The Lowdown on Panamanian Veterinarians So You Know What to Expect

This is a post from another expat on the lowdown on Panamanian veterinarians. She has devoted her time to saving animals (mostly dogs) by teaching Panamanians about spaying (sterilizing) their dogs.

She has found a veterinarian in Panama who knows what he’s doing, because as you can see, in typical Panamanian fashion, most Panamanian vets don’t know what they are doing & end up hurting or killing the dogs they touch.

Please support her by donating, adopting, or helping dogs you see that need your love & compassion.

Now onto Dottie’s post…

No, we can’t save them all – but absolute incompetence angers me to no end.

Thursday morning Jose and I were at Enilda Gonzales’ house. Enilda has a heart of gold, has adopted numerous dogs and cats, and she frequently brings animals to the clinic to be sterilized, even those that aren’t hers. She had called to say a dog of her neighbor had horrible problems with his ears. We de-fleaed the puppy, I told the woman how to treat the ears, and we signed up the puppy and her other dog for the April 22nd clinic.

While we were there, two people from Berard’s arrived and brought a dog that was in terrible condition. He was comatose but had his eyes open – not a good sign. He had been severely mauled by other dogs. He was barely breathing. He had puncture wounds and rips all over his body. Both ears were full of blood. Wounds were on both sides of him, and he even had bloody discharge from his anus.

They said that about the same time they saw the dog, the local male vet happened by. He gave the dog an injection for hypothermia and went on his merry way, leaving the dog lying in the dirt. The people then brought the dog to Enilda, knowing that she rescues a lot of animals.  I couldn’t reach Dr. Tello on the phone, so Jose and I brought the dog to my house. I gave him injections of antibiotics and for pain and shock. Then we gave him a warm bath, dried him carefully, wrapped him in blankets. I even put a heating pad on the top of the blanket. I had just gotten my stethoscope to see if his heart was still beating when he moved his leg a little bit. Eyes were still open but he was non-responsive. I came back inside to mix some honey with a little water to try to give it to him with a syringe. But by the time I got back outside, he had died. Again, my good friend Andrea Gonella had a grave prepared for him on his finca.

If this so-called “vet” wasn’t going to do anything to treat this dog, he should have put him down on the spot. (This is the same vet that gave a dog an injection of antibiotics after the dog had been hit by a car near Daily’s Restaurant, and then again just left the dog lying in the dirt. Someone posted, asking for a $25 donation to pay this “vet” for the injection. After I saw that post, I went to check on the dog. He had two broken hips and a broken back. He could barely drag himself using his front legs. An injection of antibiotics would help this??? Give me a break. He should also have put down this dog on the spot. I did arrange to get this particular dog to Dr. Tello at the border, who immediately confirmed the damage and put the dog down.

Another time, a friend and I rescued a big dog that had been hit by a car. She was lying in a ditch. She couldn’t walk. By the time we got her in my car, it was almost dark. Out of desperation, we took the dog to this man. He gave her an injection (don’t remember what, probably dexametasona) and said she would be fine. She wasn’t. I got her to Dr. Tello. Although she didn’t require surgery, he had to keep her rear end bandaged and supported for almost a month. She, now named Peggy Sue, had a long recovery period but she now lives happily and normally with Amanda Rankin.

(My friend Andrea has had experience with this man also. He killed one of Andrea’s dogs. After he spayed her, she eviscerated – all her intestines fell out because of improper and incompetent suturing. Now Andrea would not dream of having any kind of surgical procedure on any of his many dogs by anyone except Dr. Tello.)

I was so livid about this situation on Thursday that I called Patricia Chan (Spay Panama)  to vent. (She had told me a few months back that this same vet had the audacity to email her several times, asking if he could work with Spay Panama. She is well aware of his incompetence and never even answered his emails.) Patricia told me that there are incompetent vets in Panama City as well, who charge big bucks, and people keep taking their animals to them. Pat said she was puzzled, because after one visit, people should know the vet is incompetent. I disagreed with her about that. It’s only through my experience with the clinics and knowledge from Dr. Tello that I now know quite a bit about treating dogs – and can pretty quickly recognize incompetence. It’s not too surprising that a lot of people like this particular vet – he’s personable and has a good “bed-side manner.” Unfortunately, unless people have some animal/medical knowledge, just because a “vet” is “doing something” with their pet, they have no idea when it is not the CORRECT thing that is being done.

When I first moved here, I knew nothing about dogs. My first adopted dog was itching a lot and I took him to the woman vet. Three days in a row she gave him 2 injections subcutaneously and gave them in the same place each time. With the first set, he didn’t make a whimper or react at all. By the third, he SCREAMED. We tried all night to put a warm compress on the area but he was in so much pain that he wouldn’t even let us touch him. Little did I know at the time that repeated injections like that should have been administered to different areas of the body. (By the way, the injections didn’t help Lucky’s itching either.)

So before Dr. Tello, I’ve had bad experiences with many vets in Chiriqui, including in David, and there’s not a one of them I trust.

Just recently one of Claudia Morales’ dogs lost the use of his back legs. She took the dog to the woman vet, who asserted that the dog needed surgery. Claudia’s husband was gone for a few days so she wanted to wait. In the meantime, she called Dr. Tello. He diagnosed the problem OVER THE PHONE, told her what medications to give the dog, and told her the dog would be fine in 5 days. He was.

Attached is a picture of this poor dog that died on Thursday, after I had given him injections but before we bathed him and cleaned him up.

Perhaps a positive benefit from the horrible death of this poor (unsterilized) dog is that when Jose and I went to talk with the people at Berard’s to tell them the dog had died, several employees who knew about us trying to help the dog were crying about his death. I gave them my card with my phone number and Jose’s and emphasized the necessity of sterilizing all dogs and cats – including males – to prevent this kind of problem (in addition to the other problems caused by non-sterilization.) And I told them to call me or Jose if they find any any other animals in the future that need help. If we get them in time, Jose and I can usually do a better job than that of the the local so-called “vets.” If there are broken bones, I can usually get the dog to Dr. Tello.

We tried our best, but this particular dog was too near death to save.

Dottie – skype: muffiemae

Please visit my web site at


Leave a Comment