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Legal guidance in cases of malpractice by a veterinarian.

Glen Burnie, MD |

We recently lost our dog through what we believe is medical malpractice on the part of the veterinarian. I took "Boaz's" remains to Maryland's Department of Agriculture so that we could get a necropsy. The pathologist called me yesterday and said that Boaz died from a severe case of peritinits because the suturing came loose and the stomach emptied into the extremities of his organs causing death from the poison. She is wrting a report that will sustantiate her findings and she desires to call the doctor to let him know about his, what she calls, "problematic surgical technique."
Can you give me some advice in terms of the direction I should go?

Attorney Answers 2


Veterinary Malpractice is definitely a cause of action, at least in some states. In the past courts were reluctant to recognize causes of action for vetrinary malpractice because pets are considered property and as such your damages would be limited to the value of the property. The law is evolving and some courts are compensating pet owners for the loss of companionship lost as a result of malpractice.

The elements of proof are the same as any negligence case. Duty, Breach, causation and damages. Maryland courts have weighed in on pet custody cases in the past. Perhaps they might recognize malpractice too.

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While veterinary malpractice is a valid cause of action, such suits are very expensive to litigate. It basically becomes a battle of the experts, with one side saying "this is standard procedure" and the other side saying "this is not standard procedure". In addition, the damages awarded are generally not very high unless what the vet did was truly shocking and outrageous. Finally, the vet’s attorney will probably allege that it was something you did in the after care of the animal that caused the sutures to come loose.

Short of litigation, you can file a complaint with the American Veterinary Medical Association,

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