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Maine Veterinary Medical Center responds amid death threats over surrendered German Shepherd puppy

German Shepherd puppy lying on grass
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Maine Veterinary Medical Center Jaxx saga is continuing to cause debate this week after the clinic released a detailed statement sharing their side of the story after they were accused of rehoming the German Shepherd puppy when his owner, Rachel Mullen, was unable to raise the $10,000 needed for his surgery.

Yesterday, we wrote a piece in which we shared Mullen’s perspective on the incident. She claims that Jaxx required urgent medical treatment after he swallowed a wooden skewer, but that after failing to raise the necessary funds quickly enough, she was forced to electronically surrender him. You can read the full story here.

Maine Veterinary Medical Center originally declined to comment on the story when they were approached last week by a reporter from a local television station because “we knew that the pet owner involved had been through a traumatic experience, we wanted to honor her privacy, and we assumed the story would be matter of fact.”

However, after receiving “hourly threats to burn down the hospital and to kill our staff and their families” the medical center has decided to break their silence and share just how difficult this experience has been for the entire team. 

“The language that has been used against our staff is vile and vulgar,” they explain in their statement. “While it’s true, we elected not to comment, the reporter could have asked for documentation from the pet owner or third–party corroboration to ensure that what she was reported was true, but she did not, and we have paid the price.”

Maine Veterinary Medical Center Jaxx statement

Nurse and vet attending to German Shepherd puppy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Maine Veterinary Medical Center goes into great detail in their statement (opens in new tab) as to exactly what happened from their perspective in the roughly 24 hours from the time Jaxx was presented to them until he was electronically surrendered. Here are the key points to note:

  • Jaxx was brought into the Maine Veterinary Medical Center on May 26th. “The puppy was in distress and based on our initial examination was shown to have an infection, fever, and was experiencing pain.” Mullen is said to have agreed to leave Jaxx at the hospital overnight for further tests after assuring staff that Jaxx had not gotten into anything or eaten anything that he shouldn’t.
  • Based on the information Mullen provided, she was given an initial estimate of $2630.55 to $3330.26 to cover Jaxx’s treatment.
  • The following morning at 9am, Jaxx was experiencing greater abdominal pain and required an ultrasound. A skewer was found to be “penetrating from the duodenum (first part of small intestine) through the liver and entering the chest. This is a significant injury that requires emergency surgery.”
  • At 9.30am the results of the ultrasound were communicated to Mullen. “A medical plan for Jaxx’s needed surgery and continued care was discussed, as was the cost of $9585.57 to $10,086.41 including current balance for Jaxx’s overnight medications and care. The doctor discussed the credit options offered by the hospital…the owner said she’d speak with her fiancé and call back.”
  • After 90 minutes the hospital called Mullen again after not hearing from her and said a 50% deposit was needed to begin the surgery. Mullen said she was applying for a bank loan. The hospital said they would continue to monitor Jaxx until they heard back from her.
  • At 1.30pm the hospital once again called Mullen asking for an update. “The doctor advised the owner that we wanted to begin Jaxx’s care to help avoid complications and emergency fees.” Mullen said she would know about the bank loan by 3pm.
  • At 4pm, the hospital called again and Mullen said she was prepared to say goodbye to Jaxx because she had no way to pay for his surgery. The hospital suggested that instead of euthanizing Jaxx that he be surrendered to another owner. “If you guys can give him a life and it’s not with me, then that’s fine,” a distraught Mullens was reported to have said.

The hospital states that “while surrendering a pet is a last resort, our priority is always saving the animal. It is unfortunate and heartbreaking for this pet owner that she did not have the means to cover this emergency. It is, however, a credit to our dedicated staff that another option to save the puppy was explored.”

A final word

Jaxx is said to have recovered well from the surgery and is now with his new owner, where the hospital hopes he will live a long and happy life. The statement goes on to say that “reports that Jaxx’s original owner finally raised all the money and paid us $10,000, but we wouldn’t give the puppy back are untrue.”

The team add that “we love our doctors, our staff, our profession, and our loving clients. We speak and work for animals who can’t speak, who can’t tell us where they hurt or how much pain they feel. That’s our job and we do it because we love it.”

And the closing words on the statement? “Please be kind.” Which, regardless of whose version of events is most accurate in this case, is a good reminder for us all.

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.