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English bulldog dies during dental cleaning at North County hospital

Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 13:18:02-05

VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - A dog owner has a warning for other pet owners after her 5-year-old English Bulldog died during a dental cleaning at a Vista pet hospital.

"I just thought it was a routine visit," said Kristine Ortiz.

Ortiz's nightmare began two Tuesdays ago at Banfield Pet Hospital in Vista, after she brought Chesty in for a dental cleaning. Chesty is her emotional support dog. Ortiz, a medically retired Marine, lives with a rare and debilitating bone disease.

Ortiz got the call just before 3 in the afternoon.

"Just in shock. Kept thinking this is not my dog. Has to be a different dog," said a tearful Ortiz.

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It wasn't. She was told Chesty was dead.

"I was upset. I remember screaming ... I've had surgery six times since I got my dog, and she's been with me the whole time, so it was very emotional," said Ortiz.

Ortiz demanded an explanation.

"They told us he had an adverse reaction to the medicine and everything they were administering," said Ortiz.

That didn't make sense to Ortiz. Chesty, a healthy dog, had been put under during two previous cleanings and never had any issues. She hired her own expert to conduct a necropsy and received a report, which concluded it was not an adverse reaction that killed Chesty, but a slow suffocation.

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"The report says over a period of six hours, slowly his throat was closing," said Ortiz.

Chesty's death is not the only one when it comes to Banfield and dental cleanings. An internet search shows complaints of deadly dental cases across the country. Ortiz is considering legal action to force changes in policy.

"Him going out like that, no animal should experience that ... It makes me scared for other people," said Ortiz.

A spokesperson for Banfield Pet Hospital issued the following statement:

Our hearts go out to Chesty’s family during this difficult time. As a practice full of pet lovers and owners ourselves, we understand how painful it is to lose a beloved pet and are also devastated by this outcome. At Banfield, the health, safety and well-being of pets is our top priority, and we are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, compassionate care. We remain committed to working directly with Chesty’s family to provide clarity, address concerns, and do what we can to help make this situation even slightly more bearable for them ... Just as in human medicine, anesthesia always carries risks. To minimize those risks, Banfield’s protocols include pre-anesthetic screenings of all patients prior to undergoing anesthesia. This includes bloodwork, medical history review, physical exam and other as-needed diagnostics specific to an individual patient’s needs. Pets are also carefully monitored before, during and after anesthetic procedures to enable faster interventions in the event issues arise.