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Derry dog owner files suit against veterinary care clinic

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 20. 2018 9:17PM
Dr. Deborah Kelloway 



A Derry pet owner has filed a lawsuit against the owner of Advanced Veterinary Care clinic, blaming the pet emergency-room clinic for the 2016 death of her schnauzer, which she had brought to the office with a tooth infection.

The suit focuses on AVC and its owner — Dr. Deborah Kelloway — who underwent two days of hearings before the New Hampshire Board of Veterinary Medicine in February. Complaints included her controversial practice of prodding owners to surrender their pets if they cannot afford their care.

Seven months after the board concluded its hearing, it has yet to rule on the complaints.

The lawsuit was filed by Jill Gorski. According to the suit, she brought her dog Chester to the Concord AVC clinic to have a top right tooth examined. Kelloway had 26 teeth removed, but none were infected, the suit said.

Gorski returned to the clinic to have the infected tooth treated, and her dog died while a different veterinarian tried to remove it surgically, the suit claims.

In an interview, Gorski, 51, said she obtained Chester in 2004 as an emotional support animal. “That dog was with me 24-7 — all the time,” she said. Her aging mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, still inquires about Chester, said Gorski.

The suit was filed Sept. 6. Earlier this week, Kelloway said she had not received a copy, but Gorski’s lawyer had sent demand letters in the past.

“It’s just incredible harassment,” Kelloway said.

Kelloway said she warned Gorski about the risks of anesthesia and trying to remove the dog’s tooth. “Who’s to blame? Does anybody need to be blamed?” she said.

Gorski’s lawyer, Michael J. Reed of Manchester, is seeking class action status on the suit, hoping to represent all owners who have seen their pets die or injured at AVC over the last three years. Gorski said 33 pet owners are poised to join the suit.

Kelloway said the suit comes as she is struggling financially. Publicity from earlier this year caused her to lay off four workers and reduce the Concord AVC to weekends. The Manchester office remains open.

“This is not like it had no consequences; it’s huge,” Kelloway said. If her insurance rates rise because of a judgment, AVC will have to increase its fees, she said. AVC posts its prices, and Kelloway claims she charges less than other clinics which she said are being acquired by corporations.

She said some pet owners come to AVC, criticize her based on the news coverage, but then ask for AVC care because of her prices. She has claimed that the Veterinary Board’s actions are to force a cost-cutter out of business.

The New Hampshire Union Leader was unable to get an explanation for the lengthy delay in a decision. The president of the board, David Stowe, did not return an email inquiry.

The administrative secretary of the Veterinary Board, Kim Lavoie, said in an email that the matter is still pending.

Both Gorski and Kelloway expressed displeasure with how long they've waited for a resolution.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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