‘My Best Friend Is Dead’: LI Man Sues Vet After Dog Dies
A consumer fraud lawsuit alleges Patchogue Animal Hospital used unlicensed staff who fatally administered medicine to a dog in 2020.
William Watkins is suing a Suffolk veterinary practice after his dog, Taro, died in 2020. (Susan Chana Lask)
PATCHOGUE, NY—A Long Island man was left “heartbroken” when he brought his beloved 8-year-old dog to a veterinarian for what he thought would be a routine ear infection visit, only for the visit to ultimately lead to the dog’s death, he says.
William Watkins filed a class-action consumer fraud lawsuit this week in Suffolk County Supreme Court, alleging that the vet, Eva Armfield of Patchogue Animal Hospital, defrauded pet owners by using unlicensed employees to administer medicine to pets.
The lawsuit claims Armfield “for years illegally operated on and anesthetized companion animals without using licensed vet technicians or a veterinarian to oversee the procedures.”
In August 2020, Watkins brought Taro, a female blue nose terrier, to the animal hospital at 214 Medford Ave. in Patchogue for an ear infection. Hours later, Watkins and his attorney Susan Chana Lask say, two employees carried the dog’s “unconscious and paralyzed body” back to him, and according to the complaint, didn’t pursue any additional testing or treatment to help save the dog’s life.
Lask, who has her own law firm based in New York City, writes that Armfield “paid minimum wage to young 20-year-old secretaries to perform [veterinary] procedures, including dentals while animals were under anesthesia, monitor vitals and dispense medications, in addition to being forced to rake leaves on Dr. Armfield’s lawn and babysit her children during work hours.”
“Dr. Armfield was too cheap to pay for licensed vet techs as required by law, causing companion animals to suffer and die and destroying their owner’s lives, whom she also billed for her unlawful operation that should be shut down,” Lask said.
Lask also alleges that after the New York Post ran a story on Watkins’ lawsuit last week, Patchogue Animal Hospital took down a page on its website advertising licensed veterinary technicians that Lask says was a fictitious and fraudulent claim.
The lawsuit alleges that employees of the clinic stated after Taros’ death that:
“Defendants do not hire licensed technicians for the procedures Defendants advertise andconduct; Defendants employees are assistants/receptionists who share every responsibility in the hospital, but are not certified, not experienced in vet medicine nor have they completed courses in animal health or science; Defendants allow all employees to distribute medications, monitor surgeries, take x-rays, perform dentals while animals are under anesthesia and monitor anesthesia and other life support monitors, with no experience or training, and without oversight from a licensed veterinarian; During euthanasia procedures, Defendants do not allow the sedation to fully take effect before injecting Euthasol (the drug that shuts down the heart, organs and bodily functions) causing the animal to go into distress during their final moments; and Defendants do not properly train employees and have them perform extremely dangerous procedures on animals under sedation without being licensed to do so.”
Lask told Patch she has been informed by numerous ex-employees of Armfield of a host of disturbing behavior at the clinic, including a cat being left to die alone and employees being forced to scrub plastic pill bottles of labels for illicit reuse.
The lawsuit includes an independent veterinarian’s assessment of the medications prescribed to Watkins’ dog, saying they were “medically inappropriate.”
“Taro went in for an ear infection, and Dr. Armfield returned her to me paralyzed, then refused to help me or Taro until Taro died. My best friend is dead, and I’m forever heart-broken because of Armfield’s horrendous mistreatment,” Watkins says.
Dr. Armfield did not reply to requests for comment.
Watkins and his attorney say they hope this lawsuit ensures Armfield’s practice gets shut down, so no additional animals are harmed.
BY: Jacqueline Sweet, Patch Staff
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Posted Thu, Jan 27, 2022 at 4:09 pm ET
Updated Thu, Jan 27, 2022 at 9:00 pm ET