Veteran suing clinic after therapy dog was seriously burned during emergency surgery
Posted January 11, 2018 12:12 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR — A local army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder said his therapy dog suffered from serious fourth-degree burns after an emergency surgery went horribly wrong. Now, the veteran is suing the clinic that performed the operation.
Eric McOmie and his wife Veronica said their dog Perry nearly died three times after complications with the Cornelius Veterinary Clinic. The couple said Perry is now doing OK, but that's after a long journey of recovery along with thousands of dollars in medical bills.
The McOmie's are now suing the clinic for malpractice, negligence and emotional distress. They're seeking more than $98,000.
Eric and his dog Perry seem to have an unbreakable connection. He said he was a sniper team leader in Afghanistan. When he finally returned home to Portland, he said he struggled with PTSD.
"Whenever she can sense I'm getting wound up or tense, she kind of gravitates and is my own little shadow," said Eric.
"She helped him progress so much and find himself again. When Perry was injured so gravely, I saw a direct effect on Eric," said Veronica.
Roughly one year ago, the couple said Perry got incredibly sick.
"She had eaten something that didn't agree," said Eric.
He said they rushed Perry to the veterinarian, who told them the dog needed emergency surgery. Eric said Perry got the necessary surgery at Cornelius Veterinary Clinic.
Eric said he was incredibly thankful. But soon after the surgery, he said it be became clear that Perry wasn't recovering. Then, the couple brought Perry back to the same vet.
"They emptied two liters of fluid from her abdomen and discovered her entire system was septic," Eric said.
The couple said the vets at the Cornelius clinic insisted Perry have immediate corrective surgery. Eric said Perry's entire body was severely inflamed and her intestines were balled up.
"Watching this animal be so confused about why she's in so much pain..." said Veronica.
Eric said the clinic admitted that Perry's serious complications stemmed from the first surgery.
"We had been told and prepped that she may not make it. We had to come to terms with that a second time," he said.
After two surgeries and a lot of stress, the couple said their traumatic experience with the clinic continued. Days later, Eric said he found burn marks on Perry.
"(I was) completely blindsided. I discovered it at the ICU. No one told me anything," he said.
Third and fourth-degree burns were found on the dog, according to Eric. The couple said in total, the burn marks span over sixteen inches. The burns penetrate deep tissue muscle, tendon and bone.
"She offers so much to us, so watching her go through this was torture," said Veronica.
The couple believes those burns came from the operating table during the second surgery.
"They owned up to the burn," said Eric.
The clinic told FOX 12 that they offered to take care of Perry at no charge but the McOmie's declined.
"I wasn't going to gamble again," said Eric.
"We're unbelievably lucky that she made it, she's a fighter," said Veronica.
The owner of Cornelius Veterinary Clinic said they were devastated that Perry was so badly hurt and that the operating table which most likely caused the burns has been removed. He also said they offered to help with medical bills but the McOmie's made excessive financial demands.
Here's the statement from Cornelius Veterinary Clinic:
"We saw the (McOmie's) on an emergency basis as a favor because Eric's parents were clients of the Cornelius Veterinary Clinic. Perry is a lovely dog and was an excellent patient who came to us with a life-threatening condition. I'm proud of our team, who stayed here into the late evening hours to successfully perform a life-saving surgery. The (McOmie's) were very happy with our clinic, even calling our surgeon a "rock star". We were devastated to learn several days later that Perry suffered a burn as a result of a malfunction from a heating element on our surgery table. We immediately offered to take care of Perry at no charge but unfortunately her owners declined our attempts to help and have continued to make excessive financial demands on our clinic and threated adverse media publicity if they are not met. They have now filed suit for an exorbitant amount of money. We have always put our patients' interests first and we will continue to focus on providing excellent medical care just as we have done for over 40 years."