I have used Commonwealth for several years and was pleased with their service. However, several months ago everything changed. I took my 3 1/2 yr old dog for his annual exam and was told he needed to have a tooth extracted. On the day of the surgery we had blood work done and were told the results were all normal. About an hour later I was called and informed that my dog died after the surgery. After speaking to the vet he couldn't offer me an explanation of what happened. THen my husband, a healthcare proffesional, also spoke to the vet. Results..... CLEARLY, THE VET DID NOT MAINTAIN THE AIRWAY DURING SURGERY. Of course they were sympathetic and I wasn't charged anything, but my dog was gone. Making things worse , after this incident I decided to take my other dog to a different vet, when asked about the records I was told there would be a $10.00 charge. I wouldn't recommend this vet clinic to anyone and unfortunately after this incident I heard others that feel the same way.
A year ago I would have given high marks to this veterinary practice. They always went out of their way to assist me and my husband in providing health care for our several house cats. They would even follow up by phone in a day or so to ensure everything was going as it should. However, due to recent events, I feel I can no longer recommend them as a veterinary practice for domestic pets. Over the last couple of months one of our older cats, who already had some health issues, developed a lump over her eye. After waiting a few days to see if it would clear up we took her to Commonwealth for evaluation. Our regular veterinarian was not available, so we saw another one associated with the practice. We were given several scenarios as to what might be causing the problem, along with a list of tests and surgeries that could be performed, as long as we agreed to anesthesia to do this. Considering her age of over 14 years anesthesia caused us concern. We asked if there was something we could try that did not require anesthesia to see if they could diagnose the problem. Was there any medication we could try? We were told this was our only option and were given a detailed paper on the proposed diagnostic procedures. We felt uncomfortable with this one-only option and took the cat to another veterinary practice for a second opinion. The other veterinarian told us there were other options and what they were. We had a needle biopsy done that did not require sedation or anesthesia. A course of antibiotics was started based on the results of the biopsy. We took the cat and this all this information back to Commonwealth to our regular veterinarian to continue treatment. The cat was seen by this same veterinarian at Commonwealth three times within eight days. Additional blood tests were run as well as additional medicines prescribed. On the last visit on the morning of 12/23 the cat was diagnosed as having gone blind overnight and the lump had increased in size since the visit two days prior. A different medicine was prescribed. Much later that evening the cat seemed to become extremely disoriented plus she would not drink or eat. Very early the following morning, 12/24, we tried again to get her to eat and drink, but she just seemed to have a gag reflex and she was unable to swallow. She appeared to possibly be having problems breathing and we realized she was in great distress and that she would probably need to be euthanized. My husband immediately called Commonwealth and was told by the answering service that they were closed that Saturday morning due to the next day being Christmas. He was told to contact the emergency service they recommended. My husband briefly explained to the answering service agent what had been going on with this pet in the last few weeks, and that we had just seen our regular vet yesterday on an emergency visit. He told her we felt the cat needed immediate euthanasia since she was obviously in great distress and he requested the answering service to please contact the on-call veterinarian and just have them call us. He explained the cat seemed to be suffering greatly and we did not want her last moments to be at an emergency clinic. He also told her the name of our regular veterinarian. The agent agreed to contact the on-call veterinarian and request they call us back. Several minutes later we did receive a call, but it was just the answering service agent to inform us that the on-call veterinarian was not our regular veterinarian and had refused to call anyone who did not have a “large animal”. The agent said she was told to tell us again that all domestic pets should be referred to the emergency service. Again my husband tried to explain that this cat had been under the care of Commonwealth for several weeks for related problems and was seen just the day before. The answering service agent said she had told this to the on-call veterinarian and the veterinarian had been very specific that there were to be no calls other than those related to “large animals”. The agent told my husband the veterinarian was agitated about having been contacted about this as there had already been several calls that morning in regard to domestic pets. I thought that perhaps there had been a misunderstanding and called the answering service myself. I reached the same agent who said she had talked to the on-call veterinarian and had explained to the veterinarian that the cat probably needed immediate euthanasia. The agent said she had been reprimanded by the on-call veterinarian because this was a domestic pet and had instructed her to inform us it was the policy of the practice to only treat large animals if the office itself was closed. The agent said she was told to tell us to call the emergency clinic and not to call the office again until Monday. The agent also told me that the on-call veterinarian had stressed to her in no uncertain terms not to call again regarding any domestic pets. It is my opinion that the on-call veterinarian did not want to be called out at all on that day for any reason. In my opinion this is not the way a client should be treated at any time, but least of all at a time when euthanasia is required. I understand they have a right to set policy, but I believe it is reasonable to expect an exception to be made for an urgent euthanasia of a pet that they have been treating. We were able to reach the Animal Hospital of Waynesboro who agreed to see the cat immediately. The office staff and the veterinarian, Dr. Ratigan, made us feel that our feelings and the care of our pet were their top priority. It was necessary, as we suspected, to have our pet euthanized, but it was done with dignity and tenderness. Our friend of over 14 years died peacefully with her head resting on my hand while we told her how much we loved her and would always miss her. This peaceful good-bye was all we were asking of Commonwealth, but we were denied even a simple phone call from the on-call veterinarian. When it becomes necessary to say goodbye to a loved pet quoting policy seems cold, indifferent and uncaring to me. We received a call early Tuesday afternoon from a Commonwealth staff member to say they were calling on behalf of the on-call veterinarian from Saturday morning to see how our cat was doing. I believe there have been several changes to the staffing at Commonwealth in the last several months and it is my opinion the quality of care they offer to pets is suffering due to this. I believe large animals take priority over domestic pets with this practice as I have had several appointments that were either delayed or rescheduled due to the vet I was scheduled to see being unavailable due to a large animal call.
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