This is a story about Jaxx, but not likely the story you think it will be.

In the interest of full disclosure, my wife spent about a decade in the veterinary medicine field, and Maine Veterinary Medical Center (MVMC) is a member of our chamber of commerce for which I am the Executive Director. This is all to say that I’m not unbiased as to what occurred recently with a dog named Jaxx- but my plea is not about Jaxx- it’s about us.

For context the story goes like this: MVMC is an emergency hospital and one of the few specialty hospitals in Maine. When veterinarians don’t know how to solve a case, or if a patient needs 24/7 care, MVMC is the likeliest place in Maine they will be sent to. As the story goes, Jaxx was not feeling well in late May, and their owner got referred to MVMC. Jaxx was monitored overnight and was getting worse. At 9 a.m. the following morning they did an ultrasound and found a wooden skewer inside Jaxx that had punctured the small intestine, through the liver and into the chest. With each passing hour there was more likelihood that the skewer could rupture other organs, or that Jaxx could die from sepsis. Emergency surgery was needed, but at an estimated cost of around $10,000.

The owner, aware of the urgency, was given potential credit options to apply for such as CareCredit and Scratch Pay to apply for credit cards that could cover the expense. MVMC, like the vast majority of veterinary hospitals and clinic, no longer offer payment plans because bluntly, too often other clients have not paid. MVMC needed a 50% deposit to begin the surgery. The owner ultimately applied for a bank loan, but around 4 p.m. the hospital found the owner was not approved for the amount of a loan needed. Jaxx was running out of time. The final option, other than euthanasia, was to have the owner surrender ownership of Jaxx to the clinic, and the clinic would try and find a new owner who would be willing to take on the risk of paying for the surgery in the hopes that it could save Jaxx and the new owner would have a healthy dog.

It’s a brutal choice for any pet owner, but the owner decided Jaxx having a chance to live even if it wasn’t with her, was more important. The owner signed the ownership release form, a new owner was found, they paid for the surgery and thankfully Jaxx is recovering well with the new owners. However, the night of the surgery, hours after signing the ownership release papers, the previous owner, came to the clinic and said she had raised the $10,000 and wanted her dog back. But it was too late, Jaxx was now with his new owners.

The story got picked up by a local TV station, and they ran the story from the vantage point of the owner. The station did reach out to the hospital for comment, and they opted not to comment, initially. Now whether the TV station did a 100% accurate telling of the story is not for me to say. Certainly, the owners of the hospital disagreed with the coverage.


This isn’t a “blame the media” story. News media tries to inform, and all information is distorted through the lens in which the information is shared. In fact, as I said at the very top, I’m not unbiased in this story, and some may disagree with my retelling of these events.

I tell you all of that, to tell you this — it’s gotten very bad for the hospital staff who were just trying, and did, save a dog’s life.

According to a Portland Press Herald story posted late Monday night:

“The veterinary hospital has received hundreds of threatening, violent and expletive-laden voicemails and e-mails that [Communications Director for the hospital Sarah] Mills said have threatened to kill staff and their families and burn down the building.

“People used the hospital’s ‘meet our team’ tab on the website to find the names of staff, look them up on social media and threaten them there… The hospital received more than 3,000 calls on Wednesday alone, and ultimately staff had to turn off the phones because they were ringing non-stop….a police cruiser has been on site around the clock.”

What are we doing?! Death threats? Stalking staff members on social media? Burning down the building? When did this kind of vengeance become commonplace?


What are we doing?

Our society needs solutions for housing, childcare, substance abuse, mental health and so much more, and some of these issues will get divisive. It’s imperative that we can disagree, or be disappointed with an outcome, without resorting to stalking, death threats and arson.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard. This is embarrassing. Whoever threatened these staff members should be ashamed of themselves.

Our home has had as many as 10 pet heartbeats at one time- so I’m a pet lover. I would never threaten the lives of veterinarians no matter the outcome. Did you know, that the veterinary field has the highest rate of suicide of all healthcare fields? Check out Not One More Vet at to find out more. This is a high stress field, and now one hospital is getting 3,000 calls in one day from vigilantes who want to smite them out of a sense of righteousness because they did all they could to save a dog? Unbelievable.

We can’t continue like this. If we’re to solve any of the societal issues that will move us forward we need to learn how to disagree. This is a scary reminder of what a pandemic can do to alter what some people think is reasonable discourse. This terrible behavior needs to be called out- it’s awful. I hope those who read this, will consider this for future disagreements.

Cory King is the executive director of the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber.

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