First-Person Stories of Abuse Experienced at Wise Owl Animal Hospital

[ These stories were emailed to the editor and the sender's verified via subsequent phone conversations. ]

Ghost by KU - 30 July 2015

I had called Wise Owl Animal Hospital to inquire about having a routine physIcal conducted on my dog. I explained to them that my dog (Ghost) had been missing for over a year after she was stolen from my home and we had just found her in another village. I wanted to check her health as she was not in the same condition she was before she was stolen. I explained that she was bumping into things and had really bad breath. I asked how much it would cost and was told it would be about $65 for a routine exam. I was told to bring her in that day and thay it would only take an hour.

I brought her to Wise Owl before lunch time and waited an hour in the waiting room with Ghost and my children before being brought into the exam room. While we were waiting in the exam room the veterinary technician told me that I needed to sign a document to allow them to conduct the bloodwork on her as I was told they needed to check for parasites in her blood. So I signed the document with the understanding it was only to allow them to draw her blood.

I proceeded to wait for an additional 2 hours during which time I had asked when the vet would be coming to look at her because my children were getting fussy and hungry. I was told that the vet could not see her and advised to leave my dog overnight because they were not sure how much longer the vet would be. They said that I would not be charged and they would call me after the vet saw Ghost which would possibly be after clinic hours. Because my children were hungry I agreed and left Ghost at Wise Owl under the impression that the vet was only going to do a routine check up on her.

Later that evening I received a call from Dr Joel Joseph notifying me that she did not have any blood parasites. He also stated that her eyes needed medication to clear them up and help her see better and that her teeth were in bad condition and would need to be pulled. He stated that he was not going to pull her teeth until a week from that day. He then told me I could pick her up the next day.

The following day prior to me attempting to pick up my dog I received another phone call from Dr Joel Joseph stating that he went ahead and pulled all her teeth out This took me by surprise as he had already told me he wasn't going to do the procedure until I brought her back the next week and I did not give him authorization to do the procedure or sign any surgery documents. When I arrived to pick up Ghost I was told that my bill was over $500 and I was only anticipating the bill to be $65 to $100 at the most. I told them I could not afford to pay the bill and asked if I could pay $200 and go on a payment plan. I also spoke with Ben Joseph the son of Joel Joseph who said I could work out a payment plan with them.

However the staff told me that I could not because my bill was not over $1000 and that I could not take my dog unless I paid in full. I explained that $200 was all the money I have as I am a single mother of six and continued to ask them to please let me take my dog home because I would not be able to afford any additional charges. They said they would speak with Doctor Joseph and give me a call. I received a call the next day saying that they would not allow me to get on a payment plan despite me paying nearly half the bill already and that I could only have my dog back when the bill was paid in full and that each day my dog was there they would charge an additional $50. I again explained to them that there was no way I could afford to pay the rest of the bill and the additional $50 a day. I explained my situation to them that I am a single mother of six and only make so much but they would not release her to me.

The following week I received a call asking when I would be able to pay the bill in full to include the additional overnight charges. I again explained to them that I could not pay at this time and thay they were making it even more difficult by not allowing me to take my dog home and witholding her while adding more charges. I told the vet technician that my remaining bill was about $300 and that because they would not allow me to take Ghost home as I begged they were making it impossible for me to pay for the costs. I again asked for them to allow me to take her home to avoid the additional charges but they told me no I needed to pay in full. To which I told them I could not afford it as I did not have the money to pay for the costs.

It wasn't until my bill was $1600, $1100 more than the original bill, that they called me and said I could take my dog home but I had to pay at least $50 to be able to bring her home and avoid any further charges. I agreed to pick her up because I did not want to continue to be charged. I am now being taken to court for $1600 and need help as I feel he held my dog hostage and lied to me about when he would do the procedure. Please respond any information is greatly appreciated.

Ghost by KU - Denouement

Ghost's case was heard at the end of October in Small Claims Court. Wise Owl was represented by long-time employee Rosanna Fernandez, the defendant appeared pro se but was prepared as per the advice in the Small Claims section.

The judged stated at the beginning of the case that it appeared that Wise Owl had held Ghost hostage to maximize damages (fees). He also recognized that the consent stamp KU had signed when Ghost was dropped off was only for the physical exam and excluded the oral surgery performed later. As the inflated $50/day boarding charges were a consequence of the unauthorized surgery, all of Wise Owl's claims for damges were dismissed.

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