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Lindenhurst Man Says His Dog Died After Animal Hospital Insisted on Closing

Nugget died at the Babylon Animal Hospital last week. (Photo courtesy of Vince Vaccaro)
Nugget died at the Babylon Animal Hospital last week. (Photo courtesy of Vince Vaccaro)
When Vince Vaccaro noticed his dog Nugget breathing slightly differently last week, he decided to bring the Yorkie to the Babylon Animal Hospital, where he was headed anyway last Monday evening for an appointment for his mother's dog. 

A few hours later, Nugget was dead. 

Vaccaro blames the animal hospital, claiming that despite his begging otherwise, doctors at the facility on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst insisted on closing the hospital soon after its normal 8 p.m. closing time. 

Vaccaro, of Lindenhurst, said his nightmare began after Nugget, who was 10 years old, was taken into an exam room at the hospital for a chest x-ray. Vaccaro said Dr. Andrew Lopez came back about 10 minutes later and told him that Nugget had an enlarged heart and had gone into cardiac arrest. 

Nugget was given the drug Lasix, which doctors said would remove the fluid from her lungs so she could breathe again, Vaccaro, 50, said. But as the clock ticked toward 8 p.m., Vaccaro said he was told the animal hospital was closing soon and that Nugget needed 24-hour care at an emergency clinic. 

"I told them there is no way I would make it there with the dog in this condition," Vaccaro recalled. "I begged Dr. Lopez and Dr. [Diane] Biedermann to stay open as Nugget was in the incubator breathing well and maybe in a few hours she would be stable enough for me to move her and make the 20 minute trip to the 24-hour vet." 

The hospital stayed open until 8:15 p.m., when Vaccaro said he was told that he, along with his mother, wife, sister and Nugget, had to leave. Vaccaro said Nugget was removed from the incubator, cutting off her oxygen supply, so he quickly grabbed Nugget in an attempt to race to the 24-hour vet. 

"I ran out the front door but by the time I fastened my seat belt she died in my arms," Vaccaro said. "I ran back to the front door with my limp dog in hands and it was locked. I banged on it and they opened and rushed her to the back to try to revive her but it was too late. My little baby was gone."

Vaccaro said he couldn't understand how a vet could force him to leave with such a sick animal. 

"Her heart stopped just a half hour before they sent me away with the dog in my hands," he said. 

Dr. Frank Liguori, the owner of Babylon Animal Hospital, declined to discuss the specifics of the case, saying he was not allowed him to disclose confidential information.

"The only thing I can say is that someone lost an animal due to an illness and is not happy about that," said Liguori, who was not involved with Nugget's treatment at the hospital. "He's just upset about losing his animal." 

Liguori said that while it's always unfortunate when an animal dies, Nugget was gravely ill and could not have been saved. The case was reviewed and "there was nothing that was done incorrect" at the hospital, he said. 

"I think it's just an upset person who has to get over it," Liguori said, referring to Vaccaro. 

Asked about the hospital forcing Vaccaro to leave with Nugget at 8:15 p.m, Liguori said: "The hospital closes. It's a normal thing that happens." 

Afterwards, Vaccaro said he called Dr. Lopez and asked him why he couldn't have stayed a few hours longer at the hospital to treat Nugget. Vaccaro said Lopez told him that everyone has a life and he needed to get home. 

Lopez could not be reached for comment, but Liguori denies that Lopez gave that explanation to Vaccaro. 

"The reason he is saying that is to make himself feel good for not taking care of the animal properly," Liguori said of Vaccaro. 

Vaccaro told Patch Tuesday that he wants an apology from Liguori and for Lopez and Biedermann to be fired. 

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else," said Vaccaro, who has no children and called Nugget "the closest to me having a child."

"Money was no object," Vaccaro said, speaking of the hospital forcing him out in order to close. "If he told me, 'I will stay here to till midnight. It's going to cost you $3,000.' Fine, here you go. She's my baby. You didn't give me any options but to leave." 

eeyore23 May 20, 2014 at 01:57 PM
Good riddance Therese. YOUR generalizations about the people posting on this board only strengthen my comment about your ignorance. How you can say no one takes responsibility for their pets is simply absurd. Your remarks lack substance and credibility.
Repair Sharks May 20, 2014 at 05:07 PM
Therese I understand your experience might be a good one however many others have had questionable issues. I for one saw both sides of the story. A dog that came from a very good family who was the center of their attention every single day. They were also friends with the Vet Doctor at this hospital on a personal level. They lost their dog which otherwise may have been saved by a clearly misdiagnosed treatment at this very hospital. Upon talking to numerous other Vets upon disbelief they were told by a handful of doctors that they were given a completely wrong diagnosis and that the dog may have survived if they had received the correct information and medication from this hospital. Given I have lived 3 blocks away from this vet for most of my life I can also support everyone elses claims by my neighbors who all don't use this Vet anymore for very similar reasons.
Bill Shaughnessy May 21, 2014 at 08:55 PM
Talking about dogs why do the wonderful people of Lindy feel it appropriate to bring their dogs to the street fairs or sporting events and then get mad when they are confronted by a law Abiding citizen can someone enlighten me because I want to rent an elephant and bring it to the street fair
diana May 31, 2014 at 09:42 PM
If people choose to bring their dogs to a fair and abide by the rules what do you care. I've never done it but I might try it.

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