was such an odd cyst, they cut the growth in open and discovered the gauze inside.
5:09 pm I then received an answering machine message from Dr. S admitting responsibility and offering to pay the damages including the MSU bill. He was concerned why they took out entire uterus since she is a show dog and went on about how much more valuable a show dog is than an average dog. He said they could have taken out just the damaged tissue. I was unaware this was even possible. He claimed I said to spay her, which I did not. Dr. S also questioned as I did, why they waited so long to do surgery. I called him back at 5:28 and we discussed this. Dr. G said it was a 4x4 piece of gauze and he told him he only used 3x3 gauze at which time Dr. Guiot said it could have been 3x3. We agreed that Dr. S was the only one to have ever opened Mula up so of course he HAD to have been the one to leave the gauze regardless of the size issue– there was no question or argument there. He said to send him the bills and his insurance will cover them, however, legal advice I received suggested I not take him up on his offer just then or it may be construed as an "agreement". (there was more value here than just medical bills since Mula is a show dog).
9:29 pm I called MSU and asked how Mulan is doing. The receptionist put me on hold and went to check. She said she was on pain meds and just waking up. I called back when I realized she had said nothing about antibiotics. She said she was on antibiotics without going to check again. Received blood chemistry reports and based on some of the levels I now realize how close she was to seizuring, having a stroke, or dying immediately. Certain levels indicative of this were sky-high.
8/7/2009 7:53 am Call from Dr. D, made arrangements to go see Mula and to ask questions.
8/7/2009 10:30am Went to see Mula. She was in a large kennel with blankets to lie on. Met Dr. D and the vet tech, who also showed dogs, who would be watching over her until her anticipated release. She was on IV antibiotics – Baytril (generic) and another, including pain meds. She was hooked up to a drain and IV in her juggler vein. They were monitoring bacteria levels based on fluid accumulating in the drain. We were also shown pictures of the abscess and it was huge (larger than her entire uterus) - about the size of a cantaloupe. Also it was located just past the base of where it divides they had no options but to spay her. They also said they have the gauze stored, and because it was stored in a controlled substance (formaldehyde or something like that) they were reluctant to give it to us as that kept it from deteriorating. I was mailed photos of the entire uterus and another showed the gauze embedded in the tissue. It was not easy to see the actual size of the gauze, but it was clearly there and embedded in the growth. It would be difficult to determine the size of the gauze due to how it was embedded. Mulan was shaved from one end to the other – probably 60% of her fur in various places. She was in good spirits.
8/8/2009 2:00 pm Visited Mula to check on her. Spoke to tech who was taking care of her. She seemed in good spirits and wanted to go home.
8/8/2009 8:57 pm Received call from Dr. D saying all is well. The bacteria they were treating, Staphocci was gone, just awaiting lab culture to make sure. Drainage had slowed considerably.
8/9/2009 9:14 am Dr. D called and said Mula was clear to go home. We would pick her up at 11:00.
8/10/2009 Called Records and asked for copies of the photos and surgical report. I also received the photographs of what they removed and the surgical report after repeated pestering. They wanted to know if I wanted it sliced into little pieces and checked (not sure why they want to do this) and I told them no, wait until I find out how Dr. S's insurance handles this. MSU was told to keep it available and intact. I was told they would do this. Dr. G had the growth with gauze in a jar on his desk, but it was apparently thrown out once they knew a lawsuit was being pursued - really glad I already had the photos.
Received another call from Dr. S - this time insisting that they should have pieced her back together. He also started threatening me and said I should not tell anyone or he would sue me for slander. He was concerned about gossip in the dog community he had heard that Mula had died (news to me!) and that he was retiring (more news!). He felt I started the rumors - which I did not. He said I needed to have my attorney contact them or I should give his insurance carrier a call. I had my Prepaid Legal attorney write a letter to his insurance carrier, but after weeks of no response, I attempted to call his insurance carrier myself.
9-30/2009 Dr. S's Insurance Attorney refused to speak to me, was rude and nasty claiming she'd only talk to an attorney and didn't have to talk to me. What a bitch!!! Could have been settled then, for MUCH less than he ultimately paid, but she flat out refused to even talk to me. I hired an attorney - and they avoided his calls and contact. He became quite frustrated with their stalling and refusing to return calls. Insurance companies count on this. They love the law the way it stands because they can stall, delay, intimidate and lie. Yes, lie. Dr. S himself admitted his negligence on the phone TWICE, and said it would be taken care of. Now he hides behind his insurance company and plays innocent like he doesn't know they aren't paying the claim. He is in denial even though there is ample evidence - photos, medical reports, even video that he did this. He's even called without warning to threaten and harass me, because he didn't like this web page and the truth being visible on the internet.
On 12/14/2009 another call from Dr. S. This time his threats were getting more severe and said "it could get complicated if there's a slander suit on top of everything". He again repeated that they should have pieced her back together and I better not say anything to anyone. He seemed more interested in threatening than settling anything at this point. I was warned at the onset by others, that he had done this before to others and has intimidated people into giving up. That only made me more determined to see this through. Again he brought up about the retiring & Mula died accusations which were apparently just gossip.
My attorney complained of his attorney that Ms. M is stalling and not returning phone calls. When my attorney was able to make contact, she would ask again and again for the SAME information which we had to provide over and over. (Can something be lost this much?)
After 28 months of no progress, in the spring of 2010 I Filed complaints with MVMA and Michigan's Veterinary Licensing Board. By fall, and STILL no progress, I put up this website.
About this time I discovered Dr. S is not a Diplomat of the College of Theriogenology so is not qualified to hold himself out as a reproduction specialist even though he promotes himself as a "reproduction specialist" in Michigan. In his response to my complaint, he admitted he is just a regular vet - yet still represents himself as a specialist through his web site, in person, and promoting semen collection at dog shows and in his office. He stores semen and does artificial insemination breedings. Because of the complaints, I began getting harassed by Attorney Ms. M & eventually Dr. S's own personal attorney Ms. B - stalling and obfuscating the truth (making a big deal out of the spay, tried to blame MSU, etc), demanding the same documents over and over again - even when they were provided. So I decided to put up this website and post reviews on Ripoffreport.com and other consumer sites around 11/2010 to tell the story. How legitimate veterinary malpractice is handled is a matter of concern to the public. People needed to know how shady veterinarians attempt to make you the victim twice...once when your dog is almost killed and again when you try and hold them accountable. In essence, I exercised my First Amendment right of free speech. (the Internet IS protected, never let them tell you otherwise)
My attorney SG made a fair initial offer and they refused. SG messed around with this for several months with no resolution to the point I began to really feel he was not working in my best interests any longer - I felt he'd been "bought off". Then they sent a terribly composed settlement agreement aka "gag order" (spelling errors such as "bread" instead of "bred" and ambiguous grammar) and suddenly even my own attorney tried to bully me into signing it. I wouldn't, it was so draconian and badly written. They demanded a "gag order" (speech & written) for a mere $7,500 (which didn't even cover my expenses) AND demanded he have control of my web site, that I remove everything from the Internet, not even speak to friends and family or puppy buyers about it. Better yet, it would have left me liable for his very expensive attorney's fees for defending (fixing?) the state licensing investigation. I said NO.
Dr. S's Insurance carrier is the 7th largest Insurance company in the U.S. and is mainly owned by Loews Corporation (a company that owns offshore oil and gas drilling, and major hotels) so I guess they can afford to intimidate a little guy. They were also recipients of some of that government bailout money...but apparently it's not so they can pay legitimate claims. The original gag order is here.
Did you know Dr. S is NOT certified to be a canine reproductive specialist? I didn't either, because he tells everyone he is.
In doing my research I discovered some new things - did you know that Dr. S (nor anyone at Dr. S Veterinary) is a Canine Reproduction Specialist as he so claims to dog breeders that walk in his office? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) it is unethical for veterinarians to identify themselves as members of a AVMA-recognized specialty if such certification has not been awarded. They must be either a Diplomat or certified by the College of Theriogenology and Dr. S is neither. He DID join a canine reproduction club which has a similar name...but it's just that - a club - it can't confer any kind of recognition recognized by the AVMA. He is nothing more than an average veterinarian with a big ego. He had no board certified credentials whatsoever. So he has perpetrated a fraud on the public - as most dog people were led to believe he has credentials by Dr. S himself. To make you think he has credentials, he's joined the SOCIETY for Theriogenology and puts lots of certificates on the wall.... but the society is essentially a club - like a Stamp Club or Fraternity. It bestows no more than being around people who like doing the same things. Personally I feel this is deceptive and misleading. Maybe he was hoping we wouldn't notice, or knowledge would somehow "rub off" on him without going through the rigorous testing required to be an actual reproduction specialist. Apparently it didn't rub off or he wouldn't have left a piece of gauze in Mulan during a simple c-section surgery!
By 11/12/2010 I was without an attorney and I was suddenly open season to receive threatening letters from Attorney Ms. B (Dr. S's personal attorney) on Nov. 12th, threatening to sue me for slander and arrest without basis demanding a retraction of this website. Not only were her tactics unethical, asking your client to commit a felony is illegal.
11/22/2010 I received a 2nd threatening letter stating I must accept the offer and give Dr. S full rights to my web page ...and this one takes the cake because it appears to be trying to smooth over the fact that the first letter was quite unethical for an attorney to send. Asking a client to file a false police report is a felony. They started back pedaling and being so kind and generous as to ALLOW me to keep my constitutional right to free speech and to ALLOW the state investigation to continue...how nice of them (like they had any choice!). I filed a complaint against her as these tactics were unethical, and she stopped threatening me. So I guess when you're unethical, you find unethical representation. They continued to demand that I sign the "gag order", saying I had agreed to sign, which I never had. My response to that letter is here.
12/12/2010 I responded (without an attorney) with a counter settlement offer. Their response demanded proof of $1,500 puppies, among other demands (such as show records, proof of health clearances, etc.) which I provided. Ms. M seems to think our puppies should be worth $200 - which is ludicrous - even rescue and puppymill Malamutes go for much more than that! Unfortunately, they still didn't get it. They continued to tell me I've agreed to their $7,500 "settlement"...I did???? Where did I sign???? Nooooo, I haven't agreed to ANYTHING. Then they throw in a draft of a lawsuit filing that makes all kinds of false statements and omissions. My favorite is how I supposedly gave Star steroids on my own and stopping them caused the seizures...no mention is made of how I called Dr. S at his home at 10:00 pm and he said use leftover human Predisone in spite of my apprehension.... Then, best of all, they demand that Dr. S can censor this page again when I settle for the amount they claim I agreed to.
Because the statute of limitations was coming up, on December 16, 2010 I filed the lawsuit in civil court against Dr. S pro se (on my own without a lawyer) after waiting 2 years for him to do the right thing and take care of this like a man. Instead he has weaseled and bluffed, threatened and harassed me. His attorney began an new round of foot dragging and for about the 3rd time, was demanding puppy contracts, pedigrees, and show wins...
I Finally, I was able to obtain an attorney to handle the court case. Unfortunately, just a month into the case, he died unexpectedly. I then contacted Mr. W and he has continued with the case since.
Next stall tactic was a Deposition and "Discovery"....that's where the opposing side tries to get information they can use against you in court. I really don't see a use for it and Dr. S wasn't depositioned, though he should have been.
Again Ms. M has taken foot dragging, dismissals, rescheduling, useless motions, requesting information she already has - multiple times, and confusing/ambiguous communication, and not answering or responding to phone or emails to an art form. No wonder attorneys don't want to take dog cases - this is all by design! After talking with various attorneys, I discovered this is common practice and one reason most will not represent you - even if they know you have a good solid case. It is meant to frustrate the victim and make them give up. I was NOT going to give up. A few of her assasine questions are below:
Some 'excerpts' from an email showing just how ignorant the insurance company investigators are about dogs (or is it feigned ignorance to stall and obfuscate since they've done this many many times before?) and how they try and twist the truth to make the victim the bad guy. (this was not encrypted, it went through thousands of servers and could be read by anyone - therefore is not "private" just in case you're wondering)
Ms. M: You advised that you would be sending proof of the dog's pedigree and what puppies from previous litters sold for. I will forward your demand to claims, but I suspect that they will have to reject it. If we were to pay all medical, the claim would be about $10K. As far as lost income is concerned, if the most generous estimates are used, I am not able to understand how you arrive at a number over $4,500. These dogs are only bread every other year and after 7 years of age, they are no longer bread...
They were provided the puppy contracts and pedigree. It was planned that we would breed (not BREAD which is a food item) Mulan at least a couple more times due to her outstanding temperament. Often malamutes are not bred every other YEAR, but every other SEASON - we don't do this, but it's very common. She is obviously confusing her terms. Jazzy had 11 puppies so it is totally conceivable Mulan might have that many in a future litter. Jazzy also had 8 puppies at 8 years of age because she was in good health. So health is the determining factor, not necessarily age. The average litter size is 6-8 in the Alaskan Malamute, depending on how closely line bred they are. Dogs can be bred, according to the AKC guidelines up to age 12. Obviously you might run into fertility issues before that, but Penny's mom Natasha was bred by her breeder at 9 years of age and produced 9 puppies, of which 7 lived -- which is quite a bit older than 7 years of age and they were all registered with the AKC.
Ms. M: There is no physical evidence of anything surgical left in the dog's uterus. Infection is a normal surgical risk that can occur absent malpractice.
Judge for yourself in the above photos. Do YOU see gauze? The MSU surgical vet Dr. Guiot saw gauze. They MUST be blind if they can’t see the gauze in the photographs or read a surgical report. If there is any doubt, the growth is in a jar at MSU preserved with formaldehyde. It is obvious to any lay person that she was not born with gauze in her uterus. It is not “alleged” – it happened and they need to admit it. The purpose of this page. I want justice for Mulan and to keep other dogs from being harmed.
Ms. M: Your client failed to take the dog to the vet when nearly a year passed with no menstruation. This is comparative negligence
Last time I looked, August is the 8th month in the year...and the c-section was Dec. 26th....so it wasn't a year. A dog is not going to have menstruation because it’s called a “heat” in dogs – menstruation is a human term because it happens monthly, not every 6-10 months like dogs…they are NOT humans and only ovulate with a heat season every 6-10 months…we took her to the vet when problems developed at 8 months, well within the time of the next expected heat….this person is obviously an idiot and can’t tell a dog from a human.
Ms. M: There is no evidence that other less extreme treatment options were attempted by the other vet as the standard of care requires. We would file a notice of non-party at fault, likely necessitating their addition.
The treatment was fully reasonable since it was done by MSU – a teaching hospital with top experts in the field of veterinary medicine. Are they saying Dr X who has made many mistakes including leaving gauze in a dog during surgery is more knowledgeable than MSU? There are no less extreme options when someone leaves gauze inside and she becomes septic. The infected tissue had to be removed and the infection removed from the rest of the body cavity. Anything less would have killed her. Star died seizuring because of similar "less extreme treatment options" done by Dr. S..
Ms. M: Your client has a duty to mitigate.
This client did mitigate. What else could be done? There was no reason to take her in to the veterinary hospital as she showed no outward symptoms until the infection escaped the mass that enclosed it. She was at a vet office in February for a routine exam and rabies shot and they saw no symptoms or signs of infection at that time. If they are referring to patching her back together with infected uterine tissue - that is totally unacceptable. I suppose they would have preferred her to be dead, as it would have been cleaner – no pesky breeder upset about losing the ability to have puppies from their beautiful show dog. I think it’s pretty sick that a veterinarian would prefer the dog DEAD so his insurance didn't have to pay out as much.
Ms. M: As I understand, the dog is still alive, but can no longer have puppies. She was 4 years old at the time, so one (1) more litter was expected. I need to know what the puppies from the previous litter sold for so we can consider that as a measure of damages. You can establish this by sending me copies of the puppy sale contracts, which I'm sure your client would keep to enforce sterilization agreements. If Ms. O'Malley purchased another female dog to bread, please provide me with that contract so we can consider all expenses.
Again, her information is faulty regarding how often a dog is bred - that is a purely individual decision based on the breeding program and dog. I did not purchase another dog mainly because our lines are unique and this would not be helpful to our breeding program. This is an idiotic argument anyway since every dog’s genetics is unique and due to Dr. S leaving the gauze in her, we are no longer able to breed Mulan for those genetics. Again, another stall tactic asking for information they already have been provided. You managed to wiggle out of paying for even ONE more litter of 3 puppies....so why did you even ask?
Ms. M: In that correspondence, I indicated that I need documents to submit to my claims handler. I have the vet records from Michigan State, but I do not have their bills. Although my previous e-mail mentions all medical costing around $10K, this was based on our conversation rather than any proof that I can submit to claims. I need copies of any bills that she wants paid. I need all bills that she claims are related.
The attorney supplied them with all medical bills and documentation. This is apparently a stall tactic - keep asking for things you already have, delaying long enough in the hope we'll go away or statue of limitations will run out. There is no statue of limitations on veterinary malpractice only because it is not addressed at all in the Michigan Dog Law of 1919...human statute of limitations is 2 years - their plan is apparently to drag it out as long as possible.
Ms. M: If you are claiming emotional damages or pain and suffering, these will not be considered since Michigan law clearly does not provide for this even in the case of the death of an animal. Also, it appears that your client has been harassing Dr. S and spreading rumors intended to damage his reputation. As a result, legal action against Ms. O'Malley has been discussed. I don't know the extent of the damage or whether it can be remedied. I would not be representing Dr. S in any claim against your client, but under the circumstances, her continued harassment of Dr. S seems to be alienating the people who need to be sympathetic if any successful resolution is to occur without further legal expenses.
Actually, Dr. S has been the one spreading rumors, not myself. What will damage his reputation is that he left gauze in a dog during a c-section (a common operation - especially for a "reproduction specialist" as he calls himself).
These questions were from Ms. M, CNA's legal counsel on Dr. S's behalf.
On 2/9/2012 there was a case evaluation summary. This consists of 3 lawyers (NONE of whom are experienced in dog matters) who listen to attorney's for both sides and determine what they think the case is worth. Basically, since no case has gotten this far due to the insurance company's expertise at foot dragging and manipulating the system, I really had no expectations it would be reasonable. And it wasn't. It did not address my actual damages (Mula's ability to produce puppies, to represent our Kennel at shows, the fraud perpetrated by Dr. S regarding his credentials, the malpractice, or the damages and vet bills) and addressed about 1/2 of the veterinary bill incurred - not including attorney fees. And I was correct it was completely geared in favor of Dr. S since the 1919 dog laws were written with veterinarians, farmers and other professionals in mind. They do not address the intrinsic value or worth of a family pet - even a very expensive and valuable one. Therefore, I decided to once again take the option of going to court to address my concerns with the value of Mulan as a show dog and loss as a brood bitch. The loss of genetics and income from puppies, and accumulating interest, court fees, and of course veterinary bills incurred needed to be addressed.
The first trial was scheduled for the summer of 2012, then was delayed to late summer then fall 2012 which would have been difficult for me to go. We had since moved 500 miles away and had newborn puppies on the ground. While his attorneys could delay for the minutest of reasons, I wasn't given that option. I had newborn puppies on the ground that might DIE because I was absent, yet I was required to appear in court (due to distance a minimum of a 2 1/2 week event -the pretrial scheduled a week apart from the trial). When I was told by Dr. S's attorney they would not allow rescheduling (because he apparently did not CARE that puppies might die). Reluctantly, I agreed to try negotiation. Once again, they brought forth the SAME completely unfair document that infringed on my first amendment rights, foot dragged, stalled and were unavailable (but expected me to hop to it). We negotiated for quite some time (months) to get it acceptable to both parties whereby I signed it, somewhat under duress (because I was burning out). But Dr. S, like most terrorists, violated it before the ink was dry.
He refused to sign even though it was massively in his favor, and almost immediately libeled me on Ripoff report saying I had no health clearances on my dogs (which was untrue). My attorney filed an Order to Show cause to stop the foot dragging, and the judge gave Dr. S until the the next Wednesday to sign. He still didn't. He wanted me to remove all mention of his name on the entire Internet (as if that were possible) and remove the critique on RipOff Report. (which I couldn't do even if I wanted to). I waited an extra week and he still didn't sign (but expected me to clean up the internet!) so I retracted my signature because on further thought, I realized this document was not in my best interest to have signed anyway.
By now I am getting tired of Dr. Schutz's personal agenda to silence me after libeling me on Ripoff report. At this point I had decided I will not remove my web site or anything off the Internet because the public needs to be made aware of the underhanded tactics insurance companies and veterinarians pull when they screw up. It was off the table for good. If Dr. S tries to wiggle out of the Mediation agreement, I won't even remove his name since it's improper and a conflict of interest for the Insurance company to humor him in this regard when it's not even something that should be part of the negotiation. I've tried to be reasonable at every turn, and was met with unreasonableness. Dr. S and his attorneys seemed to forget I was the one damaged here by his sloppy and negligent race to do a fast c-section on my valuable show dog. So....just when I think we are going to trial AGAIN...they postponed it AGAIN - this time fall of 2013.
The court orders a "mediation" mainly because they can't believe it's dragged on this long and frankly, they don't want to deal with it - it's a DOG case. A Mediation consists of an experienced attorney that essentially guilts each party into making concessions and attempts to get them to come to an agreement. He uses all his experience to try and get you to think trial is not the best thing for you. The real kicker is should I lose in court, they will again victimize the victim. I am told would be required to pay ALL his attorney's fees - including those he used to get back his license - even though it's quite obvious who the victim is here. Since many thousands were paid to attorneys to fix the licensing complaint in his favor, I would again be victimized by paying HIS attorney bills. I think even a simple minded person can see this is just not right. Victimizing the victim TWICE.
Even requesting a jury trial isn't safe as the judge (who may not even like dogs) can override the jury's award and verdict. And again, the law is stacked in favor of the "professional" - not the pet owner. Once again the veterinarian has the upper hand because he is a peer with the "mediator" (both are professionally licensed and may even be friends!). Meanwhile, all the expenses incurred - thousands again - is again shared by the victim to go to mediation.
Mediation - a JOKE.
Mediation is just another excuse for the system to wring money out of the innocent victim and plaintiff. We went through mediation back in January of 2013 - we reached an agreement. I was bullied by the mediator into accepting a settlement much lower than I should have, but I foolishly thought at least this will get it done. But Dr. S STILL hasn't paid anything 7 months later! First, probably as another stall tactic, Dr. S's attorney drafts up a final agreement - which is basically the OLD agreement I would not agree to sign before mediation (the one wanting me to "fix" the Internet!)!!!! Of course I'm not going to sign that - that was the whole purpose of going to mediation in the first place. Then they send a check to my attorney who has it in escrow - somehow thinking I'll just sign. Not until there is an agreement that reflects what was agreed to in Mediation..... So the check sits...and sits...meanwhile Dr. S's attorney goes on maternity leave, has her kid, finally returns...and it still sits.. I have my attorney draft up an agreement that basically says we agree what was agreed in mediation. And he won't sign that. You sign it first, I hear. So I do, knowing he will then drag his feet as long as possible AGAIN before signing it. It's just a game with them. Meanwhile, the court is gearing up for the trial because this is still not resolved. Pretrial is in July....<pounds head on table>
Well, we finally have closure. Dr. S signed the Mediation agreement days after I updated this site, and with the pretrial looming that would have brought forth evidence of his stalling and landed him in contempt of court, and possibly JAIL. I'm glad it's over...but it's not. There are a LOT of other dogs, without nearly the clear cut case we had that are being abused by their veterinarians when they ask to be reimbursed for the damage caused. There is legislation pending in Michigan at this moment - Logan's Law that will improve the 1919 dog laws and bring some abusers to injustice...however, did you know Veterinarians have exempted themselves from being responsible AGAIN?
Why this is not just about vet bills - a story.
The law is not fair and here's why....if you have a widget machine and someone destroys it, you can be compensated for many things that affect your business including a fair price for the value of your "equipment" - but if it's your expensive, rare pedigreed dog that's a different story. While the law acknowledges the situations are quite similar - the dog is treated as less valuable than a hunk of steel!
You have a Factory with an expensive, custom widget making machine - the Mulan. You make widgets no one else can produce that are unique in your industry, there is a long waiting list for them. You call in a specialist to do a routine maintenance repair, and then discover he has destroyed a rare, irreplaceable part from negligence. In desperation, you call in a team of repair people to attempt to save the machine...however it never works properly after that thanks to what the first so-called "specialist" did. It is essentially useless to your business now because you can no longer promote to your customers this a one-of-a-kind, state of the art, rare widget made by the machine because it's broken and can no longer produce them. Because it's such a specialized machine, it's impossible to find another of comparable quality that can build your unique $1,500 widgets, so your business suffers huge losses. You have lost the price of the machine, the widgets it could have produced, the repair bills, lost profits and credibility because customers were waiting for that specific widget and you couldn't deliver. Not only has this "specialist" damaged your invaluable machine, but has damaged your reputation and business. You make an attempt to find another widget machine, but discover there are none even close in quality and even if you build it yourself (puppy) with purchased parts, it will never be as good.
This isn't Dr. S's only mistake....it becomes a habit when there are no repercussions.
You might ask why am I pursuing this so doggedly if it's been such a pain in the butt....well, here's why:
In 2004 Dr. S of his clinic of the same name performed a pyometra surgery on another of our dogs, Star. It was discovered she had multiple cysts on her ovaries. Later she developed bacterial meningitis because she was not given proper antibiotics when sent home. On top of this, when it worsened, Dr. S, in his arrogance first gave her less effective antibiotics, then gave steroids to mask the symptoms. Steroids are used for for viral meningitis, NOT bacterial meningitis. Steroids will mask the symptoms of a bacterial meningitis and allow it to become worse. When confronted with the fact the bacteria may have come from the pyometra surgery, he said, arrogantly, he felt that he couldn't have caused this therefore it must be viral. Star died, violently seizuring and in great pain in a strange veterinary office. Dr. S's administration of the steroids hid symptoms and delayed administration of the proper diagnosis and antibiotics. Looking back at what I know about the law now, I wonder if it was intentional. You cannot sue for malpractice if the dog dies thanks to the 1919 dog law. How do we know that vets that know they screwed up, and can't fix the problem, do not hasten the dog's death to keep from being sued? We don't.
Because Dr. S held himself out to be a reproductive vet, we sought his opinion on the status of two males having testicles descended. He assured us they were there. Neither male produced 2 testicles upon adulthood. A male without 2 testicles cannot be shown so this also has caused damage to our breeding program. We kept males we wouldn't’ have otherwise, based on his advice and “expertise”.
On two occasions (approximate 2006/2007) we sought Dr. S's expertise to do artificial inseminations of a bitch we wished to breed. He collected sperm from the male and it was noted that the male’s sperm was abundant and viable. However, the bitch did not conceive likely due to inadequate technique. We were charged thousands for this service that did not produce any offspring as promised. (He told us he was the most experienced and best at obtaining results in this area and again, and claims to be an expert in canine reproductive techniques). No testing was suggested or done on the bitch to see if she was fertile. In hindsight, this probably should have been done first. But he gladly took our money.
The Medical Report...
Don't forget to visit RipOff Report for important details (like a name).
(some documents require Adobe PDF Reader to view)
Photo Courtesy of MSU Veterinary Clinic
The gauze embedded in a growth that her body grew to try to protect her life. It was the size of a cantaloupe and was growing very close to her spine and vital organs. Can you see the gauze there in the middle?
Photo courtesy of MSU Veterinary Clinic
While the growth was at the entrance of the uterus...X Veterinary felt that they should have pieced her back together, regardless of whether it would have killed her or not. Staphylococci was everywhere.
Blood work & ultrasound report upon admission for the infection
Surgical Report noting that a piece of gauze was found
MSU Surgery medical bill (does not include follow up care or other incidentals)
"Release" (Gag Order) they wanted me to sign so they would pay PART of the medical bills. They want me to sign away my constitutional right to free speech, and rights to tell licensing and regulatory bodies of this negligence, as well as a gag order preventing me from telling anyone (such as YOU) this happened. Don't think so! View it here. They want this web site REMOVED so no one will know! Even better - it would leave me open to a lawsuit that would require me to pay Dr. S's attorney fees for fighting the State of Michigan Licensing complaint! I've since been offered the SAME settlement, plus attorney's fees this time, and an even more restrictive gag order. What part of "freedom of speech" do they not get? The way this document is written has no protections for me, no admission of error by the doctor, and is completely one-sided - their side. I'm supposed to sign that for barely covered cover medical bills almost FOUR years later? We finally came to an agreement - gag orders seem to be just too prolific to be able to come to any kind of a settlement without them. In exchange for the final settlement, I offered to remove his name from this site (though it's all over the internet and on Google anyway, because he waited so long and dragged this out for years - just do a search). If he was so worried about it being out there, why didn't he settle immediately - instead of stalling and forcing me to put this up. I would have never needed to put up a web site or file a complaint had Dr. S acted like a responsible adult.
Video of Surgery (note that there is no one assisting which is considered poor surgical practice). Other vets we have used typically have at least 3 assistants in surgery (anesthesiologist, a nurse to count gauze & hand instruments, one or more to attend to newborn puppies). He even bragged afterwards to my husband that he did it in under two minutes....if you leave gauze behind because you were hurrying and not using proper procedure, what's to brag about?
The race is on....trying to beat his personal best time doing a c-section surgery - the above video is short only because the surgery was rushed and I took a few photos too.
Letter to the MVMA regarding Dr. S's negligence - nothing came of this apparently due to the protection of cronies in the MVMA. It's nice to know that the MVMA looks out more for its veterinarians than the patients.
The Better Business Bureau was equally useless.
A similar letter went to the Michigan State Licensing Board. Here is the original complaint submitted. If you have enough money, you can buy your license back with lawyers...it was dismissed for lack of evidence?!? (all of the above and more was submitted!)...what evidence do YOU see? Looks more to me like somebody got paid off. Dr. S spent thousands getting the complaint overturned and his license back...too bad he did not give the dog he almost killed and her family the same courtesy and compensation.
I filed the Lawsuit Pro Se (meaning without an attorney) before the statute of limitations ran out...I gave him THAT LONG to try and make it right. 2 years.
About Mulan - Her Show Career
A few nice show wins as she matured:
Her unique and very nice pedigree...is this a dog worth $200? (especially when her puppies sell as PETS for $1,500?)
She was a good working dog too...
The reason for this page is that this can happen to ANYONE. It doesn't have to be a show dog...It doesn't have to be a c-section - it can be any kind of veterinary procedure or surgery and you are at the mercy of arrogant veterinarians and insurance companies and the antiquated 1919 Michigan Dog Law. I was just very fortunate the staff at MSU was competent and Mulan survived. I can't imagine dealing with this had my dog died...it would hurt tremendously to be dug up over and over in this ongoing battle with unfeeling insurance companies and a negligent veterinarian. Because after all...in their eyes...it's ONLY a dog...