Saturday, December 12, 2009

What happened to Smokey at College Park Animal Hospital?

What happened was tragic. It is painful to relive the three weeks of January 2008 that led up to Smokey's death on January 29th at the ER in Bowie, MD. It is so painful because, with the shared knowledge we have now, the regret of the blind trust we once had for veterinarians is enormous. If only someone had shaken us awake before it was too late! If only we had paid attention to the warnings of those who had walked this awful path before! If only, if only...The purpose of our work now is to avoid others the heartbreak of a pet's needless suffering.

We thought that the best way of giving a detailed day by day account of what happened would be to post the correspondence surrounding Smokey's ill-fated treatment at College Park Animal Hospital in January of 2008. Here are the links:

1. My letter to Thomas McMichael, DVM

2. Dr. McMichael's transcribed voice message to me on February 7th 2008 and my response to it on the next day

3. My response to Dr. McMichael's rebuttal to the State Veterinary Board


  1. Ms. Kramer I am sorry for your lost but I also think you should consider the feelings of others before you post defamatory, libelous and hateful comments. I find your comments insulting and abusive.

  2. Anonymous, I was not planning to allow anonymous comments, but I will make an exception in this case. I think you are confusing the issues: my comments may well be unpleasant to you or the people you care about. My statements, however, are factual and true, and as such, cannot be libelous or defamatory. You may want to check Webseter's or some other similar source for a definition of libel and defamation; if you do, you will find that to be defamatory or libelous, a statement must be untrue, not simply unpleasant to the party to whom it pertains.

    Whose feelings exactly am I supposed to be considerate of? Of those people, who were hostile, insinsitive, and dishohest with me and my family at the time that our elderly pet suffered needlessly as a result of their errors? To Dr. McMichael, who in order to be vindictive to me, took his anger out on homeless dogs, caged at his clinic 24/7, by depriving them of the only walks and human contact we were offering them? You would be very hard pressed to find anyone, who would be considerate of such people's feelings in any situation similar to this one. Had they demonstrated maturity, integrity, and compassion, I would still have the right to truthfully tell what happened, but I might be more inclined to be considerate of their feelings than I am, given their unfortunate actions.

    You don't seem to be able to relate to the feelings of grief and loss when veterinary errors result in a pet's suffering and possibly an untimely death. Well, that's the way you are, but many people can relate to it and have been very supportive of our efforts to make this information public for the benefit of other pet owners and their pets. We have the right to truthfully tell what happened. If the truth is not very flattering to Dr. McMichael, he should have created a better and more attractive truth, when the time was right. Our right to tell the truth is Constitutionally protected. We plan to exercise this right, whether you like it or not.

  3. Anonymous: What is posted here is not defamation, libel or slander. It is true. Given that it is true, it is none of the things you say it is. A letter of censure was issued by the Vet Board. That is public record and can be talked about openly. If this vet wanted a different outcome they should have created a different TRUTH. I commend Natalie for informing the public about what happened to Smokey so that other pet owners can be more INFORMED! Pet owners should have ALL the facts, not just the ones you want them to have. The public, many of whom love their animals, take this very seriously and do not discount these facts as frivolous or libel. It is is factual information and we have a right to know it.

  4. Anonymous, come out from behind your name and maybe you will gain more credibility. On second thought, you also need to constructively question or comment regarding contents or evidence versus simple idiotic personal attacks.

    Don't you agree that someone that has had a pet severely injured or dead via misdiagnosis, negligence, malpractice OR abuse should attempt to let others know to be cautious and wary with their own beloved pet?

    These aren't just "nothings" to their families , as they are viewed in the legal realm.

  5. It is about time that veternary mistakes are brought to light. I too lost my beloved dog when a veterinarian chose to use a drug labeled for Cattle & Horses. It also carries 43 times higher risk factor for death than comparable safer drugs, yet the very people that claim they care so much for our pets compromised my dog as a direct result he died. The drug I am talking about is XYLAZINE, it was used off label without my informed consent. The clinic did not inform me that they are operated by a rescue group, which they hide behind and use drugs that are cheaper and not as safe. This does not make it right, you still need to inform the public what you are doing. It is strange that when the truth is told, then someone comes about to defend the clinic or veterinarian by claiming that the victims that have had the tragic loss of their pet should hide in the dark and not inform others. There are many others and the truth will be told by the people that truly care about their pets. Thank you for your information and I am truly sorry for your loss as I know exactly what you are going through. I am traumatized and will never blindly trust any veterinarian again. I miss my dog everyday and will never forget him.

  6. My Cat died the week before Thanksgiving, November 17, 2009. The vet a Takoma Park Animal Hospital put her to sleep because she had become so ill.
    That evening when I got home, I found out that the Vetsulin they had prescribed had killed my cat. That d@m stuff and been RECALLED by the FDA, and they didn't tell me! Even after I called and complained about their non-disclosure, they were STILL giving it to dogs and cats. I wrote one of the vets a letter about how badly my cat had deteriorated during the 7 mos. she was on Vetsulin. The vet NEVER responded to my letter. I called the office and the b*tc# receptionist would hang up on me. These people should lose their license. They only care about one thing ... MONEY!! Not the animals! They basically made me kill my own cat with PIG poison. I am furious.
    At least someone in Sylvania, OHIO had the decency to file a class action suit against Schering-Plough (the makers of the poisonous Vetsulin).

  7. Dear Takoma Park Anonymous, I am very sorry about your loss. And I can also empathize with the way you feel, being on the receiving end of the hostile treatement by the vet and his staff. It is awful that these vets become nasty or dismissive to grieving pet owners, who just lost their pets, and truamatize us even further. We would all be much better off if they had the decency to be honest and compassionate with us because all we want is honesty and commitment to improvement. Hostility in the wake of tragic veterinary errors is a common problem, however, and you are not alone.

    If you like, please feel free to send me your phone number and/or e-mail address, and I will get in touch with you. If you enter your phone number and/or e-mail address on this blog, I will not post them. I am the moderator and have the ability to pre-screen the posts before they are published, or not publish them at all.

    I wish healing and peace of mind to you. It helps to fight to find justice for your pet, and when you do, you feel more at peace, even despite the loss. Take care. Natalie Kramer

  8. I'm gonna make this quick, because I have to go to work, but I just read one of the letters you sent to the Veterinary Board.
    Do you know ... EVERY SINGLE cat I've had for the last 30 years has had a "heart murmur". I'd gotten to the point where, I would IGNORE vets when they'd tell me my cat had a heart murmur because THEY'VE ALL HAD HEART MURMURS! Now they tell me my dog has a heart murmur. Frankly, these vets are FOS. I will have to find one I feel I can trust.
    No more LIARS or money-grubbing INCOMPETENTS!
    The other thing that makes my and your cat's death so tragic is ... THERE IS NO CLOSURE, because the Drs. and their staff showed no empathy whatsoever. It's like we're the family the murder victim left behind.
    I feel Schering Plough murdered my cat.
    And my vet GAVE ME THE DRUG (Vetsulin) TO KILL HER, even after it had been recalled by the FDA!
    It took 7 months ... a slow, MORBID death.
    Thank G*d, someone is going to suing them!

  9. Dear Anonymous from Takoma Park, please take care of yourself and get help for your grief and anger. Your feelings are normal, for anyone who feels victimized and helpless. It's not easy to deal with these feelings, especially at first, but time does help. Taking appropriate action helps too. I strongly recommend that you file a complaint with the Veterinary Board. You will find the complaint form at The address where to submit the form is on it as well. You can also copy the state and county chapters of the Veterinary Medical Association. They have no enforcement power, but they will keep this information on file, and they do, sometimes, offer their peer "suggestions" to the vet in question. Take care, and please stay in touch. You can also write to me privately through Yelp if you like.

  10. Takoma Park Hospital Victim, I know exactly what you are going through, I lost my dog when a clinic in Md, chose to use a cattle & horse drug on my dog, and he died. Please write the State veterinarian Board, they need to record this and you will be helping the next unsuspecting clients and pets. Also please contact the drug manufacturer and join in with the class action suit. You need to bring this to the public's attention and you might be able to save another pet. Also go to the listing of Takoma PK Hospital and rate them. This helps the others to either read what happened to you and to make the right decision. I was the first one to rate the clinic in which my dog died, and as a result I hope that I have helped others. You definately are not alone, we are many and we need to speak up and stop this horrible tragity from happening again. It is truly sad that any one has to endure this but we have to speak out in order for this to ever stop. I would love to talk to you if you so choose. I am truly sorry for your loss. I too have had three dogs with heart murmers so I have much information I could share with you. This is a traumatizing ordeal. Unfortunately we have all learned,never blindly trust any veterinarian. I am truly sorry for your loss.