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Old 07-28-2012, 01:36 AM
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StephyMei1112 StephyMei1112 is offline
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Default One's sickness for another's life? - thoughts welcome and appreciated

Ok, not too long ago this happened to a friend of mine; Owner of a 2 year old Viszla female.

Let's call the three main characters in this story Angela (my friend), Kelly (her friend), and Lara (A dog rescuer). (Not their real names or anything close to them btw).

Ok. Angela gets a call one day from Kelly saying that her friend Lara whom runs a dog rescue that pulls dogs from high kill shelters in California/Vegas has a pom mix that is in desperate need of a foster apon arriving into town the next evening and could she possibly foster the dog for a few days?. Angela has a soft spot for the dog hearing that it was from a high kill shelter and all and agrees; her Viszla Ruby is extremely sociable and loves other dogs - but she asks if the shelter dog had received any sort of medical attention prior to leaving the shelter and if it had anything contagious.

Kelly gives Angela Lara's number and tells her to sort it out with Lara directly. Angela calls Lara, makes an introduction of herself and that she's Kelly's friend bla bla bla bla bla. Lara states the dog is coming directly from the shelter but has had vet attention and should be free of any illnesses or anything contagious - so it would be safe to foster the dog and have her own Viszla play with/say hello to the dog while it was at her place. Angela thinks everything checks out and agrees - they agree on having the dog with her for about 3 days.

After a few "technical" issues and timing errors, a somewhat irritated Angela finally receives the dog at her place dropped off by Lara. He's underweight, smells of urine but is a cutie pie and highly clingy/affectionate. He does not seem sick until....he started coughing rather alot later into the evening and abit of snot started running from his nose. Angela notices this in the middle of the night and texts me - I advise her to perhaps crate him or put him in a separate room that Ruby can't get into for the night and have Lara pick him up the next morning to be taken to the vet's and only returned apon confirmation from the vet that he is NOT contagious - either that or keep him and Ruby completely separate for the whole remainder of however long he's to be fostered for. She crates him and keeps him downstairs and Ruby sleeps in her usual spot on the second floor - they don't have contact with one another again. They had a brief play and sniff and greet earlier in the evening she said.

OK - she calls Lara up the next morning and tells her what is going on - Lara asks Angela to take the dog to the vet the rescue organization uses HERSELF - 30 minutes across town from where she lives (and on a work day too...). Angela is pi$sed at this point and says the dog will be picked up by someone else for vet attention NOW - Lara sends another friend of her's to pick the dog up. Dog is picked up - and Angela is informed by a text of Lara's that the dog is extremely sick with pneumonia which is in it's starting stage and will have to be quarantined with a vet tech till he's confirmed ok. Angela's attitude at this point is "good riddance" and gets on with her life.

Few days later...Ruby starts throwing up something awful, scratching at things she didn't scratch at before, having labored breathing, and is REALLY lethargic and even seems to have problems keeping her eyes open. She is rushed to Angela's own vet and is diagnosed with parasites and a viral infection - luckily it is a problem that is easily resolved on a round of antibiotics and plain food. Angela tells the vet about the foster and the vet says it is highly probable it came from the foster dog.

Angela is fuming mad and calls up Lara in a hissy fit yelling and saying she wants to be reimbursed $500 for Ruby's vet bill. She accuses Lara of withholding information for sake of a emergency foster that the dog could have indeed have had something infectious. Lara's response is rather self pitying saying how she gives up all her income to fund the dog rescue, how she's been doing so much time and energy wise for it etc etc. Angela says she will file a complaint with the SPCA, in local dog circles, and to the media about what happened if she is not immediately reimbursed $500 - she says she will pass over a copy of the bill to Kelly and ends the conversation.

Lara says she can't come up with that amount in a few days time and says she will be able to do $100 per month but that it means alot less funding for other needy dogs, less resources for rescue operations etc etc. Angela doesn't care and says she expects her first $100 at the end of the following week.

Lara tells her apon first payment that the dog has found a new home now with 3 young kids, a lab, and very loving parents and his name is Harley; and that he's very very happy and he's made alot of others happy. Angela replies: "That filthy little runt made my purebred dog sick to her stomach! She's still mending now! I am NOT willing to sacrifice my dog's health for another's welfare! especially a pound mutt!"

So that leads me to the point of this topic...what's your opinion of what happened as I've laid out? what would your reaction or feelings be if you were in Angela's shoes? and would you sacrifice your dogs health for the well being of another? like, not someone you know's dog - a completely strange, unknown, mutt from some back alley way or a shelter.

Personally I think there was error on both parts - Angela should have been abit warier of the situation, the foster, the condition of the dog etc and demanded to meet the dog first and get some vet certified papers for him before letting him into her place if she was concerned about something contagious. Lara should have been more informative about the possible condition of these dogs and should have revealed that there was a possibility that it might in fact be ill with something upon arrival.

As my friend - of course I support Angela and feel she is correct to claim the $500 she paid for the vet bill. She had a right to be angry I feel and absolutely had no error in saying that her OWN dog's health was her first and foremost priority over all else. Ruby still has a touch of cough - but is otherwise back to her Viszla self - running, running, running, and more running.

Thanks for reading and your thoughts!
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:50 AM
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ehh, I don't think anybody is really in the wrong or the right.

Angela knew said dog was pulled from a high kill shelter. She should have been prepared knowing that, and either not let her viszla interact with the shelter dog -- especially seeing the condition he came in -- or saying no to fostering.

If Lara did know something was actually wrong, it's wrong of her to withhold that information. But it's very possible that she legitimately didn't know. It's very possible that the dog had seen the vet, and the vet didn't catch anything wrong with the dog. I know that much from experience with a rehome of my own.

If the foster dog didn't have parasites.. I don't see how Angela's dog got parasites from it. Unless the dog stays in the house all the time, and Angela stays in the house all the time/her shoes NEVER go in her house or where the dog is, the dog very well could get parasites from anywhere.

Honestly, I don't think Angela has any right to demand the vet bill be paid. I could see if she asked if it was helped with, but all of it? SHE let her dog meet the foster, who came in in a less than stellar situation, SHE took in a foster knowing it was coming from a high kill shelter. Nobody forced her to, she did it. She needs to take responsibility for that decision.

I couldn't imagine expecting the rescue to pay my pet's vet bills because I let them meet the (in my case) foster ferret and they got something from it. I made that decision to let them meet.

Sounds like Kelly is taking a whole lotta blame for something that she just got stuck in the middle of
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Old 07-28-2012, 04:09 AM
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She said that when the dog arrived it looked fine - coughing and snot started well after she met him and took him in. I agree though she should have been abit more aware/conscious of what she was doing.

She was just livid about Ruby getting sick though for "nothing" - and she genuinely did feel that Lara lied to her just to get the dog an emergency foster. She's been really angry about it so I don't know how accurate that would be given the circumstances...but if that was indeed the case...I would be wanting a good chunk of my vet bill back as well. As she was responsible for everything but it was deception on the part of the dog rescue if that was the case.

Kelly was frozen out for a week or so - but things are fine now. Angela isn't a huge huge dog person - she likes her dog and helping out with donations and things like that to SPCA etc - and she is kind of a purebred "snob"; which added to the animosity towards having her dog get sick for the sake of a pound dog. I don't really agree with that part - all dogs have the right to live and be treated civilly and if you don't like mutts - perfectly fine. Don't agree to foster or get directly involved with them if it bothers you so much.
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Old 07-28-2012, 05:37 AM
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Since Angela is your friend, I'll keep most of my thoughts to myself.

Asking the rescue to cover the vet bill is, in my opinion, appalling. She said the dog looked fine coming in - how in the world was a vet/rescue supposed to know it would get sick soon? Any dog could be harboring an illness that just hasn't revealed itself yet.
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Old 07-28-2012, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by BostonBanker View Post
Since Angela is your friend, I'll keep most of my thoughts to myself.

Asking the rescue to cover the vet bill is, in my opinion, appalling. She said the dog looked fine coming in - how in the world was a vet/rescue supposed to know it would get sick soon? Any dog could be harboring an illness that just hasn't revealed itself yet.
^All of this.
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BostonBanker View Post
Since Angela is your friend, I'll keep most of my thoughts to myself.
Agreed completely. Although since Angela isn't MY friend, though, here's what I think.

First of all, the parasite... if it was something like coccidia or giardia it's certainly possible, although those organisms are pretty ubiquitous in the environment. But if her dog got intestinal worms then it didn't get them from the foster if I'm understanding the time line correctly - most worms need at least a couple of weeks to go from exposure to infection, not a couple of days.

As far as the larger issue. I think that if you choose to foster, you kind of always have to assume that a new foster coming in is potentially contagious even if at the time of its exam it appears healthy -- the best anyone can say is that the dog looked healthy at the time it was examined and hadn't shown any signs of illness yet, but something like pneumonia or viral infections have incubation periods and might not yet be apparent at the time of the exam. I think contagious diseases are just a risk to your own pets that you assume if you choose to foster.

Having said that, I don't think Angela was really properly prepared or informed by your other friend or the rescue. If I'm understanding correctly, she doesn't foster regularly and probably wasn't aware of the inherent risks, AND she asked about it and was specifically told that the dog was safe and healthy and it was ok for the dogs to meet and play - no rescue should EVER phrase things that way to a foster, especially an inexperienced foster who will only be keeping the dog for a few days IMO. Personally, I would have told her to just keep the dogs separate because although the dog appears healthy why take the risk for a dog who is only going to be there a few days?

The whole situation is unfortunate on both sides. I don't care for Angela's attitude that her purebred dog got sick "for nothing" - what does the fact that the dog is a purebred have to do with anything? If it were me, I would probably just chalk it up to experience and choose not to foster in the future. But because of how she was assured the dog was healthy and because she's not an experienced foster, it's hard for me to completely jump on the "it's appalling that she asked for money for her vet bills" wagon even though I wouldn't do it myself.

For their part, I really think that Kelly and/or Lara dropped the ball in terms of their communication and information imparted. Clearly they assumed that Angela knew the risks she was getting into, because with their experience it seems obvious to them - but that's the kind of stuff that not everyone knows unless they are specifically told, especially if they are explicitly told the dog was healthy and it was ok for the dogs to play. If I were them, I would probably offer to split the bill and learn my lesson about the language I use and how I prepare foster homes, even emergency foster homes, for the risks inherent in fostering. Yes it's unfortunate that paying or helping to pay Angela's bill will put them in a bind, but on the other hand they don't get to say whatever they like to get a dog into a foster home and d@mn the consequences to everyone else. JMO.
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Old 07-28-2012, 09:38 AM
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Really I don't think Angela has any right to demand money for the vet bill.

I think it's totally possible for the dog to have seen a vet before she received him. The vet the shelter used when I got Yoshi missed her having worms, having a UTI, and the beginning of kennel cough. I think a lot of those vets do the vaccinations and then unless they see something right then they just OK the dog. So I think it's possible the rescuer had been given the wrong information.

Yes it sucks that her dog got sick but she should chalk it up to a learning experience and never. And I repeat NEVER foster another dog. If she is valuing one dog's life over another based on full breed or mixed IMO she doesn't have the right attitude to help out other than possibly monetary donations *I get caring for your dog more than one that you just took in. But to throw in 'my purebreed dog is better than yours is kind of trashy.

And if I was the rescue I'd never let that lady interact or adopt from us and I'd let other local rescues know her attitude about the shelter dogs as well... But that's just me and I hate rude prideful people.
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Old 07-28-2012, 09:43 AM
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Shelter/rescue groups are pretty notorious for taking really nice intentioned people and not preparing them adequately for the reality of fostering a dog from lord only knows where. When we had the last huge puppymill bust in this area hundreds of dogs were thrown into foster homes one or two at a time. These dogs did not have -ANY- of what I would consider to be critical tests before they were sent home with very well intentioned people to take care of in homes with existing dogs and children. Yes, some people's pets got sick. Some of these dogs were VERY sick or just amazingly frail.

That said this is this is a lesson to be learned. "Stuff" happens - a dog could have just as easily caught KC from a passerby on the sidewalk. I have to admit I'd probably ask for the rescue group to help me out but I can't say I would have demanded it. My dog is my responsibility.
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Old 07-28-2012, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by sassafras View Post
Agreed completely. Although since Angela isn't MY friend, though, here's what I think.

First of all, the parasite... if it was something like coccidia or giardia it's certainly possible, although those organisms are pretty ubiquitous in the environment. But if her dog got intestinal worms then it didn't get them from the foster if I'm understanding the time line correctly - most worms need at least a couple of weeks to go from exposure to infection, not a couple of days.

As far as the larger issue. I think that if you choose to foster, you kind of always have to assume that a new foster coming in is potentially contagious even if at the time of its exam it appears healthy -- the best anyone can say is that the dog looked healthy at the time it was examined and hadn't shown any signs of illness yet, but something like pneumonia or viral infections have incubation periods and might not yet be apparent at the time of the exam. I think contagious diseases are just a risk to your own pets that you assume if you choose to foster.

Having said that, I don't think Angela was really properly prepared or informed by your other friend or the rescue. If I'm understanding correctly, she doesn't foster regularly and probably wasn't aware of the inherent risks, AND she asked about it and was specifically told that the dog was safe and healthy and it was ok for the dogs to meet and play - no rescue should EVER phrase things that way to a foster, especially an inexperienced foster who will only be keeping the dog for a few days IMO. Personally, I would have told her to just keep the dogs separate because although the dog appears healthy why take the risk for a dog who is only going to be there a few days?

The whole situation is unfortunate on both sides. I don't care for Angela's attitude that her purebred dog got sick "for nothing" - what does the fact that the dog is a purebred have to do with anything? If it were me, I would probably just chalk it up to experience and choose not to foster in the future. But because of how she was assured the dog was healthy and because she's not an experienced foster, it's hard for me to completely jump on the "it's appalling that she asked for money for her vet bills" wagon even though I wouldn't do it myself.

For their part, I really think that Kelly and/or Lara dropped the ball in terms of their communication and information imparted. Clearly they assumed that Angela knew the risks she was getting into, because with their experience it seems obvious to them - but that's the kind of stuff that not everyone knows unless they are specifically told, especially if they are explicitly told the dog was healthy and it was ok for the dogs to play. If I were them, I would probably offer to split the bill and learn my lesson about the language I use and how I prepare foster homes, even emergency foster homes, for the risks inherent in fostering. Yes it's unfortunate that paying or helping to pay Angela's bill will put them in a bind, but on the other hand they don't get to say whatever they like to get a dog into a foster home and d@mn the consequences to everyone else. JMO.
^ Pretty much all of this. Most foster situations require you to bring the dog to the rescue's vet yourself too.
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Old 07-28-2012, 10:48 AM
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I bet the conversation went with the lady's vet like this:

"Your dog has X parasites or disease."

"I fostered a dog recently, could my dog haven't gotten X from that dog?"

"Yes, it is a possibility..."

"ZOMG THAT DOG MADE MY DOG SICK!!!!!"

For some reason people hear "definitely" in "possibly" all the time, I'm not sure why. I saw that a lot when I worked at the grooming place, people would come back yelling at us because their vet said that their dog caught something or something was caused by us when all the vet said was it was possible. It was so annoying.
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