Saturday, February 16, 2008

Indiana Lets Vet Keep Practising In Spite of Record Going Back 20 Years

In spite of a long history of diverse complaints and violations going back 20 years, Indiana veterinarian Laurence Wilcox Reed continues to see people's pets, thanks to the Indiana Veterinary Board.

Reed's long history of veterinary misdeeds includes misuse of amphetamines on his own dogs to make them more aggressive, transporting controlled substances out of the United States to the Gran Cayman Islands, and patient-care violations that surrounded the death of two dogs in his care, the serious decline of two others in his care, and the mangling of a cat during a "declaw" in which the cats paw pads were partially taken off.

Yet, this vet has missed not one day of work as punishment for these violations thanks to the Indiana Vet Board, which "stayed" its 1989 suspension of his license (meaning he kept seeing people's pets) and put his license on a probation which did not have the effect of protecting anyone's pets from him.

Let's take a look at this bad vet's documented history:

1988. In 1988, the State of Indiana led a complaint against Reed after the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency Complaint Department and an inspector for the Indiana Board of Pharmacy conducted an inspection of Reed's practice at Westchester Animal Clinic. In its complaint, the state said that the inspectors found that -- among other things -- Reed was ordering amphetamines for use in modifying the behavior of his watchdogs and dispensing amphetamines to his daughter.

As for why he gave his dogs these amphetamines -- which according to the State document have no legitimate veterinary use -- the inspectors said Reed told them that "he wanted to 'frighten people into thinking his dog was abnormal.' Stating that the drugs caused the dog to "react 'abnormally' to poeple coming around', the inspectors say he admitted giving his dogs amphetamines to keep them 'hyperalert' so that they would 'scare people away.'"

The inspectors also found that he had repeatedly ordered demerol, even though he admitted there was "no veterinary practice use" for the drug. (Order records showed he had ordered 80cc's and 200 tablets of demerol."

In the case involving giving his dogs uppers, the Vet Board conclused that Reed "has continued to practice although he has bcome unfit to practice veterinary medicine due to (a) professional incompetence; (b) failure to keep abreast of current professional theory or practice"; they also found that he had engaged in cruelty to animals.

After all that you would think they wouldn't want him touching your pets, right? WRONG. Although they put Reed on probation for 3 years, and made him pay $300 bucks and take some classes, he was allowed to continue practising veterinary medicine (although his controlled substance registration was taken away for a year.)

1990. In 1990, another "Findings of Fact" was issued about Reed, that says Reed had been transporting controlled substances to the Grand Cayman Islands. (Hmmm, is that where some of that demerol went???)

In spite of the fact that the State learned that Reed had also taken drugs outside the country to the Grand Cayman Islands (before his controlled substances registration was yanked), the controlled substances advisory committee still argued to give Reed back his controlled substances registration.

Well, they should have known that sooner or later, this kind of behavior would become evident in his treatment of patients. Here we again have a vet who has been found to have committed animal cruelty, still allowed to have patients and practice. Little surprise, then, that the next complaint and findings aren't about drugs -- but instead about patients.

2005. A 10-count complaint is filed against Reed by the Deputy Attorney General regarding his treatment of six animals -- four dogs and two cats. The findings of fact in the case decision are outlined below:

The Case of Max

Max was boarded at Westchester Animal Clinic in February 2003 for a 10-day rabies observation period. At the time he was boarded, he weighed 158 pounds. 10 days later, when his owners picked him up, Max's weight was down to 130 pounds, and he had "numerous open sores, swollen legs, dehydration, and significant weight loss." The owners took Max to another vet, who declared Max to be "in extremely critical condition."

The new vet found that Max was "very depressed, dehydrated, weak, having trouble walking, left hind paw dripping serum and blood, left elbow-also oozing serum and blood. All four limbs are edematous, especially left which is swollen all the way to the elbow. There is an open wound in the elbow."

According to the findings, during the entire 10 days Max was under Reed's care at Westchester, there were no exmainations or care notes made for him. Although Reed had ordered a daily aspirin regimen for Max, it says, there is no documentation that the drug was ever given to Max.

The Case of Georgie, Peanut, and Gracie

Later in 2003, the owners of dogs Georgie, Peanut, and Gracie boarded their dogs with Reed at Westchester so they could go away on vacation.

The dogs owners asked that Peanut and Gracie be put in separate cages. Also, Georgie was on seizure control medications, and the owners asked that Georgie be given those medications.

In spite of the owners request, Reed put Peanut and Gracie in a cage together. The next morning, boththe dogs were found dead in their cage. The vet didn't notify the emergency contact about this until the next day.

Meanwhile, Georgie -- the dog who was supposed to be on seizure meds -- developed kennel cough after two nights boarding at Westchester. When the Board asked Reed where the records were that showed Georgie had been given her seizure medications, Reed told them that the records that the records had been "intentionally destroyed."

The board also found that Reed was allowing technicians and kennel workers to dispense medications.

The Story of Pixie and Miss Thing

In fall 2003 Pixie and Miss Thing's owners, who had adopted the two cats from the humane society, took them into Westchester for a spay and declaw.

The day after the owner picked them up, the owner saw that both cats were bleeding severely from their front paws. So, the owner took Pixie and Miss Thing to another vet to have them looked at. The new vet found that Pixie was hemorrhaging from both front paws. The Findings state that "phalanges from the right paw extended through the skin" (I think this means her bones were sticking out!). "Two paw pads had more than fifty percent of the tissue missing, and the other pads were cut. "

The vet also found that the other cat, Miss Thing, was also hemorrhaging from both frong paws. Many of her paw pads were cut with tissue missing.

In these cases, the Board found that Reed violated three statutes of the veterinary code. You would think after such a long and shocking history, the Board would want to protect the public and their pets by taking away this vets license once and for all, wouldn't you?

Yet, all they did was make him pay a $750 fine and the investigation costs (less than $100) and put him on probation for a year. Probation this time is just as meaningless as it was last time - Reed is still practising. Reed is still seeing -- and endangering -- pets.

Is he seeing YOUR pets?