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  • Last modified: May 8, 2023

Review Summary:

Poor diagnosis, long waiting time, poor bedside manner.


I have to Rant for a minute. I realize this is not a product review and is a local Southern CA business. But this site is called Bob’s Rants and Raves, so here is my rant…

First the Pros:

Low-cost spay, neuter, shots, office visit

Dr. Bellinger was very good (more later)

Now the Cons:

No appointments – walk-in only

One – two hour wait times

Dr. Jaramillo – no longer has empathy, too quick to diagnose (more later)


Dr. Bellinger examined our 6 yr. old, 112lb Doberman that was experiencing some pain when lying down for a while. Our assumption was an onset of arthritis following TPLO leg surgery 1 ½ yrs ago. Dr. Bellinger asked all the right questions, got on her knees and did a thorough physical exam of Brody. She recommended X-rays on both back legs and back & pelvis area and a blood test. We agreed. I highly recommend Dr. Bellinger, the Good Vet.


The next day we dropped Brody off for sedation and X-rays. We got a call that we could pick him up at 1:30. Then a few minutes later got another call that said he was still groggy and to call back at 3:30.

We eventually were given the OK to pick Brody up. He was still very groggy and needed me to lift him into the back seat of our Elantra. Once home, he could not stand up, his hind legs would not support him unless he was walking. For nearly 5 hours he kept walking and would not lie down. Eventually, he went down and slept. We chalked it up to excessive anesthesia.

The next day, Saturday, Brody was still unable to stand. It was pitiful watching him try to drink water lying down. He still had not eaten and refused all his favorite treats and food. We were VERY CONCERNED.


We left early in order to get to the clinic before they opened – no appointments. We got there 8:45 AM – they open at 9:00 AM on Saturdays. We thought for sure they would rush us in and examine Brody. After all, it had been nearly 24 hours since his X-rays. He should be able to at least stand up.

We had to wait for one and a half hours before the Vet from Hell saw us. During that time, they had Brody in the back in a cage.


Dr. J (Jaramillo) is probably a nice person and at one time a good vet. Running a busy clinic and trying to process so many pets in one day has unfortunately taken its toll on Dr. J.

We had never met Dr. J. Our first encounter with her went like this as she came into the small examining room (Brody was still in the back in a cage.)

“Let me give you an education,” Dr. J said. No introduction. No signs of empathy. Just an iPad with Brody’s X-ray on it.

“Brody has arthritis which has probably spread throughout his body,” she went on. “It is in his rear knee joint.” She pointed to the X-ray. “It can spread rapidly.”

I protested, “He was fine when he came in yesterday for the X-ray. He can’t go lame that quickly.”

“Yes he can,” Dr. J stated authoritatively. “I’ve seen this happen many times and is the main cause of putting a dog down.”

“Not within a few hours!” I countered.

“I see you do not agree with me,” she said.

“No! Not at all,” I said. “Maybe he was given too much anesthesia. Maybe he was dropped. Something is not right here.” I said.

“He was not dropped and I did not give too much anesthesia. He required a lot of drugs to put him out, but he was given the correct dosage,” she said in response. “You are welcome to get a 2nd opinion. I encourage it.”

A few more back and forths and she left the room. Never once showing an ounce of compassion. Our child was in the other room unable to stand up. Unable to stand and eat. Unable to stand long enough to relieve himself. And all Dr. Jaramillo was able to come up with was, this happens. It is not unusual.

She left us sitting there in disbelieve. Now what? Do we stay in this room? Is she coming back? She just left and left us in a state of shock.

We decided to leave the room and go to the front desk and ask for our dog back. The girl at the desk said she needed to get our chart to see what the charges were to be. I said, “I am not paying anything! I brought my dog in here for some simple X-rays and now he is crippled!” She left and came back out and said no charge. We will bring Brody out through the side door – outside of the clinic. I thought, is that so no one sitting and waiting can see what bad shape he was in?

I lifted Brody into the back seat – all 112 lbs. We went home and felt like crying. Our boy, who just the day before was running up the steps, jumping into the car, giving us kisses, is now an invalid.


All day Saturday, Brody slept. He still wouldn’t eat. He drank lying down because his back legs wouldn’t hold him up.

By Saturday evening, I noticed his eyes were a little brighter, more alive. He ate some human lunch meat. My wife slept downstairs with him Saturday night. We had hope.

Sunday, I noticed he was walking better. He was looking more like himself. He was able to stand without his back end slowly going down. Then I noticed he was able to lift his leg when he urinated. Saturday he was barely able to squat and pee.

As the day went on, it looked like we were getting our Brody back. The Brody that just 24 hours earlier the “I know it all” vet was telling us authoritatively that Brody has onset of severe arthritis as a result of a previous leg surgery and being put under for X-rays and being down for a few hours triggered an onset of debilitating arthritis. That she has seen this happen often and has put down many dogs because of it.

  “Brody has onset of severe arthritis as a result of a previous leg surgery and being put under for X-rays and being down for a few hours triggered an onset of debilitating arthritis. I have seen this happen often and have put down many dogs because of it.”

I am glad I did not believe or trust Dr. Jaramillo. Brody is back to normal and is running in the park.


Dr. Jaramillo is at work, dealing with too many pets in one day to be able to do a good job. Get ‘em in, get ‘em out. One to two hour wait. Emergency? Your dog unable to stand up following us giving him X-rays? Wait one and one-half hours and we’ll look and see. Maybe no time to “look and see,  “I’ll just make something up and move on to the next pet.”

Family Animal Hospital in Costa Mesa, CA is not where I would EVER take my pet again. It is NOT a HOSPITAL. It is a CLINIC; an overcrowded, under caring clinic. The front desk staff were nice and Dr. Bellinger was great… but avoid Dr. Lori Jarimillo.

Need a shot? Go to the clinic, it’s cheap. Need medical services? Go to a Veterinary Hospital that takes appointments and can take their time to give proper treatment. It may cost a couple dollars more, but your pet is worth it.

UPDATE: November 13, 2016 – 4 months later. Brody is still doing well, does some running at the park – not too much because of his TPLO leg surgery in Jan. 2015. He goes up and down the stairs with no problem and he climbs up the ramp into my Ford Expedition without a problem. I don’t have a problem with a veterinarian telling me they are not sure what is wrong, but it may be this or that. I do have a problem with any doctor tells me definitively “this is the problem” and to be 100% wrong. Especially when this vet was hinting that we should consider putting Brody down — as she has done many times due to this phenomenon.

Four months later and I still get angry when I think about that experience.

UPDATE: October 29, 2018 – Brody is still alive and doing relatively well. He tore his other ACL – rear left leg’s ACL in January 2018 and we had TPLO surgery performed (at our vet) in May 2018. It has been a long recovery, but he is up and about and goes on short walks. I still give him glucosamine and Truprophin for joint pain. Getting up from lying down is a little difficult, but he manages to push himself up. He goes up the stairs (13 steps) at night to sleep with us in his cage in our room. Going down the stairs is a little more difficult for him but he does it. During the day we block the stairs so he doesn’t try to come up and down.

I still think back to sitting in Family Animal Hospital’s exam room and Dr. Jaramillo suggesting we consider putting Brody down and that his not being able to stand after having X-rays done there was because of sudden onset of severe arthritis. That was over two years ago.

UPDATE: August 2022 – I am sad to report that Brody passed away of natural causes at the age of 12 on August 1, 2022. He died peacefully at home in his sleep. Dr. Jaramillo had suggested putting him to sleep 6 years ago. Brody lived a full life until his final breath. I am glad we did not listen to Dr. Jaramillo 6 years ago.

  1. I’m sorry that someone had a bad experience with Dr.J, but I on the other hand had the exact opposite Dr J had seen and treated my Chihuahua from the time she was 10 until she passed away at age 18. She saw my next dog who at 10 years old was not too healthy when I adopted her until she was 14 and she has seen and treated my desert tortoise who is over 100 years old now. Tomorrow I am taking my newest little dog to see Dr J for the first time because I went to Vetco for a Rabies shot only and paid $94 for vaccinations I did not need and found out she wasn’t even given a rabies shot at all, so I want to make sure my dog is given a better start than going the cheapest route (even though I’ve never paid that much with Family Animal Hospital) in fact Dr J has saved me money many times and I drive 25 miles to see her when I have a vet one block away.

  2. Thanks for posting. Who is your vet? I’m new to the area and have a dog who is having difficulty walking. Let me know.

    • Rita, I’ve used Brookfield Animal Hospital (Magnolia & Garfield) – they are really good. And also Hamilton Animal Hospital (Brookhurst & Hamilton) – also very good. I’ve used Pet Vet (Beach & Adams) – they are good but they don’t take appointments so sometimes there is a long wait. Also, they have two types of treatment – backroom (they take the pet into the back without you) or with the vet where you are present. The latter cost extra. But their prices are reasonable. If you are on the Neighborhood website, there have been several posts on vets others like. I’m not familiar with other vets in the Costa Mesa area – I’m in Huntington Beach near Bushard & Indianapolis (next door to Costa Mesa).

      I personally will never go back to Family Animal Hospital in Costa Mesa…. I’m sure some people really like them – I don’t. Good luck and thanks for leaving the comment.

  3. Thank you for the R&R. I plan on changing vets and was referred to Dr J. So glad I found your post. Lack of empathy and outright refusal to HEAR and COMPREHEND a client seems to be the “norm” these days. Won’t be taking my 2 germ sheps here

    • Your mileage may vary… I had a terrible experience. Plus the fact they do not take appointments and I had to wait over an hour to get in – meanwhile my dog was unable to stand!

      UPDATE: My Doberman that Dr. J. suggested we may want to put to sleep because he was unable to stand 24 hrs. after they sedated him…. is still alive and doing well considering… he had TPLO surgery on his other back leg due to torn ACL a little over a year ago. He tires easily on short walks, awkwardly goes up and down our steps, but otherwise is doing well. Several years after I first posted this!

      I would suggest finding a vet that takes appointments and shows more compassion. You may pay a few dollars more but it is worth it not to have to randomly wait over an hour!

      Thanks for posting here.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about your dog. Losing your best friend is never easy. Considering the circumstances, I don’t blame you for being furious. Regardless whether anything could have been done to save your dog, there should have been better communication.

  5. They took my dogs blood, noted in the file that we bring him in to manage some kidney issue. The problem is they never called us back with blood work results. They never advised us, just noted it in his file then buried it. They have seen my dog in the month between then and Saturday, that is when we put him down, sudden kidney failure. Im dumbfounded they took blood, charged us and never said a word. Im furious………………

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I’m considering were to take my cat as I’m on a very tight budget, I almost went to this place but he has major anxiety just getting in the car and having to wait an hour or is unthinkable for me. I’m glad I did research first!!

    • Hi Marisha – probably a good move to avoid this clinic. As I said in my post, the first doctor that examined my dog (before the x-rays) was very good. We were very impressed with her. It was the 2nd vet, Dr. Lori Jaramillo, that was the bad vet. The long waiting is another reason not to use the clinic – especially if your cat has anxiety issues. The first time we went (thought we would save money), we were told it would be 1-2 hour wait. We left and came back the following morning 20 minutes before they opened and still had to wait a long time. Then when we came back for an “emergency” follow-up visit, we got there 30 minutes before they opened, told them it was an emergency – our dog could not stand up… and they kept us waiting for over an hour! Definitely not worth the few dollars you save. We use Brookfield Pet Hospital (Magnolia & Garfield 714-962-1369). We are happy with them, never have to wait more than 10 minutes. They are not the cheapest vets in town but are reasonable. Good luck with your cat. Thanks for posting.

  7. There are no specific protocols in the Board’s rules and regulations. The circumstances and treatment plan varies for each animal patient, and is at the discretion of the supervising veterinarian. However, if you are concerned about the care and treatment provided to your pet, please file a complaint with the Board through our online BreEZe system. I have included the link for your convenience.


    Thank you,

    Anh-Thu Le
    Enforcement Analyst
    Veterinary Medical Board
    1747 N. Market Blvd., Ste 230
    Sacramento, CA 95834
    Phone: (916) 515-5234
    Fax: (916) 928-6849

    • Thank you for your comment. I do not plan on filing a formal complaint. The veterinarian in question made a bad decision based on either arrogance or lack of specific knowledge on her patient, or a little of both. Someone else in the same situation may be swayed by the veterinarian’s “expert” opinion and have their pet “put down.” My dog, Brody, is doing fine: Running, playing, going up and down the stairs. I’m just glad I did not believe a word of what the veterinarian said to me and my wife while we sat in that room, worried sick about our dog.

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