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Chatoak Pet Medical Center CA is the Worst Animal Hospital Veterinarian Care Ever

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by callitawrap

callitawrap's picture
In My Life

Pet Medical Center (aka Chatoak) in Granada Hills (CA) has to be the worst veterinarian care ever, the most horrible animal veterinary facility in existence. Had an unbelievable experience where the (quote) animal hospital allowed a dog to die rather than treat the animal injured by a car. I am absolutely disgusted by the (lack of) level of care and concern by who are supposed to be doctors. Chatoak is the equivalent of County USC Medical Hospital for pets - except that, at some point, a person at the county hospital might actually get some treatment or care.
If you want to have a traumatic experience (or two) Chatoak Pet Medical Center is the place to go, for things you'd like to forget but can't. I've unfortunately had firsthand experiences with the "veterinary care" at what calls itself a 'hospital' - and it's bad, bad, bad. It doesn't get worse. If two experiences aren't enough, with one as an owner and one not as owner, nothing could be more indicative of how this place is the worst any pet lover could visit.
Supposedly, Chatoak offers emergency services for animals that run from early morning hours until midnight. In fact the Chatoak Pet Medical Center website specifcally tells users "it's important to get treatment for your dog or cat right away," listing emergencies like a "serious accident or hit by a car" as the very first reason to seek immediate veterinary care with their supposed emergency services. Any pet owner who truly cares about animals should consider those hours and that statement meaningless, since you just may be better off with having an animal die in your own arms. At least you care.
According to the Chatoak Pet Medical Center website: "Our most important goal is providing excellent veterinary medical care for the dogs and cats in our neighborhood. We take that responsibility seriously." No, they apparently don't take that responsibility seriously. In fact it doesn't seem there's any responsibility at all at the animal hospital.
After witnessing a man lying in the street with his dog after the Staffordshire Terrier had been accidentally hit by another driver, two of us loaded both the injured pit bull and owner into our car and drove them to Chatoak as fast as possible. Unfortunately it was the only animal hospital or veterinary care available on a Sunday.
We even phoned Chatoak Pet Medical Center, literally while in transit and driving, notifying what is supposedly a critical emergency clinic (yes, that's what they dub themselves on their very own website) that we were transporting a severe trauma and would be pulling into the hospital's driveway within minutes. Location, the severity of the accident and even the dog's breed were all provided to the animal hospital's staff. That call meant nothing. No one at Chatoak could be bothered. More than 5 minutes later on arrival, after pulling the car straight in front of their double doors so it was clearly visible that we were at the hospital and there for a serious emergency, not only was no staff in the parking lot (or even near the parking lot, which literally abuts the front glass doors) but no staff was around period. It wasn't like the place was busy. There was literally no other patients. Literally running into the lobby and stating there was a bad emergency, that we needed help for a dog involved in a car accident, only received a snarky reply from someone that it would have to be a minute.
While one of was forced to run into the waiting room to ask for help and assistance with a profusely bleeding dog that weighed nearly 100 pounds, two people (one of which a woman) were trying to unload the severely injured pet while trying to ensure the animal wouldn't be hurt worse or injure its spine - an area commonly broken or hurt in car-related accidents. It was a matter of life and death, and if Chatoak didn't help ensure it was death through treatment, it certainly wasn't helping any possibility by actually acting like an emergency hospital that supposedly offers critical veterinary care.
No doctor for humans could ever treat a person this badly. There is no worse level of care possible, nothing that could be more horrible.
Dr. Slessinger should retire, that's the long and short of it, despite his only being at Chatoak for roughly a year since 2010. He told a devastated 20-year-old first that his dog had a heartbeat, then looked at him and apparently ascertained the young man would probably not be able to foot a bill, so followed that statement (one sentence later) with the thought that the dog was probably almost gone anyway. Basically, the gist, after asking if the young man was going to permit any bill necessary to apply - and getting a panicked look from a young man who didn't unethically choose to simply lie about available funds for care - was that the doctor wasn't going to treat.
This all occurred after people had rushed a still-breathing animal into a supposed emergency vet that's supposed to have skilled veterinarians on staff. Meanwhile, a young man was begging the doctor whether he could do anything, after the vet had first indicated something could be done and given hope by stating the dog had a heartbeat. Obviously he just let the dog die. And what made this one of the worst experiences of a lifetime only got worse yet when I ran across this - which indicates that Chatoak Pet Medical Center is accepting non tax-deductible 'contributions' in the name of a former staff member named Eric Flesher. What are those donated funds for? The Eric Flesher fund is touted by Chatoak as for "animals that hurt and don't have the funds to help them." The dying dog we took into Chatoak certainly fit into that category. So while Chatoak will accept money as contributions, at least one vet apparently can't be bothered by distribution - in the most severe case of a hurting animal that could benefit.
According to blog updates, the last animal that was cared for in accordance with that fund was in March 2011, over 7 months ago. All of those stories on the Eric Flesher fund - for which Chatoak receives straight contributions made out to the animal hospital - refer to how the veterinarian on staff informed the client of this money available. It's interesting that Chatoak would tout this fund and be accepting money as supposed contributions, which in turn furthers its reputation, but in a critical emergency of life and death, a vet at Pet Medical Center would instead simply allow a severely injured dog to die.
Maybe some vets at Chatoak offer an alternative of the Erik Flesher fund, but apparently Dr Slessinger had no interest.
Of course a business has to make money and cover costs. Pet owners can't expect things for free and have to realize fully that there's a fair price for treatment that's deserved for work - but the manner in which this dying dog was handled was absolutely disgusting. The vet didn't even bother offering to euthanize an animal clearly in pain and that he also simply wasn't treating. If a dog is seriously in that bad of condition that you're unable to save it's life, then there's obviously a need to also put it out of its pain in a humane manner. There couldn't be any worse or inhumane treatment for a pet than allowing it to suffer. Maybe Slessinger assumed the young man couldn't afford the euthanization cost and figured the dog would eventually die on its own. The vet didn't even ask or provide euthanization as an option - and there's no way this young man would have allowed his pet of five years to suffer. Had the owner not been in terrible shock as all of us were, he surely would've realized. But all of us were so intent on trying to save the dog's life that it didn't occur to us that the animal should maybe instead be put down. It's the duty of someone in veterinary care to ensure that an animal is not enduring horrible pain or treated inhumanely.
Dr Slessinger apparently never should've gone into any profession of caring for animal or human life. Heartless. He just insinuated the young man wouldn't be able to afford the bill, then stood by a pet that was literally dying and did nothing to help the dog that had to have been in excruciating pain while bleeding profusely from the mouth. The treatment at Chatoak is just gross if not inhumane.
The Chatoak online profile for doctor Slessinger, who was the only vet on staff that day, indicates he treats cats. The "doctor" should apparently stick to that, if in fact he does actually treat them. He apparently does nothing for dogs. And nothing for humans. Allowing the dog to die on the table (not bothering to euthanize either), Dr Slessinger didn't even have the decency to even come out into a waiting room after, instead putting it on the poor receptionist to then tell the young man (who had no wallet because of the accident) that he owed $90 for a disposal fee for the body. Having coincidentally been at Chatoak Pet Medical Center several months prior (and deciding to never go back for other reasons), we went in to talk to staff while a sobbing young man sat outside on the pavement. After essentially refusing to treat the dying dog, the place was now simply demanding money immediately after doing nothing; no one at Chatoak bothered telling the young boy that for just $25 additional he could have his pet, that had been given to him for his 15th birthday five years prior, cremated. But the place was sure to insist that he needed to get back through its doors in order to sign an additional demand for the $90 payment that it claimed it would have to pay to the city.
The Chatoak receptionist talked to the veterinary doctor at our insistence of a resolution over the money being demanded at that moment, since the 20-year-old young man was in horrible shock and clearly unable to even think. There we all were, soaked in blood from trying to help, the young man's dog just having died--and the vet still never even came to the front to offer a simple "sorry" or even pretend to have a look of sorrow. But that would've only been possible if the veterinarian had even bothered to come to the front period. The lack of energy or warmth of this place is just creepy. And, with three of us literally soaked in blood and a car covered in blood right outside of its front doors, no one even bothered to ask us if we needed even a paper towel to at least get the blood of our arms or faces. The best Pet Medical Center staff could apparently do was to bring a spray bottle to wipe up the blood off its own front lobby and waiting room area. We weren't even offered a bathroom. We weren't even asked if we were ok - while three of us really weren't all that ok, and one of us was clearly in a horrible shock and nowhere close to ok.
Demanding money immediately after refusing to treat may have gone slightly better had the vet even had the simple decency to come out and say he was sorry for the loss. But there apparently wasn't any heartfelt 'sorry'. Dr Slessinger told the receptionist only that she needed to get a 2nd signature from the young man that he was going to pay them the $90 for a city disposal fee of his pit bull (since it obviously realized it would need that if it wanted to send him to collections over the dog's dead body that died in their care while they did nothing). It was horrible. The young man was extremely ethical and said he had some bills in his pocket he could leave as a deposit that day (to her credit, the embarrassed receptionist said that wasn't necessary but that the facility would need payment in full within 7 days) but could not pay the whole disposal fee without his wallet on him. The hospital had done absolutely zero, hadn't told him anything about any charge when arriving and simply sprung it on him within moments after his dog dying and no vet doing anything to even help. The vet never even bothered telling the young man that he had an option of ashes as a remembrance. Having recently had to deal with the loss of a pet, we knew a cremation was not that much more costly and that Cal Pets crematory service would go to the hospital the next day for free pick-up and cremate for about $115. The animal hospital didn't even bother to offer the owner the dog's collar with tags. We had to ask twice on his behalf, simply to obtain the pet's collar for the young man. There's not an ounce of common courtesy or humane action on the part of Chatoak.
While Dr Slessinger apparently preferred to communicate through the receptionist rather than ever having the guts or decency to come to the waiting room (despite the fact the place was empty; he wasn't with another client), all he cared about was the money and an additional promisory on top of the owner's first signature. We weren't simply going to leave without the common courtesy of notifying the hospital what was occurring (and despite its complete lack of common courtesy), but also weren't going to have a heartless doctor harrass a kid who was in severe shock and sobbing at their door. At our insistence, we told the hospital we were driving the young man who was still soaked from head to toe in blood, home and that he would call in an hour to provide a decision about his dog's remains. It would've been nice had the hospital told the owner about cremation options rather than just notifying him that he owed a bill to essentially ditch the body, as it seemed.
What may be even more alarming about Chatoak (if there is something more alarming or disgusting) is the fact that, if there was nothing to be done, the veterinarian didn't even offer to put the dog out of pain by euthanizing the pet. The reason is unknown. Maybe Slessinger thought the young man couldn't afford it, but it's simply cruel and disgusting. No animal should be treated in such a foul and heartless manner. My hope is that the animal hospital didn't allow the dog that was still breathing to actually die in pain, which is unknown because the vet chased everyone out of the examination room. By the way, that all occurred after staff simply stood by while watching us carry a 100-lb animal and never even offering to help in any way. This place is just beyond horrendous.
After everything Chatoak did-and didn't do-it was absolutely despicable that the place wouldn't even bring up the fact that the body could be cremated. All the 'vet' was concerned about was grabbing money for dumping the body. Despicable.
Separately, I had been at Chatoak Pet Medical Center months prior with a cat - and would never have gone back had it not been for seeing any emergency happen, and not being aware of any other vet open in the Granada Hills (CA) area. We just didn't know the place was so terrible that it wouldn't treat a dying animal with an injury it couldn't help. Months ago, it was more than unnerving that the facility was treating and keeping a dog with a severe case of parvo, on the verge of dying. While proper veterinary care is the only slim shot of a dog with bad parvo having any chance to live, if you personally visit Chatoak Pet Medical, you immediately understand that the facility does not seem in line with one that maintains the level of cleanliness and sanitation required for caring for animals that have an extremely contagious (and deadly) illness. Had I found out the animal hospital was boarding a dog with parvo, and been bringing in a dog myself, I would've walked back out the doors based on the lobby alone.
Ironically I had taken a cat to Chatoak animal hospital who turned out to be having serious symptoms of diabetes or been in a diabetic shock. While the hospital's veterinary tech was nice, he definitely wasn't skilled. I kept mentioning that the cat's tongue had recently begun to creep out of his mouth on the drive to the emergency clinic, and that it seemed like a bad sign. The technician (who did seem like he had a heart of gold and good intent) proceeded to tell me that some cats occasionally put their tongue out. That's true, when they're relaxed. When they're instead acting like a bearskin rug with glassy eyes, it's not a good sign with symptoms.
The female vet on staff at the hospital wanted to run not only a blood test (at twice the price of who is known to be a good but expensive vet), plus a bunch of tests that included x-rays. What I know now, and what any vet should have known and seen the signs of immediately, the cat was near a coma with diabetes. Despite the very clear signs of diabetes, the vet never even referenced that diabetes was a main suspicion of the cause and symptoms. The vet suddenly wanted to perform at least one x-ray or more (at $200 each) and other tests, with the weird insistence that the cat's bladder might be missing. That's one of I've never heard after owning cats for over 30 years and having experience with animal care previoiusly - a missing bladder.
The hospital vet got very defensive when I asked what an x-ray would show. She wanted to perform all the tests at once and I suggested that maybe we could start with bloodwork which would come back immediately and possibly rule out other (seemingly bizarre scenarios) she was suggesting as ailments. I wasn't completely opposed to testing but couldn't figure out what an x-ray would show and the veterinarian didn't have an answer. That started to make me worried but then I hoped maybe she was just trying to be thorough, despite the fact that money really seemed like it could be the object.
We started with the blood test. Lo and behold, with one test immediately showed a skyrocketed glucose level. The other tests would've driven up the bill by another $600. After a four hundred dollar bill, the vet then wanted to keep the cat for 6 hrs until the a.m. (to the tune of an additional $800 plus another $600 in unnecessary tests - what would've been nearly $2000 for a matter of hours). The Chatoak vet also insisted on multiple shots of glucose plus fluids without ever monitoring for reaction from the cat.
While I don't believe the female vet on staff at Pet Medical Center (this place is run like a co-op for vets, with virtually never the same vet twice and only one doctor typically on staff at a time) was heartless like Dr Slessinger seemed, I also don't believe she had any level of expertise whatsoever - including a basic one. The veterinarian suddenly started saying things like "your cat could die," and said it should stay the night until we could rush it to the regular vet early in the morning. When I asked what the animal hospital would be doing during those short hours, I never got a straight answer of anything definitive at all. The most I gathered from the situation was that the vet would administer some IV fluids which could also be done by anyone skilled in animal care. When she found out we had that ability, she readily sent us home with fluids to be administered in huge amounts - which may instead have led to the cat's decline and excruciating hours throughout the night where he only worsened with her instructions.
What's really scary about this veterinary facility is that multiple reviews have indicated Chatoak vets readily sent them home with intravenous fluids and/or medications to administer. While I had experience within that area previously, the average pet owner does not - and the fact an animal hospital would routinely (or ever) do that, with having an unskilled person administer meds and IVs is just crazy and a reflection of just how bad this animal hospital seems to be.
By the way, those Yelp reviews for Pet Medical Center (which are now filtered and seem to have almost 30 hidden reviews that require keyword verification to be viewed, for those whom even know filtered reviews now exist), sure appear to include a number that seem to be written by Chatoak reps, an owner or related staff. There are numerous 1-star reviews for Chatoak on Yelp that don't immediately show because of the filter. But the reviews that talk about supposedly state-of-the-art or new diagnostic equipment, staff that always greets people with a smile, and these fabulous and caring vets clearly don't apply to Pet Medical Center. I haven't met all ten or so of the vets on staff, but the two I've had the 'pleasure' of interacting with don't match one iota of supposedly real descriptions Yelp displays. And if the online review that describes cats - supposedly previously scared of visiting a vet - as literally crawling right into Dr Slessinger's arms upon meeting him, can be described as real, then I'm apparently a terrible gambler.
The place looks like a wreck, and if there truly is high-end equipment it must be very-well hidden and maybe the doctors don't know about it either - because, through two experiences at Chatoak, there was never any reference to advanced techniques or fancy equipment. For the animal hospital's prices related to veterinary care, it should logically have the best in the nation - but I'd bet against serious equipment upgrades in the 5 years to decade.
The animal hospital ensures pet owners don't have any other option with astronomically high prices that very few could afford, no matter how much they love their pets.
It really wouldn't be surprising to find out that Chatoak pays its vets as independent contractors. At the least, the appearance is that veterinary care includes a commission percentage being doled out to the vet on staff. Commissions really seem to be the case after experiencing a quote (that had no quote, as in no paperwork, no indication of what would be performed, etc) that was sky high. I had asked how much it would cost, above the $400 already driven up, to keep the cat at the hospital for a matter of hours. The ensuing scenario felt like I'd entered a used car dealership, with all the wheeling and dealing. I assumed the vet was expecting a counter-offer, but I'd already made clear that a budget was not unlimited - so figured she would be providing the best possibility. When she gave the figure I nearly choked. It wasn't a possibility, and wouldn't be a possibility for most. What was most outrageous is that it didn't involve tests or procedures.
It feels like the animal hospital charges are a crap shoot, with the on-staff vet dealing to higher and higher prices in order to receive a bigger chunk of change. Each insulin shot was about $50. But when the vet promptly got out a calculator - when asked about the night's stay she was insisting on, and said the best she could do (to work with us, she indicated) was to charge an additional $800 for the duration of hours. To drive home her point, she then insisted again that the cat could die - while not outlining anything other than basic fluids. Not even the best vet in California charges nearly a thousand dollars for a matter of hours and simple fluid administration. Oddly, this price came about after she continued to ask questions to the degree of finding out that the cat was very special to us and had been in the family for years. I found out after that the heavy fluids and insulin shots administered probably led to the coma the cat was in by morning, when I rushed the cat to a proper vet and needed to be hospitalized for days after a bad reaction or overdose of insulin.
In hindsight, the indicator was when the tech asked whether the cat had pepped up after insulin administration. Not knowing anything at the time about diabetes and related insulin shots for diabetic cats (and Chatoak didn't exactly provide any additional information on the subject of care or even a basic primer), I didn't realize a cat should have more energy after stabilizing glucose - instead the animal hospital sent us out the door with a cat that actually looked worse after the insulin shots, but I had no frame of reference as to how the cat should have looked following supposed veterinary care. The vet should have known a bad reaction was occurring. We eventually lost the cat despite fantastic follow-up care, but the treatment from Pet Medical Center sent our pet into a horrible downward spiral that it was unable to recover from.
This place and standard of care at Chatoak in Granada Hills is absolutely frightening - the worst.
There are a lot of other vets. Take your dog or cat to any of them but Chatoak Pet Medical Center in California. It seems there are two locations of Pet Medical Center including one hospital in West Hills, California and one in Sunland, California. These issues all pertain to the Granada Hills, California address at:
Pet Medical Center - Chatoak
17659 Chatsworth Street
Granada Hills, CA 91344-5602
Telephone Number: (818) 363-7444
I've never visited or had a patient at West Hills Pet Medical Center but can only imagine it's on par with these two personal experiences that happened to fall only months apart. Even in an emergency, and even if you have nowhere else to go, don't expect Chatoak to do a thing. It's the worst "medical care" available for a pet. I don't want to see my pet treated inhumanely. And, frankly, feel strongly that Chatoak had already killed my cat. And now I witnesses the hospital kill a dog, refusing to offer any help - and refusing to even euthanize the animal to provide it some peace and release from pain.
All along, the Eric Flesher fund was supposedly (according to the Chatoak website) available for people in dire need. Since Chatoak veterinarians can apparently deem a surgery like a knee replacements (for a dog that doesn't yet have an owner or home, per the website's blog) as vital and necessary to draw from the Eric Flesher fund the hospital promotes, it's odd there doesn't appear to be a check and balance for true emergencies. It seems a bit strange to be paying your own staff veterinarians from funds that don't seem to have a check and balance of serious emergency priority.
Apparently Machete didn't live up to the needs of Chatoak. This animal hospital seems to work more toward the notion of dead animals than live ones.


Chatoak Pet Medical Center
17659 Chatsworth Street
Granada Hills, CA 91344-5602
United States
Phone: (818) 363-7444
34° 15' 53.6364" N, 118° 31' 10.2" W
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Average: 3.9 (7 votes)