Muni, owned by 52 year old Stephen Scarlett of Mission Beach, had the wrong rear leg amputated by a Tully vet. Picture: Brian Cassey
Muni, owned by 52 year old Stephen Scarlett of Mission Beach, had the wrong rear leg amputated by a Tully vet. Picture: Brian Cassey

‘Deplorable’ insurer writes off puppy

A NINE-month-old puppy has been "written off", with an insurance company offering a settlement of $5000 for a botched operation where a vet amputated the wrong leg.

The far north Queensland vet has admitted the bungle, apologised and waived the fees - but the insurance company has told the devastated owner it will not cover ongoing medical costs.

In a letter, Guild Insurance stated: "While this might sound harsh, legally you are only entitled to the reasonable costs of treatment and/or the cost of purchasing a replacement dog, if treatment costs are higher."

Muni was just seven months old when she went under the knife at Tropical Veterinary Services in Cairns in April for a badly injured leg to be removed.

Owner Steve Scarlett was horrified to find an unmarked X-ray had resulted in the wrong hind leg being cut off.

Mr Scarlett says he has been quoted up to $60,000 - just for a prosthetic leg - and that he won't accept the offer of $5000 compensation, vowing to fight.

"I'm not going to stop at anything, I'm not going to give up on her," he said.

"She was my light when I lost my leg, so I'm not going to roll over on anything.

"It's deplorable … pets are family members, not commodities."

 

Mr Scarlett says he has been quoted up to $60,000 – just for a prosthetic leg – and that he won’t accept the insurer’s offer of $5000 compensation.
Mr Scarlett says he has been quoted up to $60,000 – just for a prosthetic leg – and that he won’t accept the insurer’s offer of $5000 compensation.

Mr Scarlett said the jack russell cross was stressed and had lost weight.

He said she would need rehab, ongoing vet costs, and even in a few years may need a hip replacement.

"I can't quantify it … how do you fix a broken heart?" he said.

Mr Scarlett said he was working with SSS prosthetics in Cairns, a 3D specialist canine printer company in the UK and a specialist vet in Brisbane to get Muni a new leg.

"We can't do too many operations close to each other as the risk of anaesthetic toxication and being a very young dog … Muni may not handle that too well as she's had three major surgeries of late," he said.

A Guild Insurance spokesman said the company was bound by the legal parameters it must operate within.

He said he could confirm Guild had accepted responsibility for the surgical error on behalf of its insured vet as, given the facts, there was no doubt that a mistake had occurred.

"The only issue that remains unresolved is the amount of compensation due to Steve and Muni," he said.

"Guild has made an offer that we believe represents a fair settlement amount based on Steve's legal entitlements; however, his expectations are significantly higher.

"Unfortunately, the gap between his expectations and his legal entitlements is so vast that it seems inevitable that a court may have to determine the outcome."

The spokesman said Guild hoped for a settlement so "both Steve and the vet staff involved" can "heal and move on from this tragic incident".