CERF Fiasco... opinions needed - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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CERF Fiasco... opinions needed

What a horrible waste of time this morning turned out to be. I brought the boys to have their eyes examined (CERF for Jersey, just a regular exam for Oz) at a health clinic run by a rescue about 1.5 hours away. I am now trying to get them squeezed in to another clinic next week (fingers crossed there's appointment times open that won't conflict with my agility runs). I've written a letter to the person who organized the event and wanted your opinions on it. Also, I was wondering if anyone knows whether there is a specific veterinary board I should bring my complaints to should our follow up exam reveal this vet's incompetence (as I believe it will). Thanks!

Here's the email:
I regret having to write you under these circumstances but after driving 3 hours round trip for an examination that I can not submit to CERF, I feel that something must be said. I am the person who arrived at 9:00am with two dogs. I greatly appreciated the offer to arrive early and avoid a long wait time. Unfortunately, everything from that point on turned out to be a huge disappointment.

First the doctor began by examining my golden retriever. Everything started off as I would expect from this type of examination. When the doctor switched to the small hand-held round lens, he began to complain about the lighting in the room. I have never (with a dog or a human) seen a light on in the room during an examination outside of the lights specifically designed to illuminate the eye for exam. He tried examining my dog under multiple varied conditions: light off/door closed, light off/door open to various degrees and with the lights on. Finally he sent his wife out into the building to ask if anyone had some sort of lamp he could use. In the meantime he decided to begin with my mixed dog. He apparently felt at this time that he could see well enough and completed the examination.

Then he decided to go back to my golden retriever. He commented that his eyes must not have been fully dialated when he had looked the first time and that he could see better now. I was shocked. I would expect a certified specialist to be able to tell if the dog's eyes are dialated appropriately. But I gave the benefit of the doubt and said nothing. Apparently, the doctor felt he could sufficiently see well enough to consider the examinations complete and filled out both papers as normal. I expressed my surprise as my Golden Retriever has been noted to have an iris cyst in one eye on his last two CERF exams. The doctor responded in a rude and condescending tone, "Well I don't see one," without taking another look. At this point, I was tired of watching the man struggle and no longer had faith in his competence to assess my dogs, so I declined to argue.

While driving home I remembered that last year, following the examination, I was able to plainly see the iris cyst with my naked eye while the eyes were still dialated. As soon as was feasible, I put him in good sunlight and took a peek. There it was, clear as day to the naked eye. I have attached to this email 2 pictures that clearly show the artifact in his right eye. It is in the same eye, in the same place and is roughly the same size as I observed it to be last year and the year before (both with the aide of the doctor's lens and without). I have little doubt that his cyst is still present. So what I am left with is a worthless piece of paper that I can not in good faith submit to CERF for clearance. I will now need to take him to another clinic, with another doctor, to have the examination redone. This is a dog who may sire a litter in the near future. Although an iris cyst is a breeder's option for CERF in Golden Retrievers, it has some level of correlation with Pigmentary Uveitis which is a devestating disorder that is currently running rampant in the breed. A dog who is to be used for breeding must be carefully examined and cleared for this disorder by a competent specialist. Unfortunately, Dr. Harling was unable to provide that service today.

I am writing to strongly request that you do not deposit the check that I provided for these examinations. I have attached to this email photos taken while the eye was still dialated that clearly show the artifact in his right eye. I took pictures of the left eye as well that show no comparible artifact that would suggest this is an anatomical structure. I will send them as well if you request. I will gladly send you the original exam forms for both dogs so you can be certain they will not be submitted to the appropriate registries (which require originals, not copies, for cerficiation) if you so desire. I will also gladly provide the results of my follow up examinations to prove that I have sought further information from an ACVO certified vet if you wish. I regret that this will decrease the amount of money contributed to your rescue through this event, but I simply can not justify paying for this charade of an exam beyond the time spent and gas money already lost.
And here are the pictures that I mention:
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 03:23 PM
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Good grief Julie, that's terrible. I would definitely forward this letter ( with the follow-up exam report along with this original report) to AVCO. I bet they would have a regulatory body for complaints. So sorry you did that long drive for such shoddy, rude service.

Betty and the Dallas crew

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 03:35 PM
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I think you've handled it exactly the way you should have, and that letter is both forceful and fact-based without making any kind of nasty accusations.

Sorry that you got screwed like that.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 04:10 PM
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wow, just wow. How awful that you had to go thru that. Your letter is perfect.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 10:06 PM
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Good job. Wish we could say the same about that vet
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 12:49 AM
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Good letter. Only suggestion I would make is to move your refund request into the first paragraph and repeat it at the end. That will make them read the letter much more carefully. Something like "...turned out to be a disappointment and useless to me, so I am writing to request that you not cash my check, or make a refund."

Sorry your trip was a waste. I've done these clinics too, with my spaniel, and have wondered if the doctor was the best available.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 12:25 PM
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I think your letter is great - and more than justified. As you say, you are doing this exam so that your dogs don't pass along any health issues. This vet did not appear to be qualified, and who knows if any dogs there were given a pass who should not have received one.

Do send it - and please let us know what kind of reply you get.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 01:11 PM
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As this was a rescue conducting the clinic, I would not mention the potential breeding. Depending on the rescue, they may clue in on this sentence alone and miss the entire point of the email.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 01:12 PM
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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I sent the email yesterday afternoon. As of now, I still have not received a response. Who knows if they'll bother. I'll probably contact them again with the results of our next exam... though if they neglect to respond now, they'll probably ignore that too.

Originally Posted by SheetsSM View Post
As this was a rescue conducting the clinic, I would not mention the potential breeding. Depending on the rescue, they may clue in on this sentence alone and miss the entire point of the email.
I definitely see your point but surely the rescue has to be aware that most people getting CERF or OFA eye exams (both forms were offered) and/or OFA heart clearances by a cardiologist (the other service offered yesterday) are doing so to clear dogs for the purpose of breeding them. The health clinic was held in the middle of a conformation show.... with most of those dogs being past, present or future-hopeful breeding stock. To me, a rescue who has associated with breeding dogs in this fashion shows a desire to make sure that breeding is done properly by reputable breeders and that people do not turn to the backyard breeders and puppy mills that fill their foster homes with abandoned dogs. So I figured that my argument that the doctor could well have missed a devastating and likely heritable disorder would resonate with them. I could be wrong and perhaps my mention of breeding is part of the reason they've not bothered to respond to my email (though I imagine more of it is that they have no intention of refunding my money and wish to avoid an argument). But what's done is done.

Thanks everyone for your input. There's a clinic being held at the agility trial we are going to next weekend. I've contacted the person running it and am hoping to hear back that they have room to squeeze us in during the afternoon, after Jersey's runs. Fingers crossed!

Julie, Jersey and Oz

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