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Hard to bet on an emergency vet

Lynda Field

Dear Editor,

At approximately 6:30 this morning I discovered my horse with a suspected broken leg. He was 25 years old and has been in our family for almost 20 years. As soon as I saw his leg I immediately started calling every veterinarian listing in our phone book. We live in Rifle. Recordings giving emergency numbers answered all the phones. We left messages on each phone as well as the emergency phone recordings. We went through this routine about three times trying to get an answer.

We received no phone calls until a Doctor Hamilton of Rifle called us back at 8:30 a.m. At the time of this phone call he could have been at our house within 15 minutes. My daughter answered the phone and spoke to him. His first question was not about the horse or what he could do to help, but whom else had we called. He repeatedly asked my daughter if she had called this vet or that vet. Twice she told him that we had called every vet listed and left messages more than once. He then asked why we called him. She explained we had been trying for two hours to get help to our horse and just wanted a vet. He took the directions and said he would be there. As he was taking directions one of the phones kept cutting in and out making my daughter have to repeat her directions causing him to seemingly become aggravated. As my daughter was hanging up the phone she said, “He is an A-hole.” He heard and called me back. He still never asked if the horse was OK but proceeded to tell me “if your attitude is anything like your daughter’s, I don’t think I should come out there.” I tried to tell him I just wanted help for my horse, but he refused to come.

At that point, my other daughter called back because she could not believe he would let the horse suffer. She ended up speaking to Doctor Hamilton’s partner, Karen Boland. She tried to explain that we were all upset and her sister was upset over the questions asked over and over by Doctor Hamilton. She was upset because he didn’t seem to want to come help. He did tell us he had a busy day lined up. The partner told my daughter we should take responsibility for his not coming. After she explained about him getting aggravated about the phones, the partner said, “He is hard of hearing, you know.”

Finally around 9 a.m. a veterinarian from Glenwood Veterinary Clinic did show up. This doctor had been on another emergency and came as soon as he could. The horse’s leg was shattered and he had to be put down. We feel had we had responses sooner our horse would not have had to suffer for so long. We don’t have any idea the previous night when this happened.

We understand other emergencies happen causing a wait, but we believe to be a veterinarian you need to love animals and would never allow one to suffer as our horse did this morning.

Our question is, how do you get a call back from veterinarians? In emergencies, how do we keep our pets from suffering? We could even have accepted a call saying all vets in this area were at other emergencies and would get back to us, but we didn’t. One person did call us back to tell us we dialed the wrong number and he was no vet. The only live person we spoke to told us she would have someone call us back by 11 a.m. This was at 9 a.m.

This same thing happened to us two years ago when our family dog’s heart started failing one night. As we sat with him watching him suffer, struggle and moan for three hours, we were trying to get a veterinarian to come help. Both of the times, it was Glenwood Veterinary Clinic office that responded. Each time they told us it took so long because of other emergencies. That we can take.

It is 4:30 p.m. as I write this and still no other vet has called us back. We will all certainly be taking our pets now to Glenwood Veterinary Clinic instead of the office we all currently use. That doctor has not called us back either.

Lynda Field

Rifle


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