Clinic Stories

The Butler Did It!

"Dr. X (a local dentist) is on the phone" my receptionist announced. "He is very angry and says we lost his dog." He and his wife had recently gotten a puppy and our involvement was limited to vaccinating a healthy and playful puppy. In a biting, accusatory tone, he claimed that we spayed his dog two weeks earlier then called to say the dog had died during surgery. Now he received an anonymous call revealing that the puppy was at the Fair Lawn Animal Shelter. He and his wife just returned from the shelter, reunited with the puppy and he demanded answers. Conversation and reason were impossible. I told him we had no record of the dog being at the office in over two months.

He insisted that his wife dropped the dog off for boarding and a spay while they went on vacation, that Dr. F called to say the dog died, left an 800 number and they were not been able to reach us back at that number. I explained that we had no record of the dog being dropped off, that there was no authorization form signed, and no evidence that the dog had been to us. He continued to froth and foam, demanding explanations how this could happen and screaming that his wife had hastily dropped the dog off and left without signing anything. Several other conversations to gather information were unproductive. His focus was informing me that our office was comprised of crooks and liars who could not be trusted to be near any animal. As I checked out the story, indeed Mrs. X had made an appointment for a spay while boarding but called the evening before to cancel. Even more helpful was the Animal Control Officer in Fair Lawn. She picked the dog up at 8:10 AM on the morning in question after receiving a call that the dog was found running at large. This placed the dog in Fair Lawn before our office was open.

The ACO was also there when Dr. and Mrs. X picked up their puppy. “I have a suspicion that Mrs. X may have not wanted this puppy and she was involved in turning it loose” I stated. The ACO concurred; that was her suspicion exactly. Normally they only keep a dog for a week but they hung onto this one because she was so cute, friendly and well cared for. She was certain someone would be in to claim her. When Dr. and Mrs. X came in, Dr. X was ecstatic but Mrs. X was downcast. She would not make eye contact and seemed upset that the puppy was back. I was ready. I called Dr. X with an opener designed to turn the tables. “Your wife is lying and I can prove it. I want to talk her.” With no argument or hesitation, he put his wife on the phone. I laid out the reasons why her story was wrong. Four times our conversation ended in “I don’t have to answer your questions” or “I don’t have to put up with this” and three times I convinced her husband to put her back on.

When she refused to talk to me for good, I let Dr. X know that the problem was on his end and if I hear from him again it would be regarded as libelous. It nearly ended there but not quite. “Dr. Morris, Dr. X’s lawyer is on the phone” I was told. Uh, oh, I thought, I pushed a little too hard. Not so. “I think you misunderstood my client. He was only trying to find out what was going on.” I told him there was no misunderstanding. Dr. X was crystal clear. If he wants answers, they will have to come from his wife. It did end there. We never heard back from Dr. and Mrs. X. More than anything though, I would like to know who the mystery caller was.

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