So, I’d been deciding about writing all of this up, however, after reading reviews and information about New Hope Pet Rescue, the organization we rescued Tilda from, and then being silenced by their page, I decided that I should share all of the facts and evidence so as others look to adopt from this organization they can benefit from my experience. It’s a lot to read and really written for either potential adopters from New Hope Pet Rescue (NHPR) or potential clients of Spay & Neuter Express.
My husband & I adopted Tilda (Matilda Wilma Whiting), on March 29, 2017 from New Hope Pet Rescue. She was wild when we got her, no manners, no training, no boundaries. We worked with her on all of these issues, we fell in love with her. We trained her, took her to dog daycare for exercise every day, had additional dog training for her and then we found a dog sport for her to do to build confidence and give her a job. We started barn hunting in the summer and we were getting better at it over the fall. Our bond was growing and Tilda’s confidence was growing. She was blossoming into a great dog. I say all of that to say, that I KNOW that rescue dogs come with some baggage and require extra training, care and love. We went through a bout of canine influenza in the summer of 2017 and we battled a skin infection that she’d had since she’d been rescued, but had no other major health issues. We have an older basset hound with Cushing’s disease, allergies, and seizure disorder. We see our vet at least once a month. Vet bills for our older dog run over $200 a month every month between medications and other things that come up. We had a cancerous tumor removed from our first dog at a cost of $3000. We stay on top of all vetting for our dogs. I say all of that to say that we KNOW that vet bills are a part of owning a dog, but one bill that we did NOT expect was to have to remove an ovary from a dog that we rescued, already spayed by the rescue organization just weeks prior to our adoption.
On April 23, 2018, just as we were ready to start barn hunting season, something unexpected happened. I got a text from Dog Day Care asking me to call in, that they had something interesting to tell me about Tilda. I had hope that she was barking at rats, but unfortunately that wasn’t the news. The owner of dog daycare told me that Tilda was in heat. I said, what? She’s spayed! The owner there said that she’d seen this happen a couple of times where a dog is spayed but an ovarian remnant is left behind accidentally. They treated her like a bitch in season as we didn’t know what might be going on with her spay. We had to drop out of several barn hunt trials and contacted our vet right away to get in and see what we should do. Our first stop was to our vet’s office. They had some questions about if she was really actually spayed or if she was fully intact. They said that in many cases where this happens, someone has a dog they think was spayed, but it was not or it is a case of surgical error (ie the vet who spayed her screwed up). My vet said that the way this is typically handled is that the vet who made the error will send you to have a laparascopic spay to ensure that anything left behind is removed and so that you can have someone who didn’t make an error do the correction. He indicated that I should contact the rescue and that either the rescue or the vet who performed the spay should pay to have the laparascopic spay done to ensure the dog is actually spayed. Spaying the dog prior to adopting it is the rescue’s responsiblity under their contract.
So, on April 23rd, after leaving the vet’s office, I sent this email to the rescue.
I received a reply back.
Yes, I have the vetting paperwork and she was definitely spayed. She has a scar from a spay also.
That is so weird!!!
Thank you! I want to get it taken care of because a hound in heat is a force to be reckoned with. They will run off, they will act all nutty. My parents raised Treeing Walker Coon Hounds in the 80’s when I was growing up and it was always a challenge to keep a female in heat confined. For now, we are doing leash walks, not letting her run off leash other than at daycare. Daycare is treating her like they would an intact female in heat and keeping her segregated from all males in separate play yards. Before we realized that she was in heat, she was playing with an an intact male lab at daycare and he was acting all weird and panting and stuff and they thought he was overheating or having a medical issue. But, no, he was just being driven crazy by my girl I guess.
From: Conley, Tracy
to firstname.lastname@example.org, me, Tracy, New, nhprvetting
Spay and Neuter Express:
Last year we had Wilma Spay using your service, as with most of ours at that time.
The policy with the Spay and Neuter express last year was that you would take care of any spay related concerns that come up. Is this still the case so we can resolve this issue for the adopter?
Please read the below email chain from the adopter- the vet says the dog came into heat even after her spay surgery and is looking for more details regarding her surgery. Can you supply the information they are looking for?
Please let me know what you can find so the adopter can move forward with plans
New Hope Pet Rescue
This email also had several documents attached to it. For full transparency, I’m sharing them here as well.
On the Spay cert here, you can see that Lori Sanderson of Spay & Neuter Express performed the spay. I also have nothing good to recommend about her as you’ll see later in the story.
Note that from this email, no one ever wrote me back or called me. IF they wrote back to Tracy Conley or called her, she never called me or forwarded their email.
At this point though, I have all of the information that I need to go crazy dog momma. The Spay Cert has the phone number for Lori Sanderson and the Spay & Neuter Express.
On May 3rd, I had a consultation with my vet to discuss options and to set up a referral to Animal Surgical Specialties (who does the laparascopy).
Here’s my receipt from that day as NHPR disputes most of my story.
After discussing with my vet how the original vet should cover the costs of the laparascopic spay, I call several times on May 3rd to the phone number listed on the paperwork that was sent by New Hope. I’m attaching a screen capture of my call log because NHPR disputes that I spoke with anyone there.
I spoke with a gentleman named Paul on May 3rd. He was aware of the situation, so I assume that he had seen the email. He told me that this happens all the time and was no big deal. I asked a lot of questions about that because at this point, my vet had told me that it was kind of a big deal. I’d since learned that a dog’s ovaries (particularly the right one) is far up in their body and with a body style like Tilda’s that access to that area and finding the ovary remnant was not going to be easy or pleasant for her or for my vet. My vet was pushing hard for the laparascopic spay as the difference in recovery time was going to be significant in her opinion and also because it was the best way of ensuring that we found 100% of the material left behind.
So, in a nutshell, Paul told me that it wasn’t a big deal, that his only responsiblity was to re-do it at their facility and that they do that all the time. He told me that they go down to Mexico and in Mexico only the uterus is removed and they have to go in and remove the ovaries and it is no problem. He said that they know exactly where to go looking. All of this made me question about why they have so many of these happening all the time and also made me feel not good about putting my girl on the spay bus to have the doctor who made a surgical error the first time try to correct their error.
I had a consultation with Animal Surgical Specialties on May 4th. This is the clinic that performed the lifesaving operation to remove cancer from my older (now deceased) dog Quincy a few years ago. I have a lot of confidence in them. I’m attaching my receipt from my consultation there showing that I paid $50.
They usually charge $100 for a consultation but the doctor felt that it was too high for this scenario because typically a vet is paying for this laparascopic spay. He told me that either operation should be successful, either having a traditional surgery in my vet office or having the laparascopic spay. The laparascopic spay with CT would definitely find all remnants and would have a minimal recovery time of 2 weeks or so but would cost $1800-$2000. He also asked me if the rescue or the original vet her going to offset any costs. I told him that I hadn’t been led to believe that. He said that often the rescues will cover the expenses there. I thanked him for his information and told him that I’d think about my choices and call to schedule the laparascopy if we decided to go that route.
I was weighing options at this point and also working on a consult with a veterinarian in Minnesota that a friend told me to call for a 3rd opinion.
I did consult with Dr. Winsor in MN after I spoke with Paul at Spay & Neuter Express. I explained the situation and that my vet felt that the laparascopy would lead to the best recovery time and outcome. He wrote me back the following on May 5th. Note that when he says spay clinic here he is referencing my local vet office, not Spay & Neuter Express.
Good luck with your girl and decision.
Happy to help your decision process.
To their credit, New Hope Pet Rescue proactively reached back out to Spay & Neuter Express on May 9th and copied me sending this email.
From Conley, Tracy
to email@example.com, me, Tracy, New, nhprvetting
I am looking to follow up to see if you were able to collect any information for this adopter. Would like to get this issue resolved.
Please let me know as soon as possible
I wrote back the following.
I called Spay & Neuter express last week because I had a scheduled consultation with a surgeon and I wanted to know what their story was. I spoke with a man named Paul who said that I could sign her up for the mobile clinic again and he would fix at no charge. He said it’s “no big deal” and he does them all the time. I question why it is necessary all the time and that makes me question having him do it. I’ve spoken now to Dr. Doyle (who does them laparascopically) and did a consultation with a Dr. Winsor. Both of those vets say that they think that “No Big Deal” is a bit of an overestimation, that it is still surgery with all of the possible risks and complications. I have decided to have my local vet repair it with a traditional operation. My local vet (Bavarian Vet in Frankenmuth) had wanted me to go for the CT and laparascopic spay to ensure with 100% confidence that we got everything and to make sure that she didn’t have an extended healing & recovery time. However, it is $1800 for the CT and laparascopic spay and with no help from you or Spay & Neuter Express, I would be bearing that whole expense. Both Dr. Doyle and Dr. Winsor said that the risks and benefits of the laparascopic spay versus the traditional operation were comparable if done by a confident, qualified veterinarian.
After the surgery, I stayed home with her for the next day and then we had a 3 day weekend for Memorial Day. When we initially brought her home the day of the surgery, we had to carry her crate in like a gurney. She would not get up. For several days, she did not want to eat anything, but all of her antibiotics and pain pills needed to be taken with food. I sat by her side, pushing wet food down her throat to get enough food into her to get her to then safely take her medication. I kept her alive by sheer force of will for 3 days or more. It was the worst surgical experience that I’ve ever had to go through with a dog. She was absolutely miserable for almost a week. For the first few days, I honestly worried that she wasn’t going to make it and that I’d made the worst mistake ever not having the surgery laparascopically. She most likely had pancreatitis from everything I’ve read and learned and between the antibiotics and love, we powered through it.
A dog post deserves at least one dog picture. Here’s Tilda hours after coming home from surgery. We carried the whole crate in like a gurney because she absolutely would not get out of it and out of the car and it was too hot outside to leave her waiting long.
I do love this dog and I’m so happy that she’s in my life. I wish that New Hope had handled the situation differently. I wish that they had advocated for me and the dog more with Spay & Neuter Express. I wish that they had taken some action to help ensure that this dog was properly spayed. They should not have just stopped communicating with me right there. They should have written back and at least expressed a bit of care and concern for the dog and offered to try to reach out to Spay & Neuter Express to try and get them to offset some costs.
In the end, as evidenced by the receipts above, you can see that I spent $763.20 on this issue + lost wages at work due to time missed for appointments. The rescue spayed the dog and should be responsible. If they want to take it up with the vet, they are welcome to, but my relationship is with them, not with the vet they chose for the spay. However, they did not hold up their end of the bargain. This dog was not properly spayed. She had most of her right ovary left behind and likely had part of her left ovary, too. That is incredibly shoddy technique on the surgery and tells me that they shuffle in a bunch of dogs at one time and just cut them quick. It does not show love, care or concern for a beloved family pet. Knowing that a surgeon made a surgical error, who would go back to that same surgeon to have it repaired? Would you do that to your child? Your spouse? For Yourself? I wouldn’t and I wouldn’t do that to my dog either. The rescue had a responsiblity in this situation to advocate for my dog and they abandoned that responsibility.
However, after Tilda’s surgery, while she was still recovering, my gall bladder died. Then, the 2 of us were holed up together for about a month. I had decided to let go of being upset with the rescue organization and be happy that my dog and I were alive.
Then, after my gall bladder operation, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw this little nugget on their facebook page and the way that they attacked adopters after how they treated me just really sat wrong with me. They always go on attack with anyone that dares to question what they do and how they do it. If you complain about lack of communication they always talk about how they are 100% volunteer and things fall through the cracks. If you complain about the vetting of dogs they talk about how they are 100% donation and foster based and they are taking dogs out of high kill shelters that are lucky to be alive. It’s always an excuse and never taking an ounce of responsibility for things they say and do that harm dogs and harm people. Their choice of vet harmed my dog. They chose the lowest cost quickie spay surgery so that they could quickly put my Tilda into their “saved from terrible shelter” column. But, was she saved? Would a life of heat cycles, possible premature death from pyometra or ovarian cancer and the pain and grief of false pregnancy have been my girl’s best life? I don’t think so. So, I took to this comment thread to share the story of my experience with New Hope. They deleted my comment.
So, I tried again, this time I posted my comment separately not in this thread. Here’s what I posted (it did get deleted, but this time I saved it knowing that they were seeking to silence me).
Y’know, I’ve held in my feelings about this situation for almost 2 months but then you posted this self-righteous post about all of the good you do for dogs and how much YOU care and how little your adopters care and that really irked me. Then, I typed out my story about my dog and then you deleted my comment and that REALLY irks me. I hope you’ll let this one stand or I suppose now I’ll have to find other ways/places to say this. I am an adopter. I care deeply about my dog. I’ve had her for a little over a year. According to several of your comments here you talk about your responsibility being the health of the dog. Well, let’s talk about how you handled the health of my dog BEFORE I ever knew her. You took her to a discount spay bus for a quicky spay at the lowest possible cost. That vet committed a surgical error and he didn’t remove either of my dogs ovaries. Fast forward a year, my spayed female comes into heat. I learn that this is a thing that happens when the vet errors during surgery (usually because of trying to pull the ovaries up by the horns fast). He left not one, but 2 ovaries behind. My vet felt that the rescue or the original vet should pay for a laparascopic spay because the incisions would be smaller, the recovery time less and the impact on the dog reduced. You told me that you had no responsibility that it was up the vet. The vet you used told me just to bring her back into the bus and he’d take care of it. Ummm. . . no thanks. Who goes back to the offending surgeon to have a surgical error corrected? Is that how YOU would treat YOUR family member? I consulted with that vet and the vet who does laparascopic spays (who said that people who come in ALWAYS are getting it paid for by the vet who made the surgical error). I also consulted with an independent 3rd party vet. The laparascopic vet and the 3rd party vet both felt that it would be safe enough and lower cost for me to have the traditional surgery and would just be some additional recovery time. I decided to do that because it was half the cost of the laparascopy and my vet agreed to try to correct your vet’s error. My girl was under anesthesia for over 2 hours. Had both ovaries, one right on her pancreas. The other was surrounded by cysts. She was at risk for pyometra as well because of the hormones and lack of uterus (your vet did actually get the uterus out). So, I spent $1000 on the surgery and spent a weekend with my dog in my arms thinking she was going to die because of the pancreatitis. I kept her alive by sheer will & love that weekend. She had a full 3 weeks of recovery. Why was all of this necessary? Because you chose the cheapest vet you could find to perform her surgery and he did it without a single ounce of care for her or her outcomes. That’s the only reason. When I asked you and I asked your vet, you were unwilling to help at all in this situation other than just to go have the guy who screwed up try to fix his own error. People should know that you are using discounted, error prone vets to do surgeries on these animals before they are adopted out. You should give adopters the option of having their own trusted vets perform the spay. I’ll never rescue from your organization again because I had to see my dog go through pure hell because of that surgical error. So, your self righteousness here is odious to me. Your responsibility as the rescue organization is to the health of the dog and that entails their veterinary care when they are in your care. You can’t just cheapskate out on the veterinary care and then talk about how great you are at helping these animals My dog went through more trials than were necessary because of the veterinary care you selected. You might delete this comment, too. That will say more about you and your lack of ability to hear or accept any criticism than it does about me.
At this point, they did in face decide to delete my comment. So, I wrote them an email. Now, I hit reply all to that thread that had concluded and so ALL of that information was contained below my message. The WHOLE thread detailing what I’d done, the consultation, the call with Spay & Neuter Express. All of that.
So, they responded:
I DID contact them! See email in this thread where I told you about the conversation that I had with Paul at Spay & Neuter Express. It was HARD to get a hold of them at all and their answers were not ideal. They told me that “this happens all the time” they wouldn’t pay for the laparascopic spay and that their only obligation was to fix it themselves and that it was “No Big Deal” to fix it that they do it all the time in Mexico!!! I’m serious about that. There was no way I was putting my girl back on the spay bus to have the guy who screwed up do the surgical repair. I have no recourse to “go after” them because I WASN’T their client. YOU are/were. You, in comments on that post, said that YOU are responsible for their health when they are in your care. THAT was why, along with your really poor attitude towards adopters, was what got me riled up. You posted that post to “stir things up”, well, consider them stirred. I had let this go before seeing your post. I just think that is a REALLY bad attitude towards adopters who make rescue possible when you didn’t take any responsibility or even offer me any help reaching the Spay bus people (I ended up calling them repeatedly one night before finally Paul answered, they NEVER called me themselvs) or offer a single iota of assistance in paying for the laparascopic spay.
They then replied (as I said, I think that getting the last word is her thing, too).