What Happens When Non-Veterinarians Perform Surgery on Animals?
One of my friends recently pointed out this article about a woman who performed surgery (a C-section) on a dog without anesthesia. Besides using no anesthesia, this woman allegedly used glue to close the resulting incision; not surgical glue but non-sterile glue of an undisclosed type. My friend wanted to know what my reaction to a story like this might be.
Needless to say, my reaction is one of horror. Horror that a dog would be put through this type of procedure without the benefit of anesthesia, or presumably any type of pain control medication. I can only imagine the pain and fear that this dog must have felt while this was happening.
Obviously, under these circumstances, the "surgery" likely wasn't conducted in a sterile manner either. Sterility is essential for any surgery but most especially for one that involves entering the abdominal cavity, as a C-section does. Gluing the incision closed was not a good decision either, for a variety of different reasons. I have to question whether the woman who performed this “surgery” had the necessary abilities to successfully complete it.
According to the article, the woman who performed the "surgery" is a breeder. The article stated that she successfully helped the dog deliver 12 puppies prior to proceeding to the C-section. "It was when the dog had trouble delivering her last two puppies that (she) decided to open the dog up, without anesthesia."
I don't pretend to understand the thought process behind performing this type of surgery at home without anesthesia instead of advising this dog's owner to transport the dog to a veterinarian that could perform the procedure properly. Perhaps there were mitigating circumstances of which we are unaware. Perhaps there was no veterinarian available. Perhaps the dog's owner did not have the funds to seek veterinary help, though she apparently did attempt to take the dog to a veterinarian after the fact. Unfortunately, by then, it was too late and the dog passed away in the car on the way to the hospital.
I am willing to at least consider that this breeder's intentions were good. I'm willing to believe that maybe she thought the dog was already too far gone to save and tried to save the puppies instead. However, despite good intentions (if they did exist), there was obviously a serious lapse in judgment that lead this breeder to believe that she could or should attempt to perform this C-section. It's quite obvious to me, as I believe (or at least hope) it would be to most people, that attempting this type of home surgery was unacceptable and inhumane.
Should the breeder be charged criminally? I'm not a lawyer so I'll let those with legal minds answer that question. I do feel though that our actions have consequences, and that they should have consequences. The same is true in this case. Good intentions or no, this was an unspeakable act that caused unnecessary pain and suffering for the dog involved. It’s not inconceivable that this “surgery” led directly to this dog’s death and that the outcome might have been much different if other choices had been made.
Dr. Lorie Huston