A Warning to Pet Owners in the Philippines

– specifically to pet owners in Balanga City, Bataan.

Be aware of the veterinarians that will handle your pet.

( September 18, 2012 update at end of post )

I will relate three short stories, two of which are heartbreaking ones that ended with the death of my cats:

1. This happened years ago when I was in highschool? Or early college: I had a young cat named Keiyon who suddenly started to act weird, isolating himself from his siblings. Eventually he stopped eating and on the same day that he did that, I took him to a vet clinic in Balanga City, the only one aside from the public vet office at that time. The vet injected him with something and said he would be fine; I asked which drug but the vet brushed me off and being the kid that I was, I trusted the vet. I took him home, he began to convulse and he died in my arms while I was crying and saying ” sorry, I’m sorry “. I still purchase pet supplies from that clinic but I never take any of my pets, sick or not, to that clinic ever again.

2. This happened recently, maybe two or three years ago: my cat Ermine had a gash on his stomach. He ran off the previous day after biting my left hand; he came back very late the following day. Odd at it may sound, Ermine seemed very apologetic for what he did to me. He did not look ill or in pain due to the wound, he could have fought us off but he didn’t, he let us put him in the cage so that we could take him to the vet. We went to the public vet office but the vets refused to attend to Ermine because it was almost 5:00 p.m. – TIME TO GO HOME. Obviously, they care more about going home than attending to a wounded animal. Can you imagine if that was a doctor and you brought in a man with a gash on his stomach, but he says “ oops my shift’s over tee hee wait for 8am tomorrow ‘coz we close up at 5! ” ? We looked for another vet clinic and, by luck or grace, we found one that was still open.

For the record, when I told someone at work that my cat bit me, she commented jokingly: “ You should have killed the cat! He bit you! ” – I almost cried because of anger when she said that. What kind of sick person would joke like that when your co-worker obviously cares about her pet?

Thankfully, Ermine is alive and well to this day, almost seven human years old. If only I can speak to the vet who operated on Ermine, I would thank him repeatedly; that vet is in Canada now, or so I’ve heard.

3. This happened in September 2011: Long story short, I took my very healthy mix-breed cat Coal to a local vet to get spayed. After a week at the vet’s clinic , I took her home and she died while I was at work (my sister was taking care of the cat).

The one thing that irked me the most is that the (I really want to use an expletive now) vet kept ‘suggesting’ that we MURDER her. Well the other terms are “put down” and “euthanasia” but to me, it is the same as murder. My cat had the signs of tetanus which can be treated if caught early along with a lot of care and relaxation, which would include taking her home, a place where she would feel at ease as opposed to the vet clinic where there were barking dogs. But the vet kept saying “we really should put her down”. YOU SICK FUCK! MY CAT WAS ABSOLUTELY HEALTHY WHEN I TOOK HER TO YOUR CLINIC! I EVEN ASKED YOU REPEATEDLY IF YOU HAD THE CAPABILITY TO SPAY HER AND YOU SAID YES! YOU EVEN BRAGGED ABOUT THE OPERATION THAT YOU DID ON ANOTHER FEMALE CAT- AND NOW THAT EVERYTHING HAS GONE HORRIBLY WRONG YOU WANT TO FUCKING END HER LIFE?! I ASKED WHAT MEDICINE YOU WERE USING ON HER BUT YOU JUST SAID THAT YOU’LL CHANGE IT UP IF HER REACTIONS WERE BAD! YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS WHEN COAL STARTED TO BECOME SICK!

For the record, Coal actually began to respond to us when we got home. She even began to drink water; during her last day at the vet’s, she was not fed or given water, merely nourished using medicine via a tube on her arm. I was hopeful when I left for work, but Coal died about two hours later.

Weeks after that, a vet friend of ours (he doesn’t perform surgery on cats and dogs because he honestly admits that he does not have enough experience for that) said that those signs that resemble tetanus could also be an allergic reaction, and that the vet should have stopped giving medication so that the cat could get the previous dose out of her system. I do not want my dead cat to be cut up (autopsy) so I decided not to sue the Coal-killer vet. All of my deceased pets are buried in my grandma’s yard (she buries her deceased pets there too, we don’t throw our ‘family members’ away).

I visited Coal once when she was at the vet’s  and she seemed fine, even greeted me happily; my mom and my sis visited her the other days. We were all absolutely shocked that this happened; I am still buying pet supplies there but I am not going to bring any of my pets to that clinic, not even for annual shots. Our vet friend gives our pets their annual shots now. He patiently explains what medicine he’s going to give, the possible outcomes including when the meds should show results and its side effects, and if there are any illnesses to watch out for (i.e. if any cats or dogs have been getting sick lately and the reason).

I won’t name vets #1 and #3. I did not accuse them of malpractice, even #3, but knowing these people I’d expect that they won’t have any second thoughts on suing me for libel because all they seem to care about is money.

As for #2, I pay taxes and I have been paying taxes for years, including that year when my cat was injured. I expected you to do your job but hey, I guess your responsibility to taxpayers ends at 5pm. Oh well.

My advice to pet owners in the Philippines:

Your responsibility to your pet does not end with just feeding and petting it. Like a human being, an animal needs proper health care. If you really love your pet, look for a reliable veterinarian. Don’t trust a veterinarian who won’t tell you what he’s doing with your pet. This is a general rule even for human doctors. Don’t let doctors or vets use medicine on you or your pets, not unless they tell you what it is for, what the possible side effects are and if there is an option. Some vets think we are idiots that’s why they don’t tell us what they’re giving to our pets, but some are just used to not being asked. Be polite when asking questions and be reasonable, don’t act like a nosy brat, just ask simple things like ” what is that for? does it have side effects? is there an option? ” If the vet easily becomes agitated when questioned politely, or gets angry at you or your pet for expected reactions such as a cat jumping away because it is scared- leave. Leave quickly and never come back. There are better vets out there.

My late guinea pig Hare had to be treated at Vets in Practice Animal Hospital, Mandaluyong which is about 4 hours away from our home. His illness progressed quickly and after some days in intensive care, he did not make it. His bill ran up to about 3000 pesos excluding the cost of getting him there and previous vet bills when I took him there for check-ups. If you know that you cannot afford to give up money, time and effort, put the animal up for adoption and do not get a pet until you are capable of taking care of another living creature. That’s the harsh truth but it is the truth. If your father, mother, brother or sister got sick, would you just leave them in the bed to die and go “oh that’s so sad but I don’t have any money” ?

An animal is another living being; its life is as precious as ours. When you took in a pet, you should have known your responsibilities.

Ignorance is not an excuse.

Update 09/18/2012: This is a neighbor’s story that my mother related to me regarding Vet #3. We’re not close to our neighbor and they are not talkative, but they know that we have pets so they asked my mother if she knew a good vet. My mom recommended a friend of ours who is now our pets’ vet. Why did our neighbor as for a “good vet”? Because they had been to Vet #3 and they were put off by his attitude. The neighbor said that the vet, while talking to them about the vaccines that he could give to their new dog, said “You know I have so many customers whose dogs die, and they even cry so much just because of one dead dog.” Now I really understand. That vet cannot relate to the pain of losing a pet, so he acts that way. I’m not surprised. When my cat died, or rather WAS KILLED, he was so indifferent about it as if my cat was just some thing that could be thrown away, as if it was not a life worth saving.

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