Dr. Carol Dugan of the Gayton Animal Hospital is not only the most wonderful veterinarian we have ever seen, she is one of the most amazing people we have ever known.
We met her early December 2009 when we were desperately looking for help with our cat Fiona. Fiona was ""diagnosed"" by her previous vet with possibly having lung cancer. She was hyperthyroid and had been extremely underweight for a long time. When her weight would take a dramatic drop, our previous vets had suggested feeding or force feeding baby food. But we never got any suggestions as to why her weight was so low (at her lowest she was 4.5 lbs, and she was an average sized cat.) Finding out more than ""it happens in hyperthyroid cats; just try to get her to eat more,"" would have saved her life.
When the cancer diagnosis came, the only option we were given by our previous vet was to put her to sleep. Not acceptable. She was still alive so there must be something we could find. We were told ""this is all there is left and if you don't put her to sleep, you're just being unbelievably cruel and we will not treat her any further."" Thank God for this inhumanity because it sent us straight into the wings of an angel!
We did a search for ""pet hospice care richmond va"" and found Gayton. I called and said I wanted someone to see if there was anything we might do but at least to provide the sort of hospice care that would let Fiona pass away comfortably in her own home. ""You definitely want Dr, Dugan,"" was the reply I got.
Since Fiona's passing away at this point was so clearly on the table, Dr. Dugan suggested we may as well ""throw the book"" at whatever she might have. Ultimately, Fiona passed away, in my arms, in the sunshine, in her own home. At every point we knew we were doing everything we could. We knew we explored every option, and we knew Fiona got the very best care possible. And we know as sure as I'm sitting here that if she had met Dr. Dugan a few years earlier, she would still be alive today.
Our most recent vet-necessary event was yesterday, when our diabetic cat, Cleo, went into an insulin shock crisis. She was literally and obviously dying when we called Dr. Dugan. No holding, no call-back. I said that we had an emergency and Dr. Dugan was on the phone seconds later, calmly telling us exactly what we needed to do. The long and short of what transpired over the next 19 hours was that Dr. Dugan had never seen a living cat with blood sugar as low as Cleo's and that the top-of-mind options available to us were out of our budget. We assumed that putting her to sleep was our only recourse (from past vet experiences), but alternative options were presented and Cleo is alive and home because Dr. Carol Dugan saved her life.
While we were still in the thick of the crisis, I told several family members that ""I'm scared to death but I know that Cleo is safely surrounded by the wings of an angel and that everything will be fine, however it comes out. If she's going to pull through, there is no where else she could possibly get better care. If she is going to die, there is no one who could help her make the transition more comfortably while still holding out for the potential of making it to the end.""
God bless Dr. Carol Dugan, everyone she loves, and everyone at the Gayton Animal Hospital! :-)
Pros: If you want an angel here on earth, you have found her!
Cons: We didn't know her soon enough to save Fiona