Events of Friday February 6, 2004

Louie was the most wonderful dog in the world. To know Louie was to smile. He was 2 years old and extremely healthy. He was my sole companion. On February 6 Louie was attacked by coyotes in my back yard between 8 and 8:30. He was only with them for about 15 seconds as I was right behind him. I grabbed him away from the coyotes and started trying to find emergency aid for him. I called the veterinarian's office down the street and their recorder directed me somewhere else since it was after hours. Unfortunately the animal hospital I ended up taking my little Louie was Coastal Animal Hospital on Hacienda Dr. in Vista.

I was too distraught to drive. In my socks, no shoes, wearing my bloody shirt carrying my Louie wrapped up in a lambskin and wool blanket trying to comfort him. I ran across the street to my neighbor and asked them to please drive me to the Emergency Pet hospital on Hacienda next to the In N Out so that I could hold Louie and comfort him as she drove. We arrived at the hospital about 9pm. Louie was in pain and scared but still very much alert. He recognized me and my voice and it soothed him some.

The veterinarian on duty looked at him briefly at the front counter and said he would write up an estimate. He said it was customary to pay at least 50% of the estimate before they begin work. I asked him to care for Louie immediately that I didn’t care what it cost to heal him. I later was told by a breeder that you never say such things to any type of service provider. That you are giving them carte blanche to take advantage of you. The veterinarian insisted on writing the estimate.

The veterinarian told me that he was going to wait until Louie “stabilized” and then he would draw blood as well as take X-rays to determine the damage. That he could feel broken ribs and a laceration on each side of his chest. But that nothing could be done until X-rays were taken.

They had me sign papers quoting between $1300 and $1500 to treat him. I was crying so hard during all this that I could barely see. I think I was pretty much in shock. I'm diabetic and the stress of the previous hour was completely distorting everything especially my vision at this point. They read the high points of the estimate to me. This to include:

  • the after hours emergency visit fee
  • X-ray fee
  • blood work fees
  • surgery fee
  • pain medication
  • housing fee for Louie to stay there 12 hours (as though paying for a hospital room)
  • IV fee
  • medications to go home with him
  • the collar to keep him from pulling out stitches
  • pain patch
  • and more

All these were included in the estimate. I also signed a “Do Resuscitate” order. The girl at the front desk insisted that I pay them at least $1000 before they would start. This was far greater than the 50% the veterinarian said was needed to start work. I assumed the receipt they gave me was a copy of their estimate. I was crying very hard and did not have my glasses on. I could only guess at what I was signing. I didn’t realize till the next day that all I got was a generic “thanks for the $1000 receipt” with nothing itemized like the estimate. I have NEVER received a receipt from these people and can only imagine what they have put on it in the intervening weeks!

I went to the back room to see Louie before I left. They had stuck put him in a wire cage with only his bloody blanket. Louie was still awake, alert and he recognized me. He stood up and walked to my fingers as I stuck them through the cage and let me pet him before I left. He looked me in the eyes and I told him how much I loved him and that he would be ok. I absolutely had no idea that I would never see him again.

My neighbor drove me home. The attendant told me to call back in an hour and they would know a lot more about his condition after taking the X-rays and blood work to see if he was bleeding internally. I called them at 10:20 and the girl told me they were in the middle of Louie’s surgery. I asked about his X-rays and she said they never did take any. I asked about his blood work and she said they didn’t do that either. She indicated that she needed to get back in with the doctor and didn’t have time for my questions. The veterinarian called me at 11pm and told me that Louie died in surgery! He said that he would be there until 8am the next morning for me to make arrangements for Louie.

I was in shock and in tears for the entire night.

About 7AM still in shock not having slept the whole night I drove back to their office to retrieve Louie’s body so I could bury it. I also assumed I would get a large refund. I told the girl at the front desk that I was there to retrieve Louie. She went through the office and got an empty office supply box that reams of paper comes in and I assume put Louie in it. She came back out front without him and told me that I owed another $99 and did I want to make a payment! At first I thought she was saying that they were only going to refund $99. But no, she actually wanted me to give them more money!

I informed her that I did not have my purse with me. She refused to give me my dog to bury until I gave them the extra money! I was still in tears and just turned around and left never to return.

I sincerely feel that they killed my dog. They did not take X-ray as stated nor blood work. I don’t know what they did to him since I never got to see him again. They kept his body as well as the reversible blanket I carried him in.

I spoke with my neighbor the next day and she was shocked that he died too. She said she was really surprised since he was so alert when we left as well as the whole trip to their hospital. She also said she was not impressed with this clinic and did not have good feelings about them but didn't want to scare me any further. I never got an itemized statement. I want a refund. If only I had taken him somewhere else I feel he would still be alive. They were too preoccupied with collecting money to take proper care of him. I want his blanket sent to me (no, I do not want to go pick it up.) More than anything I wish I had taken him to another animal hospital! I believe my little Louie would still be alive if I had had the time to find another place open.

To top it off I received a sympathy card from them a week or so later.. they misspelled his name!

I tell this story to everyone that asks me where is Louie. So does my neighbor. Be careful where you take your ailing pets! Find an emergency clinic that someone recommends – BEFORE you need it.

To sum it up……. Coastal Animal Hospital, 1900 Hacienda Dr., Vista CA 92083 took $1000 then killed my dog and refused to give me his body until I dished out another $99! I wonder if my precious Louie is really dead since they wouldn't give him back.

If you have had a similar experience with these people please contact me or if you have any questions send me an email to

Bobbye Fortney
Oceanside, CA