Dog Breeders File Suit Over Canine’s Surgery

April 14, 2018 GMT

PLAINS TWP. — A pair of Harding breeders have filed suit against the Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital alleging doctors performed unnecessary surgery on their rare dog, killing 10 unborn puppies and costing them nearly half a million dollars in future revenue.

Karen and Michael Carroll filed a complaint Friday alleging veterinary Drs. Kirk Hassinger and Darrick Yamaguchi cost them about $450,000 in economic loss when they decided to perform surgery and remove the uterus and ovaries of their 3-year-old Portuguese water dog, identified in the complaint as Sea Dog Gifford Windy Nora.

Nora, who has a brown, wavy coat, was mated to a similar dog in 2015 in an effort to produce a litter of puppies with brown, wavy coats, according to the complaint filed by the Wilkes-Barre-based Anzalone Law Offices.

An X-ray confirmed Nora was with 11 puppies, each of which were reserved with deposits of $3,050, the complaint says.

But on Dec., 4 2015, Nora began panting and acting restlessly, according to the suit. The next day, she began having contractions that the Carrolls believed showed her water had broken, the complaint says.

After the contractions ended on Dec. 6, 2015, the Carrolls brought Nora to the Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital at 242 S. River St., where doctors noted she had a swollen abdomen and a dilated cervix, but no puppies in the birth canal, according to the complaint.

Yamaguchi told the Carrolls he was concerned the dog could have a ruptured uterus and that she would need surgery, the lawsuit says. The complaint says the Carrolls paid the deposit for the surgery, which they thought Hassinger was going to perform.

Instead, Yamaguchi did the surgery himself — purportedly with Hassinger supervising — and clamped the uterus despite finding that it had not ruptured, the complaint alleges. As a result, 10 of the 11 puppies Nora had been carrying died of oxygen deprivation, according to the complaint.

Yamaguchi then removed Nora’s ovaries and uterus in an effort to deliver the puppies, rendering her sterile, the complaint says.

The suit alleges the hospital deviated from the standard of care expected at veterinary hospitals — negligence that prevented Nora from delivering an estimated 140 more puppies over the course of her breeding years.

A message seeking comment left with the hospital Friday afternoon was not immediately returned.

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