Wicker Park Bucktown Insider's Guide

Beware Chicago Veterinary Emergency Specialty Center - YELP's Hidden 1 STAR Reviews

Thyra DeCicco - Monday, December 30, 2013

My dog Rainn in Wicker Park before her untimely death at Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center 3123 N. Clybourn Chicago Illinois 60618

Unconscionable things happened to my dog at the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Special Center (3123 N. Clybourn Avenue, Chicago) under the "care" of the attending physicianDr. Seth Ghantous. This matter is currently being investigated by multiple state regulatory agencies. Subsequently, the details of this specific case cannot be disclosed. When the time is right, however, I will share the details of Rainn's heartbreaking story.  

Before You Bring Your Pet To Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Special Center - PLEASE READ THIS 

I took my beautiful American Staffordshire Terrier, Rainn, to the Chicago Veterinary Emergency + Specialty Center at 3123 N. Clybourn Avenue in Chicago for a routine blood test and exam. 5 days later my beautiful, happy and energetic dog was dead. She had just turned 8 years old.

Unimaginable things happened to my beloved friend at CVESC, under the "careof the attending physician Dr. Seth Ghantous DVM. It is still difficult for me to come to terms with this devastating experience and what they did to my cherished friend.What I experienced was so egregious and so traumatic, it has changed my life and my view of veterinarians forever. Please do your homework before taking your pet to a veterinarian. Do not blindly follow a referral; even if it's a veterinarian referral. If you look at online reviews (as I did), know that consumer reviews for CVESC are being filtered by YELP so you are not seeing all of the reviews that have been published about this facility. 

Reviews That Are Not Recommended are reviews that YELP decides not to share with you, the consumer, and these reviews are not included in the business's rating. There are 10 1 star reviews posted for CVESC in the past year that are listed in a section on the bottom left hand side of the YELP page. 

Filtering (hiding) negative reviews about a health care facility is public endangerment and your pet's life could be at stake. A number of consumer warnings are also filtered on the YELP website; clearly misrepresenting consumer feedback.  

I attempted to post an honest 1 Star review on YELP about my personal experience and my reviews were also hidden and deleted; again endangering the public. So I am publishing here where the information cannot be censored and I can reach people with the truth. 

If it's too late and you've already had a negative experience at the Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center at 3123 N. Clybourn Avenue, PLEASE TAKE ACTION. It is extremely important to let the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation know about your experience.

What you need to do:

1)Submit a formal complaint immediately to the IL Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. You can instantly report your experience online to those who regulate veterinarian licenses in the state of Illinois. Do this now

2)If you're trying to get your pet released and CVESC is refusing to do so (which happened to me and others) please know that no veterinarian can hold a pet against the owner's will. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association: The treatment plan must be agreed upon by both parties. If you don't agree, you can terminate your relationship with the vet at any time and bring your pet home.

If the Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center refuses to release your pet into your care, walk outside, call 911 and wait for Police assistance. This directive comes directly via the Chicago Police Department.

My objective is to protect innocent animals and fellow pet owners from the same devastating experience my sweet Rainn and I experienced. Please feel free to contact me via the "Contact Us" form below for additional information. And please know, if you've had a terrible experience at CVESC you are not alone.
I have been contacted by many other people who have shared their stories with me. 

Formal complaints have been filed with the IL Department of Professional Regulation, American Veterinary Medical Association, Attorney General and others.

Thyra DeCicco - Publisher
Wicker Park Bucktown Insider's Guide

Source of Information: Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Special Center 

Hidden Reviews- Recent 1 Star Reviews - Warning The Public Hidden on YELP.

88 reviews for Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center that are not currently recommended

Note: The reviews below are not factored into the business's overall star rating.

  • Mic.
  • Ch

1-Star 12/10/2013

I was referred to a doctor there for a heart problem with my dog. I called to see if they'd complete the insurance form so that the insurance company could pay them directly and bill me for the balance. They told me on the phone they would. When I went in a month later (the 1st appt available) and confirmed the payment promise. I was told I'd have to pay over $500 up front and they refused to see my dog if I could not. I had to leave without seeing the doctor. Sickening.

  • T S.
  • Chi

1-Star 12/6/2013

Virtually identical experience to Katherine R on 9/24/13.  
My 10+ year old dog has been showing sines of weakness in his hind limbs.  My regular vet suggested seeing a neurologist for a $150 consultation, $165 including the gathering of my pets records from my vet.
My appointment was with the head of neurology, Dr. Podell.  They took my dog into the back room to run "vitals" and then Podell came in and within ten minutes, said to me that the only option is a $2,000 MRI to fully diagnose the problem.  If you read all of the medical reports on spinal/neurological issues with dogs, the treatment is one of two options:  very expensive surgery at $3,000 or anti-inflammatory meds.  Seems to me that if a client doesn't want to spend $2k on an MRI, then the least they can do is suggest a course of anti-inflammatory meds but Podell wasn't willing to do that.  It was all or nothing.
The big problem with vets these days is that it's virtually impossible to find one that will thoroughly guide you through the cost/benefit analysis of treatment options, potentially at the expense of generating revenue for their business.  They fully recognize that with a lot of pet ailments, finding a diagnosis/treatment is hit or miss, requiring test after test, usually in the ballpark of $200 each.  They're not in the business of saving you money and refraining from tests/treatments that are likely unnecessary.  That is a shame!

  • Les
  • Chi

1 Star- 12/1/2013

I am quite dismayed at the inability to choose negative star ratings - As my experience was over months and multiple unrelated unbelievable serious issues of violations in privacy, ethics professional principles, integrity, care quality, fraudulant billing, more but going on would only waste time. We are filing in US District court under Property law against such unprofessional and explicitly unqualified persons as Ghantos, the incompet. of Miller as administrator, the moonlighting of another Vet "professional" dr. Jerry Klein, as collection agent (because their own system messed up addition and subtraction) , an unwillingness to provide the client records, mixing up lab results that were used to falsely create a misdiagnosis that almost killed our canine. THE POINT IS FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR PETS WELLBEING - EVEN LIFE - DO NOT DO NOT USE THESE PEOPLE FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN VIEWING FROM AFAR. If you need an emergency vet contact Animal ER or Furnetic - extension of U of I vet - I would not go as far as USDC filing against them if the evidence and facts stand c lear and undeniable. PLEASE FOR THE LIFE OF YOUR PET STAY AWAY from these overly Greedy and seemingly proud of their standing as false professionals of the veterinary field.

  • Luis
  • Chi

1 STAR-11/22/2013

So.. if a night of IV fluids and some pain meds are worth 2500  (760 was what they ended charging as a deposit after my sticker shock)  2500 was what they wanted me to approve when I checked my dog in....The admitting doctor was an abrasive woman named Dr. Volbrecht who tried to scare me into approving a 2500 estimate for the evening FOR a night of IV FLUIDS and pain drip mind you...

During my evening goodnight / check at 9pm.. i notice from the lobby that my dog.. (that was totally fine upon check-in) is howling in discomfort and "vocalizing".  After 25 mins I am able to go back and see him to see that they have put him in a cage/closet room where the pillows and towels are being stored.  Their response to this was that he had been "vocalizing" too much and they decided rather than find out why the dog is in discomfort to put him in this side room instead.  After sitting with him and realizing he is FAR too doped up on the drug that has been prescribed...I am promised by both the Vet Tech and the on call doctor (who by the way got his medical degree from St. Kitts in the West Indies... true.. you can check the website on that one...)  My dog was tender but not in extreme pain at all when i dropped him off.. this was meant to be an overpriced evening of relaxing and hydration via an IV as he is recuperating from pancreatitis.

The evening doctor agrees to take him off the pain drug that is clearly not sitting well with my dog.  The vet tech who is there also acknowledges that some animals dont react well to this and both promise me that they will take my dog of this medicine and bring him down to a minimum amount before I leave my visit and then discontinue it altogether.  Upon calling that night.. the doctor acknowledges that reducing the pain med has made my dog much more comfortable (clearly a step in the right direction to getting him off that )

In the morning, I call over and the dog was left on that pain med all night... and was still "vocalizing" and not comfortable.  I am furious that they pain med was not discontinued like the evening doctor told me they would and the response from the combative Emergency Room director was that I was abusing HER staff by being upset at the miscommunication from her team.  I ask the people at the front desk for a Copy of the medical chart which is refused and Dr. Volbrecht sits there and rolls her eyes at me says maybe I could hunt down her night-time co-workers to find out why the treatment didnt follow the plan we discussed when I was there the night before.

She then proceeds to tell me I can leave the hospital and take my dog and never come back.  This is the same woman who rolled her eyes because I wouldnt approve a $2500 estimate for IV fluids etc over the course of a short stay.

The emergency room director (Volbrecht)  should be more concerned about the wellness of a pet instead of trying to gouge people the highest possible amount for approval for a stay.  When I threatened to sue them... she once again rolled her eyes at me... (to her credit.. maybe she had a lazy eye and it was an unintentional auto-reflex)  

Take your loved ones and try other options in Chicago... paying a premium to have your dog suffer in discomfort all night and then have the owners berated when you express concern is NOT a way to run an animal emergency room.

  • El
  • Chi

1 STAR-10/17/2013

I took my dog after he had been sneezing violently and had heavy discharge for awhile. After more then $3500 spent in this place (CT, rhinoscopy, blood work..) my dog is still sneezing and has discharge. Dr. Seth Ghantous prescribed antibiotics that didn't work, and told me that my dog might have to take them for the rest of his life. You have to be mentally prepared to listen to rant and fight for time to ask questions. In the meantime I moved out of Chicago, and tried to contact dr. Ghantous via email about inefficiency of these antibiotics, but he doesn't even answer my e-mails. On every visit (3 total visits) I waited for an hour even though I had an appointment scheduled. I would not recommend this place! Unless you want to spend money being yelled at and afterwards ignored.

  • laur
  • Chi

1 STAR- 8/28/2013

Since I am the parent of 5 dogs and foster and babysitting mom of many more, I have been to this place  many more times than I care to remember  beginning long before it added the "specialty center" to its name. Until aprox 3 years ago I was a huge supporter, my last 5 or so experiences have not been as positive. Their staff is not as professional and does not seem as knowledgeable as years past. I have also had experiences with some of their specialty people including the ophthalmology and the neurology department. The most recent experience with the ER and the neurology departments was beyond poor. Although this was the only animal  ER in the Chicagoland area for quite some time - this is no longer the case.  I will no longer be using this clinic.

  • Jac
  • Chi

1 STAR-7/27/2013

My poor beautiful dog jumped out of my window today. I live on the fourth floor. The maintenance guy was in my apartment to do some work, one of the things was put a screen in my window. He left my window open.  
I took my dog to Blum and than to the Emergency Clinic. I told them I was a disabled veteran on a fixed income but would do everything for my little buddy.

Well guess what, if they don't think you have the money to get your dog help, you are screwed. Here is my horrible story, every word is true, my friend was there to back me up

Iwent to the Emergency Clinic on Clyborn but they were worst, it was like Evil and Eviler. They told me I should put him down. Although they charged me xrays, I doubt they took them. I'm sure they used the ones from the first clinic. I was told there was a 5 to 10 percent change he might recover with surgery, but it wasn't worth it. See, they didn't think I could pay the bill, your pet should be put down

If I drove in with a BMW you better believe they would've gotten off their asses to save him. I told him I wanted to talk to the neurologist. He wasn't in. He would be in tomorrow morning. Okay, keep him alive until than. Well I don't think you should, the humane thing is to put him down. I don't care for your bs, I want to talk to the neurologist. The veterinarian, left the room for a while. I told Joe,my friend who gave me a ride, I couldn't believe the balls on this sob. He came back and said the neurologist saw my dog and left. Talk about the dumbest lies. I said he was full of shit and had to leave the room. I wanted to beat the shit out of that little punk. Joe talked to him and he said he would keep the dog alive till the neurologist saw him in the morning.
However, he would call me, I probably wouldn't be able to see the neurologist. Can you believe these jerks, who do they think they are lying too? I signed some paper work and was given another bill. I told them I would take care of it. No, you need to pay now. I didn't bother to ask if what, call the police, just let my dog die in the alley? I was given more doggy credit and left. I went home with Joe and had some of the food I ordered hours ago. I knew my little boy was screwed as soon as thought I didn't have the money to pay for him, they wanted to put him down.

I didn't want him to spend the night with these sob's who seem to hate animals. i called and said I would come back to put him down. The girl who said they don't payment plans was asking if I had any questions. I told her and her staff are going to burn in hell. I went back, someone else was there to "help" me. When I signed the papers to put him down, they tried to sell me a 200 dollar urn. I asked her if she was ashamed of herself and just bring me my dog. He was brought in, he was still bleeding from his head. I put my hand under his head, and petted him with my other hand. He was moving around a lot for a dog that had to be put down. My hand holding his head was covered in blood. I spent 1200 dollars today on my dog and no one could bother to stop his bleeding. They put him down. I got up after a couple of minutes and left the room. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. Joe went to his car. I came back and my poor boy was just lying dead on the floor alone. I stayed for a couple of minutes and went outside asking for his collar. No one knows where it is. I know there is a special place in hell for veterinaries, and their staff. and screw you if you disagree.

  • Kl
  • Chi

1 Star- 7/26/2013

My main upset was that they insisted on doing x-rays that were not needed.  At the time, they played on my emotions by trying to present more concern - my dog was possibly sick (she had thrown up a few times that day and they recommended she come in).  However, she had not thrown up in over an hour and most practices would say to wait 24 hours and try a diet first, not after x-rays.  I specifically showed concern about x-rays and they insisted.  I will never take my dog back here, out of principle.  I would rather call a mobile vet service that is honest.

On a side note: when I left- they forgot to give me her food and called me to say I forgot it.  The correct thing to say would be: 'Sorry, I forgot to give you this.'  Not to imply I forgot.  The staff was like this the entire time and very condescending.

They also kept my dog for over an hour after the doctor met with me and everything had already been completed (on top of the 3 we already spent in waiting and during procedure).  This made no sense, but the 1 star was not for waiting, as it was an ER vet.

  • To
  • Chi

1 Star- 6/17/2013

One of the worst experiences I've ever had at an animal hospital. The doctors who attended initially to my cat, while sincere and caring, suggested that I euthanize her. This was over a year and half ago and my cat has been doing well with very basic care.   Two of the really deplorable things they did -- one was the exorbidant price at over $2000 for 48 hours of fluids -- the highest vet bill I've ever received. The other was the attitude of their senior physicians, Dr. Jerry Klein, who started out as couteous but then grew irate and even overbearing when I called him to ask for his advice regarding euthanizing my cat after she had left the hospital. This is a life or death decision and to find a doctor with such poor manners and lack of compassion was remarkable.

  • Dav
  • Ch

1 STAR- 5/3/2013

TO even describe what occured, in itself - is impossible to comprehend. THey pllaced the records in the wrong name with another dog owner that was billed for the services provided to us, they actually had test results from the other owners dog used to determine what medication to give my dog even though the disease of the other dog was not what my dog had. they illegally relewaased personal and confidential information because their own failure at record keeping made klein believe that a friend that was the wrong named owner was the one getting the treatment - then when we fely you could go no longer with insult to injury  - tests and each and every specialist said the affliction Ghantos claimed our dog had did not exist - Ghantos insisting on opperating on the dog for mega esophagus - and when we suggested a second opinion I thought the man would have a coronary rit=ght then and there - finding out by going to furnetics as part of univ of illinos that it was a massive bacterial infection  - if Ghantos only palpated the dog once he would have found the problem - but you will find he doesnt touch the dogs - NEVER NEVER TRUST THESE PEOPLE as we are still fighting them with their own filthy documentation and incompetenance - do not go to these people if you love your pet - go to the 245 hour furnetics I beg you if you want any chance with professional vets and not unc=scrupulous money hungry def=generates -

88 reviews for Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center that are not currently recommended (cont’d)

Note: The reviews below are not factored into the business's overall star rating.

  • Kri
  • Chi

1 STAR- 2/1/2013

I was extremely disappointed after taking my cat here when he was showing strange signs of weakness in his back legs. He is only 2 years old and we had no idea what could be causing it. Before offering less expensive ways that could address the issue, the "specialist" had us go through several rounds of X-rays and very expensive testing. 

$1200 LATER...

Still no answers. He was backed up poop wise, as you can imagine he couldn't poop with weak legs. So an enema, a minimal price, was the only beneficial service my cat received. 

We went to Blum hospital for a second opinion and the vet said, "why don't we prescribe a round of steroids?" MAGIC. Not a day later, he is SO much better. Turns out our cat was hurting himself when jumping off the window ledge when we weren't around. (We caught him doing it once!)

This place will rob you. Try Blum Vet Clinic first if you can!

  • Ma
  • Chi

1 STAR- 12/30/2012

This is the first time I have ever written a Yelp review, but my experience at this emergency center was sufficiently problematic that I feel compelled to warn other pet owners. I should also state at the outset that--although I am not a veterinarian myself--I come from a family in the veterinary business in another state. Last night, my nine-month old puppy vomited at least 15 times in a 2-hour period, so I called the center and they recommended that we come in immediately. We drove straight over. Upon arrival, my dog's symptoms were worsening: He was suffering from muscle spasms and acting disoriented--all symptoms suggesting that he had consumed a toxin. 

We had waited for 45 minutes in the lobby when another dog and owner entered the facility. The owner explained that his dog had eaten cookies, among other things, 30 minutes prior. The owner also mentioned that he was new to the neighborhood and they had not yet chosen a regular vet for their dog. The dog was alert, although perhaps a bit hyper. Five minutes later, a technician called that dog in to a room. 

I approached one of the front desk employees, asking why my puppy had been passed over in the line. She notified me that the other dog had consumed a poison. I told her that my dog may have consumed a poison, too, and that his symptoms suggested that he should have been seen next. Although this employee was not a veterinarian, had not conducted my puppy's intake, and could not even see my puppy because he was crouching in the corner of the waiting room, she claimed that my puppy was "stable enough to wait." She was unwilling to give me a time estimate when my puppy could be seen. 

After waiting five more minutes and watching my puppy continue to suffer, I decided my time was better spent driving to another emergency center. I informed the employee that we were leaving and asked for my intake sheet to be returned to me. She refused, claiming it was part of their records. I told her she had no right to keep any personal records about me (including my mailing address and phone number), seeing as we were not given any services. She offered to make me a copy. I told her I wanted the originals. After a tense exchange in the presence of other customers, she relented and gave me the original document. 

I am sure there are some wonderful veterinarians in this practice, and I would imagine that not all front desk employees there are so callous; however, if you are deciding between a longer drive to a better facility or a shorter drive to this one, keep in mind that you may be waiting at this center for a very long time for no reason while your dog convulses on the floor.

  • Le
  • Oa

1 STAR- 10/22/2012

DO NOT TAKE YOUR PET TO THIS CLINIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They will try to extort huge sums of money from you if taking your pet is inconvenient to them. My cat got hit by a car on a FRIDAY and sustained serious facial trauma (broken jaw, broken cheekbone and an eye that was filled with blood). Our vet sent us there because the cat needed 24hr care until a specialist could assess the damage and make a recommendation regarding surgery or not. Our vet was very optimistic and said that cat bones often knit together well without surgery and that the eye might have to be removed but he could live without it. I went to the clinic expecting an intake procedure and nothing more. When I got there the vet went through his injuries and then said "so, are you willing to commit $5,000 to $8,000 on the treatment and recovery of your cat, because if you are not then you don't want to go forward." I was shocked. I said "wait, I thought we were just going to maintain him over night, and get that opinion tomorrow. he is stable and has good breathing and good blood pressure so I can commit to maintaining him over night and then we'll see". So she went off and had the vet tech do an estimate. It CAME BACK AT $2,300 FOR ONE NIGHT! Again I was shocked and there were over $700 of "miscellaneous supplies and expenses". I had to call my husband who was in California to see if we should do it. He said if I thought he could be saved and could have a good quality of life we should do it. So I waited for the vet to come back and she said "we'll that's just an estimate and it could be more than that. Oh, and we don't have anyone to evaluate him tomorrow so he'll have to be maintained until Monday" The vet tech went off to redo the estimate and CAME BACK WITH $3,800 just to keep him alive til Monday. I was again speechless. Then the vet tech said well if this amount is prohibitive then you shouldn't go forward because that doesn't include whatever treatment and surgery he is going to need". So I said "you mean to tell me that you think it will cost $3,800 to get to an evaluation and then $5,000 to $8,000 to treat him. She said yes. I didn't want him to suffer until Monday so we sadly chose to have him put to sleep. The next day when my vet called to see how he was doing she was totally aghast that they had suggested the costs they gave us and that they pressured us to put him down. I know in my heart he'd still be alive today if we had taken him somewhere else.

  • Mo
  • Chi

1 STAR- 7/9/2012

I took my dog there on a sunday morning since the regular place we go to closed. She was very lethargic and having a lot of pain almost couldn't walk.
When i called there on saturday night when she started having the symptoms the lady that picked up the phone was very nice and helpful, she also gave me an idea about how much the visit/x-rays would cost. I waited till next morning to see if she would get better and went there early next day.
I guess it depends on the shift because the lady that was working the front desk was nothing like the one i spoke to the night before. She looked like she was tired and didn't wanna be there, walking around slowly and taking her sweet time...
I set in the waiting area for about 30 minutes, the only customer that was there was actually leaving just a few minutes after i arrived apparently looked like the lady just had to put down her pet because she left crying with an empty carrier.
Waiting room was FILTHY, it looked like nobody vacuumed there in a long time, pet hair piled up everywhere and bunch of dirt. Two of the exam rooms had the door open and nobody cleaned those either, you could see the exam tables - hair all over and dirty. The third room opened up after the other customer left, the lady from the front desk went there, sprayed the table couple of times and wiped it, then she took a lid off a garbage can right next to it and put it on top of the same exam table she just cleaned. She then changed the bag in the can and put the lid back on but never cleaned the table after words. After seeing all that ( i assume she was gonna use this room for us ) i simply walked out and went some place else. I've been to quite a few different vets and never seen such unsanitary conditions, my dog could potentially get more sick then actually being helped there...
And if you're working the front desk and have nothing to do why can't you get up and vacuum? It really doesn't take that much time to do it and can keep the pets coming in safe...

  • St
  • Chi

1 STAR-6/9/2012

Lets set the record straight; I have experienced a canine with a long term illness - while doing so I have had the great fortune to experience the highly experienced and professional services provided by Blum, Furnetics and U of I in Urbana - I applaud those facilities. They exemplify what the Vet oath stands for. Then you have cvesc - As i can say the following with clear conscience - substantiated with 100's of pages of doc's containing undeniable supporting evidence - CVESV is the most unprofessional, undeniably the most egregiously unethical, inexperienced, insurmountably void in any aspect hinting of awareness to principles and responsibility and accountability to the public in which they rape and pillage (figuratively thru a despicably horrendous insurmountable level of greed usurped only by those individuals thirst for notoriety and claim to fame - moment in some spotlight of achievement - almost assuredly as a result of con-artistry, fraud, deceit, indifference - certainly not as a result of any recognizable level of honest effort on their part. 
If you truly love your pet and feel responsible and accountable in choosing the professional team to professionally resolve your pets issues - go to BLUM - or 245 Hour Furnetics, Family pet -= shedding any/all pride  - on the behalf of same - WE BEG YOU -  to  fend off any temptation from convenience or other reason and  stay far far away from this menace to the veterinary profession - PLEASE do not submit your pet to the hands of these unscrupulous and unconscionable people.

The mere fact that they exist gives a number of us that live in the dssame building and have experienced their deceptive and unconcinable ineptitude makes our lunch take a quick exit - PLEASE dont make the same mistake numerous persons have made before you -  not escap[ing before experiencing unnecessary and unqualified  dire consequences . They are a sham - a scam of the publics trust and a leach eyeing every dollar passing before them. 
If there are ratings more than 3 stars on this site - tghen I guarantee you they are paid by these vulchers to post the comments.

  • Kris
  • Orl

1 STAR- 4/10/2012

I would give ZERO stars if I could. NEVER EVER EVER take your pet here. They will rob you blind. I took my pet here for an emergency and was charged $2100 for a surgery that was never performed. Days later I was told to come pick up my pet or pay another $3000. I picked up my pet and took him to another vet who cured him for $250.  This helpful vet said that Chicago Veterinary Emergency Center prays on their victims because they are the only ones open 24 hours and basically takes your money and runs. They did not help my pet and still charged $2100 for NOTHING.

  • L H.
  • For

1 STAR- 2/5/2012

This is more of a review of Dr. Podell than anything else. The people at this animal hospital aside from him seem reasonably nice, but if your dog/cat is neurologic, do NOT bring them here unless you want to pay money for nothing.

I went to see Podell when my dog had an acute neurological change. She was 3 years old and a normal, happy, active pup, and suddenly was ataxic and not herself. My normal vet feared she might have meningitis or something serious. I brought her to Dr. Podell, and she needed to stay the night and have her spinal fluid examined for things like meningitis. 

No one called me the next day... I called several times and the only thing they could tell me was she was eating fine... My dog wasn't brought there for not eating! She was brought there because she couldn't walk, but no one was able to tell me anything about how she was progressing.  Finally 24 hours after I had originally brought her in I decided I wasn't going to leave her there only to be charged an arm and a leg for her to stay there another night if they weren't doing anything to her and if they couldn't tell me what was going on with her so I went to pick her up. 

Dr. Podell was there and gave me 10 minutes of his time to tell me that she was fine. He gave no explanation for what she had, or what was done...just said she was fine and would be 100% normal in a few days. When I got my dog back, I could tell she was DEFINITELY NOT FINE. Perhaps her condition had improved mildly from the day before but she could still not walk in a straight line, she was visibly unhappy and not herself at all.

I was charged 30% more than the estimate ($1,400) I was given and given absolutely no explanation of what she had, what I could do to help her... NOTHING. 

My dog was sick for another few weeks and I was devastated. Finally I brought her to the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital. I was charged a fraction of the cost and though the people I initially spoke with their were students, they were able to do more than Dr. Podell in terms of determining what the problem might be and how to proceed.

Here is the kicker, and what makes me absolutely sick about this ordeal. I worked at an animal hospital that referred patients to him (he's the only neurologist around!) 2 other workers at the hospital have had THE SAME EXPERIENCE WITH THIS DOCTOR! They have brought their pets to him in emergency situations such as this one and have been given no answers and charged exorbitant prices for nothing. If Dr. Podell provide adequate care/answers to clients who work in the veterinary business (who have the ability to refer clients his way) I can only imagine he treats others even worse. 

This is unacceptable behavior for any health professional. If your dog or cat has a neurological problem, it is worth the time to take them to a veterinary teaching hospital such as University of Wisconsin at Madison or U of I in Champagne Urbana. Though it's a far drive from Chicago you will certainly save money in the long run and get some answers as to what the problem might be, the tests that can be done to confirm a diagnosis, and what you can do in the future. 

Do not go to Dr. Podell!!!

  • T. J
  • Hig

1 STAR- 2/20/2011  Updated review

During your surgical consult should you hear these words..."If it were my dog, I would operate"...."If it were my dog, I would want to know," you need to grab your beloved pet and leave immediately. The surgeon is giving you the guilt trip so he can make his mortgage payment. I spent $5,000 on my beloved dog to have a tumor removed from the liver. I spent the week after surgery trying to save my wonderful companion from his surgical mistake with no success. I had to take him to yet another emergency care center to be put to sleep. It was a terrible week. To me, my dog was the most wonderful, loving constant companion. To the surgeon, just another mistake. Should you have an aging pet, do the right thing, enjoy each day and then take him in to be put to sleep.

  • c w.
  • Chi

1 STAR- 12/4/2011

The ER vet was snotty and condescending.  (It was a Sunday and she seemed irritated to be there.)  Then the front staff took over 30 minutes to check me out, even though I was the only person there.  Considering their very high prices, you would think they might have a small interest in customer service.   They only gave my dog a pain shot because I asked for it.  
I would never go there again.

  • Dan
  • Chi

1 STAR-12/2/2011

Not a pet owner myself, but I had the misfortune to visit this hospital the night my girlfriend's cat died. I found the staff; techs, clerical, and doctors to be absolutely terrible in terms of bedside manner and simple courtesy. I understand that the bill needs to be paid, but condescension and speaking down at someone obviously emotionally distraught is just plain rude. Can't speak to the technical acumen of this place. Our cat only spent two hours.

88 reviews for Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center that are not currently recommended

Note: The reviews below are not factored into the business's overall star rating.

  • w b.
  • Libe

1 STAR-11/19/2011

I don't know really what happened. I took in my 12 year old Husky, because it was determined that he had a tumor on his liver. The vet was optimistic that he could remove the tumor and buy my pet more time, "several months" he said. I trusted him. But my wonderful dog was sent home after a terrible surgery. The vet never indicated to me that this was a "very serious" operation...and kept saying "if it was my dog" I would operate, over and over. Well, I let him and my dog lived 6 days and I had to try and care for him, until he was put to sleep. I will never trust a surgeon at this facility again. Be very careful of a "happy, optimistic" surgeon. I spent $5,000 to take my poor companion home, only to have to be put to sleep. I am terribly disappointed and hurt.

  • ER
  • Chi

1 STAR- 11/17/2011

WARNING! If you love your animal on any level - DO NOT GO NEAR THIS PLACE - THERE ARE OTHER 24 HR VET PLACES LIKE FURNETIC IN CHICAGO. These people milked me of thousands of $ stringing us on a misdiagnosis goose chase that almost killed my cav. dog. Their records system is so screwed up that 1. comingled my records with two other clients in their system. 2. made numerous errors like wrong client name and address, different client ids and patient id - so much so that ins. will not accept claims until they correct  the errors - cvesc is unwilling to spend time and $ to fix errors. 3. released my private and confi. records to another client thru actions of staff vet J. Klein - refuses to provide explain. as to why nor apology. 4. Created ficticious docu. - at first claiming directly out of my account then changed explaination. 5. multiple requests for records end up with only partial documents - obvious there is something they wish for me not to see - so complaints to Dept od Pro. Serv. and small claims court we shall me again - HEED MY WARNING - GO ELSEWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Na
  • Chi

1 STAR-10/17/2011

Our dog was in the emergency hospital for a few days and under the care of a specialist that works out of CVES. The emergency hospital nurses were fantastic.  The doctors were arrogant and seemed uncaring.  The nurses for the specialist (not an emergency nurse) made mistakes with the prescription medications.  We switched to AETC and they were much better.

  • Bu
  • Chi

1 STAR- 6/23/2011

AVOID THE SPECIALITY CENTER LIKE THE PLAGUE.  To start off with they use snotty robotic interns, they don't call you back with results, the doctor tells you they are running tests but when you pay the bill you find out it is something else.  The vet seemed very nice but spent very little time with us.  The rest was with these haughty conceited idiots who basically had scripts they droned out monotonically.  I had to call back for two days to get the results of what I had been led to believe were tests to ascertain the extent of problems found by our regular vet.  Finally I got one of their horribly belligerent zombies on the phone.  She proceeded to tell me that they did a urine test and examination and my dog would have to come back in for more tests.  I paid nearly $900 for a urine test and examination.  You decide if you want to go to this place.

  • Vin
  • Chi

1 STAR- 6/23/2011

I wouldn't plan on taking your animals to this vet's office unless you have won the lottery or have family wealth!!  Although they accurately diagnosed our emergency situation, they were ready to give us two options: pay an astronomical amount of $$$ to treat our dog, or have her put to sleep. I later took said dog to another vet and they did the surgery for 25% of the cost that this place was going to charge us. Yes, you read correctly, they were going to charge us 4 times as much as the vet we went with did!!! Are you insane?? This vet office was quick and accurate, but clearly their bottom line was the money and could care less if our animal lived or died. I would never recommend this to anyone ever, unless you have unlimited funds and enjoy being completely taken advantage of.

  • Lili
  • Ch

1 STAR- 5/21/2011

Run as fast as you can and take your precious pet somewhere else!!! 

My veterinarian recommended  Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center when my English Cocker Spaniel was diagnosed with a tumor.  I trusted my veterinarian and took Simon to get examined by one of their specialty doctors.  
They did an MRI, and then they did a cat scan, and told me that Simon needed surgery.  Before I agreed to the surgery I asked Dr.Jackson what were the risks and I also asked him had he operated on case like Simon's before.  Dr Jackson told me that he had operated on other cases like Simon's and told me that if we did the operation at least Simon would have a chance of living.  After the Dr Jackson reassured me that Simon would be fine, I agreed to the surgery.  I mean they did an MRI and a cat scan so I figured they knew exactly were the tumor was located and they knew the size of the tumor...right? Well this turned out to be the worst decision I ever made.  I should have never trusted Dr Jackson with my Simon's life.  After they butchered my dog, Dr Jackson called me and told me that Simon's tumor was located so closed to his vena cava and that Simon was not going to make it....and that it would be best to put him to  sleep.  I was devastated, I was going to lose my Simon.  Why did Dr Jackson tell me he could do the surgery and that he knew exactly where the tumor was, only to tell me later that the tumor was too close to the vena cava and therefore the surgery was not successful.  What was the point of doing the cat scan and the MRi? Why did he tell me that we should do the surgery?  I told him no I don't want Simon to be put to sleep, and he insisted that Simon was not going to recuperate and that the humane thing to do was to put him down.  Then Simon stopped breathing because his throat was swelling up from having the tube down his throat and they said he needed to be put down.  They didn't even take me to a private room so I could say good bye to Simon.  I said goodbye to Simon in front of all their staff in the operating room....they all just stared at me while I cried my heart out when they were injecting my Simon.  I didn't even get a chance to have a private moment with my best friend.
Dr Jackson showed no compassion at all.  His bedside manner was horrible.  My biggest regret is taking Simon to Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center.  Instead of healing my dog they shortened his life.  MY ADVICE IS DON'T USE THEIR SERVICES, AND DON'T EVER LET DR JACKSON OPERATE ON YOUR BELOVED PET. 
I regret taking Simon in that morning for his surgery, he walked in, and a week later I went back only to walk out with my beloved Simon's ashes.  If only I had done my homework before agreeing to that surgery, my Simon would still be around today.

  • A
  • Ch

1 STAR-2/28/2011

If you can avoid this facility in any way, please do it!  I recently was referred to the IM Specialty Veterinarian (Dr. Jack Mackenzie) by my local veterinarian to perform some tests on my Weimaraner for what was thought to possibly be a cancerous tumor.  
My experience started out on a positive note when I met with the doctor and immediately trusted his instincts and experience.
Things started to unravel when he told me test results would be back on a certain day and I never heard from him.  I called for a few days straight and talked to his staff, who acted annoyed at my requests for results.  I want to point out that I had spent $4000 at this point for these tests and I had it in writing from the doctor that results would be back by a certain date. 
Finally, he called with the results and referred me to the Aurora VCA since they have a radiation oncologist at that hospital.  I was able to set an appointment up in Aurora for the following week and Dr. Mackenzie assured me that all of the test results and CT Scan results would be transferred there in the mean time.  My appointment for the following week was to be the first of 5 radiation treatments for my dog and supposedly, Dr. Mackenzie had spoken to the radiation oncologist in Aurora and coordinated this.
So when I arrived the following Monday at VCA Aurora (having taken a vacation day from work), I was told by the radiation oncologist that they never received the CT Scan results from Dr. Mackenzie.  I was also told that this "happens all of the time" when pets are referred from this institution.  I called Chicago Veterinary Emergency Services from Aurora to ask where the CT Scan results were and was told that they had no idea.  They didn't even know if the CD had been mailed.  The only thing they could offer was for me to come in that night and pick up a copy.  They did not even apologize.  The whole experience was stressful enough without this ordeal.  We had to reschedule the radiation for the next day, which pushed the 5th and final treatment into the next week.  I had to drive to Chicago Vet Emergency that night to pick up the CD.  I also had to take additional time off of work.
I called my original veterinarian the next day to inform her of the situation and she was very apologetic.  She suggested that I call Chicago Vet Emergency and speak to Dr. Gene Mueller, who oversees things.  She also urged me to ask for some sort of compensation, considering I had taken time off of work and had at this point, spent $5,000 at their facility.  I did this and Dr. Mueller was very sympathetic and said that his coordinator, Alicia Obando would get back to me and that we could work something out.  When I did hear from Ms. Obando, she said they were willing to refund me $140, which was the fee for Dr. Mackenzie's consultation.  I was shocked that this was the best they could do, considering the circumstances, and when I questioned this with her, she mentioned that she called VCA Aurora and that the vets claimed they never told me that this "happens all of the time."  I have since talked to them and the doctors and the staff told me flat out that it does happen quite frequently, that they would openly tell that to anyone, and that they do not promote recommendations to Chicago Veterinary Emergency.  Ms. Obando was very rude and obnoxious on the phone and not apologetic at all.  I would never take a pet to this facility again!  I am not someone who ever writes reviews - but I really felt the need to spread the word with my experience.  Quite honestly, a sincere apology would have gone a long way with me.  If in need of an emergency facility, I highly recommend driving the little extra distance to VCA Aurora.  The staff are far more loving and compassionate with the animals and I have been extremely happy with the whole overall experience with them.  The prices are also far more reasonable.

  • m d.
  • Chi

1 STAR-11/13/2010

When I first called the clinic to make an appointment it seemed like no one knew what they were doing.  I wanted to make an appointment with Dr. Podell and I wasn't able to speak to him first.
I finally set up the appointment.  The receptionist was nice but Dr. Podell and his techs were VERY RUDE!!  You would think someone who has been in practice so long could make an educated guess on what was wrong.  He insisted that nothing could be determined without an expensive MRI.  I felt ripped off!  I spent $ 600.00 for nothing!  He ran some lab test and his fee didn't reveal anything so he pushed for the MRI again.  


I heard that he and a bunch of other doctor left another animal hospital hanging to move his practice here.  I bet that other hospital was glad to get rid of him!!!  Does anyone know the hospital he used to be at?

I will never go back!  My regular vet was also unhappy with our results! Stay away from here!

  • Da
  • Chi

1 STAR-10/14/2010

We took our sick cat here last night and were very disappointed with the service. They charged us an arm and a leg for service that bordered on gross negligence.

When we noticed he was sick, we called them before we went to find out if what he had was an emergency or could wait until the morning. We described the symptoms, and they said he might have a life-threatening condition, and we needed to get him in immediately.

When we got there, we sat in the waiting room for over an hour (so much immediacy). When a vet finally saw him, we described the symptoms again, and she said that there was probably nothing wrong with him. When we asked the vet about the condition that the woman on the phone mentioned, she said that his symptoms had nothing to do with that condition. Seemingly, the woman on the phone made up the "life-threatening condition" in order to get us in the door to pay them $100.

While we were there, they didn't even take his temperature (a standard part of the physical examination that we paid for). It turns out he's running a high fever. We took our him to our vet this morning, and the vet was irate that they dismissed him. He called them and reamed them out. He could have easily died because they forgot to take his temperature!

Avoid this place if at all possible. They gauge you exhorbitantly and provide negligible service.

  • Lyn
  • Chi

1 STAR- 5/14/2009

i have a very active border collie that for some reason on a Sunday morning could not move and was in obvious pain.  i rushed her to the ER where they took Xrays and a blood panel.  The vet I was asigned to showed no signs of compassion or empathy.  She guessed at a few things ranging from brain leision, spinal cancer to brain cancer and suggested strongly that i put my dog down.  When i questioned her and asked for a confirmed diagnosis she could not give me a definitive answer and insisted that i consider putting her down.  i asked what i could do to find out what was truly wrong with my girl and she said an ultra sound but that they do not offer that service.   Imagine an ER service that cannot confirm what is medically wrong!!!

I could not make such a huge decision without knowing i had done everything possible for my girl.  The vet, a woman, was clearly angry with my decision to take my dog and get a second opinion. In fact, she said my girl would not make it through the day.

Well, a day later and a skilled surgeon, my girl is alive and well.  Yes, it was a critical situation and one that was costly (6 nights of hospitaliztion) but well worth it.  My girl will have the same quality of life before all of this happened.  Shame on this vet for giving up so easily!  I truly question their skill at this facility.  To try and push me into killing my dog just because they couldn't figure things out makes me sick to my stomach.

Lesson learned - get a second opinion!!!!!

88 reviews for Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center that are not currently recommended

Note: The reviews below are not factored into the business's overall star rating.

  • Ka
  • Ch

1 STAR- 4/7/2009

Last week I took my dog here due to vomiting and horrible, bloody diarrhea. Terrifying, right?  After 2 hours, x-rays, bloodwork, they diagnosed her with bleeding gastritis with a potential bleeding ulcer.  $553.  Now I will pay anything for my dog not to suffer. They have me antibiotics and food instructions. They wanted to keep her, but I opted to take her home.  30 hours later, she was not any better.  I took her to my regular vet who diagnosed her in 3 minutes with impacted anal glands.  He expeelled them, she was better in 8 hours.  To me, anal glands should be Vet 101.  This place is Gorgeous, Friendly, provides Beautiful, Detailed, loving reports, CDs of X-rays, but the vets, who are the MOST IMPORTANT PART, stink.

  • H. 
  • Ch

1 STAR-5/18/2008

I would give this place 3 or 4 stars for the actual veterinary care, but the one star is for price gouging.  My cat had a blocked bladder on a Sunday morning, so I needed to take him in for immediate care, and this place was the only place I knew of other than animal 911 in Skokie (and I don't have a car).  The $90 special fee was clearly explained to me on the phone, and I understood this as a reasonable price to pay for a service when my regular vet's office was closed.  The staff checked in my cat promptly and said he would need to stay over night with a catheter.  They took him away to start his care and then showed me a bill range that went from around $700 to more than $1000 for one nights care.  This totally blew my mind as it was way out of my budget and seemed totally unreasonable for what is a common occurrence in male cats.  But what choice did I have?  

I complained to the office manager who told me that the prices were firm and he said that sometimes we experience expenses, like home or car repairs, that come at a difficult time but we have to deal with them.  This really made me angry because in a situation like that--say I needed to get a new refrigerator--I would consult consumer reports for their recommendations, maybe ask some friends, shop around, wait for a sale, whatever.  But in this case they have people who either have to risk the lives of the pets they love or pay an enormous, inflated price because that's the only option they have on the weekend.  Taking advantage of customers in emergency situations is the very definition of price gouging!

I picked up my cat the following morning and transferred him to the highly recommended Uptown Animal Hospital.  My bill from the CVES came to $672, after a sympathetic staff member removed a mysterious $78 charge for "VetScan Critical Care Plus" that no one could clearly explain the utility to me.

Also in the bill, $52 for Valium (in one night!  no wonder my cat's eyes were so glassy when I picked him up....)

Basically, if you love your pet and they get sick on the weekend, you may have no choice but to visit this place.  I recommend if the situation is not dire, to wait to visit a regular vet who will not take advantage of you like CVES.  Your pet will get decent care at CVES, but shame, shame on them for price gouging!

  • Jo
  • Chi

1 STAR-1/31/2007

I have lost 2 cats to this place. Yes both of them were very sick but something is very wrong with this clinic. The vibe given off is that of a PETA pyschos. They wanted to put both of our cats to sleep without a real review of what the problems ever were. Both times we took them there they jumped around about the prognosis and still didnt get it right. They didnt want to run full blood test even though we were willing to pay for it. It felt like more laziness then anything else. I will not take any other animals back there. Most of the near by clinics wont even recommend this clinic, they suggest that you head out to the near by burbs.

There is no warm and caring feeling from this clinic and dont suggest that you take you're animal there. When our first cat passed, she was 23yrs old, there was confusion about our cat's ashes and it wasnt till after a lot of bitching that they would even listen to us. They came out and admitted they lied to us because they were scared they were not going to receive the rest of the payment. The only reason we went back this week is because they are 5 blocks away other wise we would have gone the 2hrs in traffic to another clinic. I dont know if they killed our cat or just helped her die but we will never go back there again.

  • Ro

1 STAR - 12/29/12

Our young puppy was critically ill. Although some of the ancillary personnel were kind and supportive, the three female ER doctors we interfaced with over 24 hours were remarkably similar in their detached, defensive and barely a hint of compassion approach to veterinary medicine. Our telephone conversations with them were terse, cold and discouraging.

At the recommendation of their internist, Dr. McKenzie (who we liked very much), we transferred our gravely ill puppy to Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove for specialty care not available at the Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center.  OMG, what a difference in attitude, attentiveness and compassion. For us, the difference was not the ancillary personnel but the Veterinarians we worked with; overall a much better experience at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove.

BTW, many of the negative Yelp reviews we read about both centers related to their extremely high cost.  In our experience the fees were essentially the same at about $2,000/day for ICU care, antibiotics and appropriate diagnostic testing.

  • Earl
  • Chi

1 STAR-6/3/2011

Do not expect to get a precise or well informed effort from the staff at this clinic. Most of  the Vet's and some of the Techs are from the ER clinic in Northbrook, and have relocated here, since this location has upgraded the building and facilities. We are old hands at bringing all our pets to vets and ER situations. The costs of a procedure are high at any ER . It is just at this clinic they seem to specialize in not informing you correctly of what they are doing , every step of the way. If you don't think to get your own questions answered in the initial consult, to your satisfaction, expect to be misinformed and hurried on  the phone the rest of the way.  The Vet's cannot seem to keep there own medical orders and advice straight through two or three conversations. Getting to speak with your Vet after the initial meeting is quite a task, battling through the techs on the phone.
On numerous times the Vet's  ( we have dealt with numerous ones here , having many older pets ) will contradict there own medical advice and prescription advice , whether written or verbal . If you try to get a clear answer over the phone ,  you will be left with the feeling that no one keeps notes or ever updates the files on your pet. In an fast paced emergency , and you have no choice, they can help your pet , say when your regular vet isn't around. But if you go there thinking with a potential semi-long term problem of your pet, they are a good choice, you could end up dreading the day you set foot through their door.
My advice locally would be Animal Emergency Treatment around 4000 w Belmont , or the Buffalo Grove  Vet Specialists.  Here on Clybourn, they just have a disconnect with actually diagnosing your pet and treating them. They will want to run every test they have , but they seem unable to even comprehend the results  in a correct fashion. We have had them miss clear signs on xrays and ultrasounds , that even vets in there own clinic have said should have been caught.  This leads to even further delays or misdiagnosis of your beloved pet.  
I write this now because after sitting and thinking over a period of time , and connecting all the miscues and bad info, and  bad communication with the staff , these things just need to be brought to light.
Sometimes you get caught in the loop of bringing sick pets to the closest facility , but if you can take a little extra time , I would find  another place.
There are money grubbers  , and cold fish vets and techs  at a lot of places, I know.  I'm not really slamming them for that, it is the actual  care and attention you need your pet to receive is the number 1 priority. At this clinic they need to raise  their standard of care , diagnosis , and follow-up.


  • p     Published Under Chgo Veterinary Emergency & Specialty

Sarah P - 1 STAR - 12/14/2012

My vet recommended this place because my dog needed to see a specialist to pinpoint his problem. While I'm glad that they were able to find the problem, I will never be returning. To put it politely, the bedside manner of internal medicine doc, Seth Ghantous is completely lacking.  And that's putting it nicely.  He was incredibly rude to me for asking questions, so much so that I had to stop him during his rant and say, "take a step back and tone it down."  Are you kidding me?!  I should never have to say that to a professional because they're being so rude.  You don't need to speak to me like I'm some idiot and can't understand anything.  Also, I'm not deaf and you don't need to scream.  I can hear at normal volumes. I spent over $2,000 there for three visits, so it's not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.  

All in all, if you want to spend a lot of money and be treated poorly, visit Seth Ghantous.

Thyra DeCicco


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Source of Information: Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Special Center

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