Dog's death during anesthesia leads Colorado to review licensing rules for veterinary assistants

The accidental death of a family pet that was anesthetized during surgery is causing Colorado to take a closer look at the state's policy of not requiring veterinary assistants to be licensed.

According to Colorado news station CBS4, the death occurred when a mobile veterinarian performed a routine neutering procedure at a family's home. The veterinarian's 16-year-old daughter performed anesthesia while acting as a veterinary assistant during the procedure, CBS4 reported.

Everything was reportedly going as planned until they removed the monitoring equipment and discovered that the 3-year-old Yorkshire Terrier named Buster had passed away. Buster's family told the news that a subsequent necropsy on the dog found no pre-existing conditions that would have caused his death during the operation.

Now Buster's owners have asked the State Board of Veterinary Medicine to look into the matter.

Maulid Miskell, program director of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, said the board will take the matter seriously during its investigation.

"What we've heard so far, what has been alleged, is concerning, and once the board receives a complaint it will look at it," Miskell said. "It's unfortunate a pet died while this happened."

When asked to comment on the story, Colorado Veterinary Medical Association President Peter Hellyer, DVM, reportedly told CBS4 that anesthesia needs to be monitored by a knowledgeable and well-trained veterinary technician who can recognize problems and take action under a veterinarian.