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Family speaks out after dying dog refused treatment at animal hospital

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A west Michigan family is grieving and looking for answers after their beloved pet suddenly died. 

Marley, a one year old German Shepherd, got spayed Friday.

But something went wrong with the operation.

The dog's family took Marley to an animal emergency room, but they say the E.R. refused to treat the dog.

The family reached out to Newschannel 3 hoping other pet owners don't have to go through the heartbreak they've experienced.

Keri Kellogg-Hill and her husband got Marley to celebrate their wedding.

"She was very sweet, but she was also playful, very protective of me and my husband," Kellogg-Hill said. 

Now a year old, they decided it was time to have her fixed.

Marley had the operation at their veterinarians office Friday but something went wrong.

"My husband called said she had started dry heaving and when she did, she started bleeding," Kellogg-Hill said. 

They rushed Marley to an animal emergency hospital and found out she was bleeding internally.
    
The medical staff needed to do surgery to discover where the blood was coming from.

The family was told it would cost more than $1,700 just to find out what was wrong.

They applied for a credit card but were denied.

They were also turned down for a payment plan.

Kellogg-Hill said the hospital told them there was nothing else they could do without the proper funds.

"The vet assistant said she had about a 50/50 chance," Kellogg-Hill said. 

Without anywhere else to go until morning, the couple took Marley home.

"My husband tried to do compressions on her chest, but we knew that wasn't going to work and that she was gone. Just disbelief that this would happen and someone would let this happen," Kellogg-Hill said.

Kellogg-Hill said she wants to help other pet owners, who may not be aware help isn't always available.

Her story's drawn support from several people on Facebook, some pushing for a law to be passed giving pets the same emergency rights as their owners.

In the meantime, Kellogg-Hill has an important reminder for other families.

"First, have an emergency fund.  But most of all, the thing I keep going back to is our vet didn't have someone on call. I would never again have a vet that doesn't do their own emergency work. We keep expecting her to come into the room, its really sad to be in that position," Kellogg-Hill said. 

The Southwest Michigan Annual Emergency Hospital sent a statement.

"We are very sorry to have learned of the passing of Ms. Kellogg's pet.  We also understand the strong emotional reaction many have had to her story.  Over the years we have provided care to thousands of animals and we are committed to operating an ethically responsible and compassionate emergency practice.

At the same time, the costs of care - particularly the costs of complex medical, intensive care and surgical procedures - force pet owners and caregivers alike into impossible, heartbreaking situations every day.  We did everything we could for Ms. Kellogg's dog up to the point of initiating a risky and complex exploratory surgery that would have cost thousands with no assurance of payment.  As a small business, we simply could not stay open if we did these kinds of procedures.

Our hospital provides a vital service to the community and we care very deeply about our patients and their families.  But we simply could not continue to provide these services to our community if we did not have policies that reflect financial realities of emergency animal care.  We have a very caring, compassionate and dedicated staff, each of whom has chosen emergency medicine as their life's work because of their love of animals and their commitment to doing the best they can to help the pets in our community.

We have a limited staff, and like everyone else, only so many hours in our day (and night).  As a result, our focus needs to be on our patients and we will have no other comment on this topic."

Newschannel 3 reached out the Animal Clinic in Kalamazoo, where Marley got spayed, but has yet to hear back.