Article courtesy of Press-Telegram Long Beach, CA


Complaints about pet care trigger a 'cat fight'

Pets: Flock of clients alleges that vets did not deliver as advertised

By Joe Segura
Staff writer  

   Complaints about the treatment of pets at All Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley have been logged with the Orange Country District Attorney's Office.
   Several letters, alleging that the pet clinic fails to provide
specialized services as advertised, have been sent to the office's Consumer Protection Unit over the past couple of years.
   Assistant District Attorney Robert Gannon, who heads the
unit, said in a recent interview that the issues are under review
and a decision should be made soon on the merits of the complaints -- and whether the issues raised should be handled
by the prosecutor's office or by the state veterinary board.
   Tim McElroy, the chief financial officer of All Care, declined to discuss specific cases but said the complaints lack merit because the clinic handles a large volume of cases and some animals will not survive treatment.
   "Statistically, things can happen," he added.
   "We have a tremendous volume of cases," he said, estimating about 35,000 clients per year. "And we have a tremendous number.  A number of animal owners have taken their issues to court, contesting the cost of treatment at the facility at 18440 Amistad St.
   They also allege that their animals have died due to poor care.
   Joanna Patrice complained in a May 1998 letter that the "Mayo-like clinic" advertised that it offered the highest quality veterinary care by a staff of specialists. She said she discovered that the staff is not on the premises, and that some did not have specialized training. She also complained that her pet cat Rusty was given an unnecessary operation that led to heart failure and death.
   Another pet owner, Mildred Muller, complained that her dog underwent exploratory surgery of a prostate problem, but allegedly the wrong samples went to the lab.
   Barry and Barbara Hayslett complained that their sheep dog Alex needed a pacemaker, but the clinic allegedly delayed repeated efforts to get the device, resulting in the pet's death. And the clinic reportedly charged the pair $3,500.