San Diego, CA
I had a terrible experience here and would NOT recommend this place to anyone unless you're a millionaire.
I took my cat here because she seemed to be having problems urinating. After checking her out, I was told that she had a UTI, but that they also suspected that she had a bladder stone. The initial cost was going to be somewhere around $200, but after discovering the possible stone, it went up to somewhere around $400...which was fine....I agreed and was sent on my way (they had to keep her until her bladder was full to run the tests). Before I left, I asked what we would have to do if it was a stone and for a rough estimate on cost. I was told that they would HAVE to do surgery and that at the MOST it would cost $1200. I left, held my breath and hoped for no stone.
About an hour later, I got a call telling me that it was in fact a bladder stone. I was then informed that because my cat is a senior (she's 8), they wanted to run some more tests on her so my total for this visit was going to be near $700! IN ADDITION to that, the surgery was going to cost over $1500. In shock, and obviously upset, but wanting to do what was best for my cat, I asked if I had ANY other options as there was no way I could afford that amount of money. The lady on the other end, who I believe was the vet's assistant of some sort, told me that surgery WAS MY ONLY OPPTION AS IT WAS NECESSARY and started giving me information on a credit card I could get to pay for the services. I told her I needed to process everything and that I would call back in a bit. When I got off the phone, I started doing my own research on stones and discovered that there are actually two kinds of stones, the more common one (struvite) can be cured with antibiotics and change of diet (in most cases). I called a different vet (Grand Animal Hospital) and told them about my situation. They said that if surgery was necessary, which it may NOT be, the most they would charge was $800. I made an appointment with them and went to pick my cat up immediately.
When I got there, I told them I was going to take her elsewhere and that I only wanted to be charged for the services done that day. After having a debate with the cashier lady on my bill, I was called back into the office to talk with Dr Darnell. It was then she told me about the two kinds of stones (she actually couldn't remember the names of both!!! Her reason being.....she had a headache!!????!!!) She then told me that we could try changing her diet and put her on antibiotics to try and get rid of it first (all of a sudden, now that I was taking my cat elsewhere, I had options other than surgery?!?! hmmmmm...weird, cause when I asked on the phone, I was specifically told that surgery was the ONLY option) She said she just suggested the surgery so my cat wouldn't be in pain any more (but duh, she would be in pain from the surgery any way!). She went on to say she personally has done surgery for her animals in the past, but then again she doesn't have to pay (SHE ACTUALLY SAID THIS TO ME! Not helping her case if you ask me). Dr. Darnell then sold me some of the prescription food and gave me an antibiotic.
To close, when I took my cat to Grand Animal Hospital, I found out that she gave me THE WRONG PRESCRIPTION FOOD!! (there are two kinds c/d and s/d). I would NEVER NEVER go back here again. Like previous reviews have said, they are ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. I do think Dr. Darnell truly cares about animals, but she should really get her priorities straight. It is really messed up to toy with someone like she did. When it comes to your pet, people are willing to pay $$ because they are like children to you. It is seriously appalling when people like Dr. Darnell take advantage of that. If you care for your pet, take them to Grand Animal Hospital. My cat is on a special diet now and doing great!