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Can I sue the vet that mistreated my guinea pig?

Asked by user in California.

We took our guinea pig to the vet for a wiggly tooth. It wasn't our regular vet since they were fully booked. The vet looked and told us that since she is in pain, the tooth needs to be removed. I asked what the process is, and he said that we would have to leave her there. He said it was a very simple procedure where they put her to sleep, take the tooth out and in 2 weeks she grows it back.

When the procedure was done, we went to pick her up and she was wet. They said she got wet, so we brought her home and a few days later she died. I called and told them she died and asked what happened. I asked what they did to her at the time of the procedure. One of the associates I talked to said that guinea pigs do not tolerate anesthesia well. I was not told this at the time of the appointment.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

First off, I'm so sorry for the loss of your guinea pig. It does sound as though something might have gone awry with the procedure. I'm not a veterinarian, so I wouldn't be able to say whether the vet you used met the standards of reasonable care. However, you should have been informed of the risks before the procedure so that you could make a well-reasoned decision by weighing the benefits and risks.

As far as suing the vet is concerned, if it turns out that the vet was negligent in caring for your pet, you could recover the costs you paid for treatment, along with the replacement cost for a new guinea pig. Depending on the cost of the surgery and where you live, its possible that it would make most sense to file this in small claims court (you can see requirements for small claims court here).

If you believe malpractice or negligence occurred, you can also contact the licensing board in California for veterinary medicine and file a complaint. It won't help you directly, but it would provide valuable information so that others can be protected from similar harm.

If you're still wanting to explore other legal options, you can contact a personal injury lawyer to get additional advice.

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