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Couple considering legal action against vet after dog’s death

STURGIS, Mich. — A Sturgis couple is grieving the unexpected loss of their 2-year-old dog after he died during a procedure to get his ears cleaned.

Ashton Sutton told WNDU he dropped his German shepherd, Rocky, off at Fawn River Animal Clinic to get his ears cleaned. At some point during the procedure, Rocky died.

“It’s very hard, as me and my fiancée can’t have children,” he said. “So, that was our baby that had passed away on the table.”

The clinic says the dog wouldn’t calm down during the procedure, so they gave Rocky an anesthetic. He started having issues breathing and was given more drugs to treat the issues.

John Lindamood, the clinic’s owner, told WNDU Rocky wasn’t given anything that should have made a dog his size overdose, and suspects the dog had a bad reaction to anesthesia.

An official determination will be made once an autopsy is completed.

Rocky’s owners claim they weren’t told death was a possible scenario. Lindamood says an employee didn’t give them a waiver citing the risks of the procedure, and that employee has been let go.

Sutton says he is looking into taking legal action against the clinic.

"So we're looking to get him shut down and just justice for Rocky," he said.

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15 comments

    • Sean Lance

      It wasn’t surgery, it was an ear cleaning. They simply decided to administer anesthetic when the animal wouldn’t calm down. Since he wasn’t there for surgery, anesthetic should never have been administered until a vet could consult with the dog’s owner.

  • Pat

    How about allowing room for the vet to help find another dog? C’mon. I realize it’s hard, sad, etc. But a lawsuit? Seems a big too drastic of a reaction.

  • Doug

    Very Sad
    As a long time pet owner and animal rescuer i can feel your loss even more than you could imagine. I understand that in your time of grief you are searching for an area of blame and or someone to blame. One question comes to mind here. What would you have done if the woman at the clinic would have walked up to you and asked you to sign the “waiver” your talking about? Would you have said no thank you and taken Rocky to a clinic that doesn’t have waivers? Again i do understand your loss and my prayers are with you. Several comments about your TV interview seems to indicate that your statements of legal issues, closing down the clinic in the name of “Justice for Rocky” are no more than a ploy to extract monies for your own personal gain. Hopefully this is not the case. Again this is a terrible situation for all.

    • Dave

      Well, shoot, got through a somewhat normal comment board without mention of anything poli… Damn, someone let a Trumptardican loose on the internet again. Rats. Anywho, my condolences to the dog owner’s for their loss (also to the vet clinic, as it doesn’t look too hot for them without that waiver).

      R.I.P. Rocky

    • Catrina

      Andrew, I’m afraid that is not the case. Can it be one cause for a reaction? Sure. But there are individuals who simply have a adverse reactions to anesthesia, and there are other medical conditions that can predispose a person/animal to an adverse reaction, some of which would not be likely to be detected without specialized testing that may not have been indicated before an issue was apparent (especially in the animal world).

  • Catrina

    Having been in the veterinary industry for 10 years, I can tell you that this is sad but it’s a risk. I don’t know every detail of this situation, but I can tell you that it’s as likely as not that the vet did absolutely nothing wrong. An ear cleaning for an infection (which is almost certainly what this was for) is extremely painful. Many dogs will not tolerate it, and it can be a kindness as well as a practicality to give a sedative. Bloodwork is usually recommended prior to any sedative, and owners are across the board generally required to sign a release acknowledging the risks of sedation/anesthesia. The type of medication is chosen based on health, age, and breed, and the dose is calculated by weight and the amount used is logged in more than one place for more than one reason. Is it possible the vet did not recommend or do these things properly? It doesn’t say in the article, so it’s certainly possible. It is equally possible, I would argue likely more so, that the vet did everything right and either it was a freak medical reaction – which also happens, there are sometimes just underlying medical factors that could not be foreseen – or the owners declined bloodwork due to cost, didn’t read what they signed regarding risk, etc. I would bet my last dollar that vet is blaming himself and feeling terrible even though he did everything right, and the owners are lashing out looking for someone to blame for their broken heart. Sometimes bad things happen in life, and it’s not anyone’s fault. Everyone wants someone to blame. Ruining this person’s livelihood won’t bring their dog back, and unless it can be proven that the vet didn’t follow protocol which should be easily provable based on the record-keeping, I am inclined to believe based on my years of experience that the couple is lashing out unfairly. I’m sorry to say it happens ALL the time, especially after folks decline recommended services due to cost. (And most local vets are barely making ends meet and have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, so the whole myth that they charge an arm and a leg to get rich is hogwash.)

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