Mountain Emergency Animal Center is the only animal emergency hospital in the Blue Ridge and Fannin County area with veterinarians and technicians on staff all night, all weekend, and all major holidays – all working with your family veterinarian to provide the best care for your pet!
- Andrew Mendoza reviewed 4 months ago
- last edited 4 months ago
This review is being written regarding Mountain Emergency Animal Center (MEAC) and, in particular, Dr. Caleb Palmer. If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself needing emergency animal care after-hours in north Georgia, and have no other choice (as Dr. Palmer will snidely remind you in your desperate state), pray that he is not the on-duty veterinarian. Coming from a household that has owned close to two dozen pets over my thirty-four year lifespan and frequently worked with multiple veterinarians (including those in other emergency after-hour facilities), my family’s experience with Dr. Palmer easily qualifies as the worst. Dr. Palmer was unprofessional and his arrogant and combative posture, entitled attitude, and callous indifference to my pet’s condition leaves me questioning the quality of care my dog received in his final hours. In a business that should thrive on compassion and empathy, Dr. Palmer should not be an option for families contemplating their pets’ health, let alone in emergency situations.
On December 23, 2019, my best friend, a black Labrador Retriever named Chaucer, underwent intensive surgery to remove a cancerous spleen at Ocoee Animal Hospital. The night after, Christmas Eve, at around 11:30pm, Chaucer began bleeding significantly from his stitches. My father and I loaded him into the car and drove 50 miles to Blue Ridge to get him to the only emergency animal care center in the region, MEAC. Upon arrival, Chaucer was immediately taken into the back and, thanks to Dr. Palmer’s and/or MEAC’s “policies,” I never saw Chaucer alive again.
Throughout the nearly 4 hours that my family spent at MEAC early Christmas morning, Dr. Palmer became defensive in response to simple questions, mocked our situation, and imposed more anxiety and duress on his patient in his final hours than he relieved. Coming off surgery, Chaucer had recently been in the care of a different veterinarian who had provided a lot of information to me and my family regarding Chaucer’s condition. Naturally, I sought to provide as much of that information to Dr. Palmer as I could in an effort to ensure the best outcome for Chaucer. Rather than trying to incorporate that information into his diagnoses, Dr. Palmer dismissed critical facts and became annoyed with our follow up questions. At one point, in response to a question about Chaucer inexplicably gaining ten pounds in less than a day following his surgery, Dr. Palmer told us to “find another emergency facility willing to provide care,” if we were going to ask so many questions. As Dr. Palmer knew perfectly well, there is no other emergency facility within 100 miles that was able to help.
After signing the initial invoice for Chaucer’s care, we did not see Dr. Palmer again for close to ninety minutes. While we waited, Chaucer began howling feverishly in the back of the facility. Chaucer rarely howled – this was a sign he was feeling stressed and abandoned. I became nauseous as I helplessly listened to my best friend wail out of sight. I begged the staff to either allow me to sit with him in the back or to bring him in the room with us while we waited. At Dr. Palmer’s behest, we were told that “it was against policy for us to be with Chaucer.” He continued to howl intermittently for the four hours we were there.
When Dr. Palmer finally returned, he brought yet another invoice for nearly $2,000, recommending that Chaucer receive a blood plasma transfusion. Overwhelmed and sick to my stomach at what was unfolding, I called our normal vet who had performed Chaucer’s recent surgery at 3:00am for his recommendations. When I revealed this to Dr. Palmer, he became upset and defensive. He even went so far as to question my motives for the call- “Can I just ask you why you felt like you had to call him?” I responded that I was merely getting information from the only person likely to have it. Trying to defuse the situation, I signed the invoice, and agreed that we should go through with Dr. Palmer’s recommendations. As Dr. Palmer began to leave, I said “Thank you, Doctor,” and put my hand out to shake his. Dr. Palmer took the signed invoice, lowered his head, and did not stop or even look at me as he walked out. Because of Dr. Palmer’s standoffish demeanor and the lack of other available veterinary options, I was scared to ask if I could see Chaucer again before I left.
Chaucer died on Christmas Day, about twelve hours after we left him. After receiving a debrief from Chaucer’s normal vet, his death was likely inevitable. That does not, however, excuse Dr. Palmer’s unprofessional, and quite frankly, childish behavior. Instead of focusing on his anxious patient, getting vital information about his condition, and working with his client to get a favorable outcome, he took my family to task for perceived slights on his fragile ego. Under no circumstance, as a medical professional, is it appropriate to taunt your client that you are the only one who can reasonably help them. The fact we had questions regarding the scope, cost, and implications of his treatment and eventually sought a second opinion from our family vet is of no consequence. With so much on the line, it is reasonable for individuals to seek more information, to question the effects of proposed treatment, and to seek alternatives.
Dr. Palmer took our mere presence at the facility as an insult and made a dire situation worse. When given the chance to allow his patient to relax and wait with his family rather than alone in a cage in his critical condition, Dr. Palmer couldn’t be bothered. There is no reason for keeping a stressed, panicked, and vulnerable patient alone when his family is in the next room waiting. In my previous experience with other veterinary professionals, I have been encouraged to do the opposite and had stayed with my pet to provide them with comfort and keep them calm. Two months later, Chaucer’s cries still haunt me and I will forever regret leaving my best friend alone to die as he howled for me to find him. I can thank Dr. Palmer and MEAC for that.
In closing, this vet experience was a living nightmare, and it isn’t because my pet died. After this interaction, I firmly believe Dr. Palmer is in the wrong profession and should try finding one that doesn’t require the compassion, bedside manner, fundamental interpersonal skills and confidence he so clearly lacks. Perhaps he fits in well with the “just give me your money and go” culture that MEAC seems to foster, but that is the antithesis of what a veterinary practice should be. There is, however, one piece of advice that I would take from Dr. Palmer – find another emergency animal care center. With four other family pets still with us, we will make sure to do so and never return to MEAC or Dr. Palmer again.
- Steve Hoppin reviewed 12 months ago
- last edited 11 months ago
On Friday, July 5th at 8:30a.m. I was in need of emergency services for a pet cat. I called and only was able to leave a message. No one called back. Because your website indicated treatment was available 7 days, 24 hrs a day I dove the injured animal to your clinic only to find it closed. Fortunately for me and the cat, I was able to find another veterinarian within reasonable distance to treat the pet.
Poor, poor way to run a business. Obviously, you are not there for people during emotional times or the injured pet. If this poorly run emergency care business is still open it needs to update contact and website information, as well as, be responsible for returning calls in a timely manner. If it is not open anymore, take down the website!