Monday, March 31, 2008

Veterinarians Who Sexually Abuse Children, Installment #2: Monte Whitehead of New Mexico

What is the moral caliber of the people who serve as EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS of State Veterinary Medical Associations?

Well, perhaps MONTE WHITEHEAD, convicted child rapist, is an example.

Whitehead, a Carlsbad, New Mexico Veterinarian, was the Southeast District Director for the New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association in 2005. (See, and

And in 2006 he was arrested for the rape of a child.

According to a January 17, 2007 article in the Albequerque Journal, Whitehead was originally charged with 53 counts (all 53 counts related to sex crimes, according to a subsequent January 2008 article in the Las Cruces Sun News). However, as a result of a plea deal he struck with the District Attorney's office, Whitehead pled guilty to only one count of criminal sexual conduct and four counts of criminal sexual penetration. The rest of the charges were dropped.

The Albuquerque Journal article stated:

"Whitehead was arrested on Jan. 13, 2006, after the then-16-year-old victim told police that the vet had been having sex with her for a year and a half, the Current-Argus reported.

The girl also accused Whitehead of inappropriately touching her and of showing her pornographic photos and videos from the time she was 8 years old, and she said the two had engaged in sex in her home at Whitehead's former place of business, the Animal Care Center, the paper said."

So, that's what was going on after hours at that vets office, folks.

The Las Crucas article said:

"The victim, now a teenager, told the court that Whitehead was every child's worst nightmare.

'He began conditioning me when I was 8 years old," she said. "He would leave porn around for me to see, have videos playing when my mom left the house.'

She said that during a four-year period, starting when she was 12, he had sex with her every day.

'He would threaten me if I wanted to stop,' she said."

Whitehead was sentenced to a total of 75 years on all counts, but then all but 25 years of it were suspended.

Whitehead's lawyer said they would have liked less jail time.

If that all isn't sick enough (it is), Monte Whitehead's wife -- also a veterinarian -- apparetly worked at the Animal Care Center also -- and that is one of the locations where he did this to this young person. (This is based on an online directory that has them both listed at that location -- The Animal Care Center is located at 1302 South Canal Street in Carlsbad.

Does that mean that he had sex with this teen girl right there in the same business that he worked at with his wife?

Nevermind, I don't need to know. It's bad enough as it is.

Scumbag. That word is totally inadequate.

Doesn't it make you wonder about the pets?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Veterinarians who Sexually Abuse Children, Installment #1: Washington State Veterinarian Jack Hyder aka Johannes Krieger

Think all vets have invisible halos floating over their heads? THINK AGAIN.

Jack Hyder, who previously went by the name Johannes Heiter-Krieger, was previously a veterinarian at the Scappoose Veterinary Clinic in Washington. And now he is a convicted child molester who has been sentenced to 10 years in the Washington State Penitentiary. Whose child did he molest? HIS OWN DAUGHTER. In addition to child molestation he was found guilty of "second degree" incest.

So, this guy screwed his own daughter?? Molestation + incest seems to add up to that. Rape charges against him were dropped. So how is it that this guy had incestuous relations with his minor daughter but wasn't charged with rape?

According to published press reports, Hyder, who was found guilty in November 2007 and sentenced in January, "the jury determined that Hyder had abused a position of trust to orchestrate the sexual abuse against his daughter."

Abusing a position of trust -- something so very many veterinarians do, but probably few in this particular way.

The January 2008 article said that "the abuse started against the oldest daughter, who is now 22 years old, in 1994 when the family was living in Ocean Shores, Wash."

OK, that means he started this when she was . . . 8 or 9.

Not that this alone isn't horrible enough -- but if he is doing this kind of thing to his own daughters, how do you think he is probably treating animals when no one is watching? A man so willing to victimize those who trust him, so willing to exploit the weaker and dependent, willing to -- in the words of the jury -- abuse his position of trust . . . ???? For obviously very selfish reasons?

Based on surveys of pet owners and the public, veterinarians continue to enjoy a very high reputation for honesty among the professions. Is is deserved? No, I don't think so -- I think this public perception is the result of the erroneous assumption, fed by the media, children's stories, and propaganda from the profession itself -- that vets are all kindly animal lovers. This blog will primarily feature stories about how vets have failed to merit that inflated perception in terms of their treatment of our pets. However, because it is so important that we -- the pet owning and pet loving public -- realize that vets are NOT all what we believe them to be -- I will also feature stories about vets who are BAD in other ways. Like this one.

But certainly, if he was willing to victimize his own daughter, what might he have done to his clients pets?


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Unmonitored Dog Dies Alone Overnight After Dental in Clinic of Crosby, Texas Vet Harold Wagers

Three days before Christmas, in 2004, "Lilly" the English Bulldog was brought into the office of Crosby, Texas vet Harold Wagers for oral surgery and teeth cleaning. When her owner called to see how things were going, someone at the clinic told her that Lilly had regurgitated food during surgery, but was recovering. Wagers said he had instructed Lilly's owner that she should be "NPO" (no food or water) before the surgery. Lilly continued to vomit.

"At the time of clinic closing, Lilly was still recumbant." (Lying on her side.) Without consulting Lilly's owner, "Wagers decided to keep the dog overnight at the clinic, but no one was at the clinic to do after-hours monitoring. Sometime during the night, Lilly died. A necropsy noted that the probably cause of death was aspiration of gastric content."

The Board said that "Dr. Wagers did not exercise the same degree of humane care, skill and diligence in treating patients as is ordinarily used in the same or similar circumstances by average members of the veterinary medical profession in good standing in Crosby, Texas . . . the patient posed an elevated risk due to the vomiting that occurred during and after surgery. The dog was observed for less than two hours before the clinic closed. Dr. Wagers should have consulted with the owner about the need for continued monitoring, and given the owner the option of an after-hours facility or monitoring at home."

OK, so violations, substandard care, and dead dog. What does the vet board do?

They simply "formally reprimanded" Wagers.

Wow, what strong action. NOT. With pet protectors like the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, no wonder vets don't care if our pets die. Bet vets like Wagers live in fear of you people, huh? NOT.

This is a good example of the awful things that can happen to your pet when they are left unmonitored, alone overnight in a cage at a vet "hospital."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Virginia's Dr. Thomas Kawasaki: A Long Record

Veterinary Boards -- including Virginia -- dismiss the vast majority of complaints they receive. In Virginia, in 2005, only 26% of complaints resulted in discipline.

So, it is the rare and unusual veterinarian who amasses a disciplinary history with a many entries as Virginia's Thomas Kawasaki. This record (available online at the Virginia Vet Board website) includes:

1988 -- Dr. Kawasaki is disciplined by the Board for allowing a person not licensed as a vet in the state of Virginia to perform surgery (spay) on a dog. Reprimand; $500 fine; order to cease and desist from allowing persons unlicensed in VA to perform duties requiring licensure.

1991 -- Dr. Kawasaki is disciplined for ordering surgery without doing pre-operative bloodwork or taking into account prior post-operative bloodwork (The document says that the dogs scrotal sacs were "infected as a result of suspected toxemia of the kidneys following a neutering procedure which had been performed a few weeks earlier. It doesn't say of Kawasaki performed the surgery that led to the kidney toxemia and thus infected scrotal sacs. Hmm . . .)

The vet board gave Kawasaki a reprimand only.

1993 -- Dr. Kawasaki removed a tumor during surgery from a dog named "Claudette" without verifying that it was the tumor that was supposed to be removed. In the same
case, the Board found that he failed to ensure adequate recordkeeping, and failed to keep adequate records regarding anesthetics or medication provided to the dog during surgery.

Again -- what did the Board do? Reprimand ONLY.

1997 (February) -- The Veterinary Board suspends Kawasaki's license as a result of an incident which involved his ingestion of drugs he had diverted (taken) from his Veterinary practice.

1997 (March) -- The Board reinstates Kawasaki's license and puts him on probation.

1999 -- The Board lifts the probation on Kawasaki's license.

2002 -- An inspection of Kawasaki's clinic reveals numerous problems including problems with the drug inventory, the controlled substances distribution log, presence of expired medications in working stock. Also the "surgery suite was not reserved for surgery only . . . the registration certificate for the x-ray machine was not available . . . autoclave packs did not always contain an internal monitor . . . "

Penalty of $250 and additional inspection.

What is of greatest concern to me in this vet's record is his 1991 and 1993 violations, which raise serious questions about his patient care. That combined with the inspection findings as well as the other violations I believe should cause great concern in the mind of anyone who is a current or potential future client of this vet.



As my readers have noticed, I long ago turned off "comments" for a variety of reasons, and any clarifications or additional information I post here is entirely voluntary on my part with respect to "blogged about" vets here. I will rarely do so, and this is one of those rare occasions.

Today I received a rather passionate and heartfelt defense of this vet from someone involved in ferret rescue in Virginia. In this communication, the writer extolled Kawasaki's work with/for ferrets, referring to him as "brilliant", "compassionate," and a "good vet" who is "human" and has made a "few mistakes" over his long career. This writer posited that if this vet were not in practice, the world would be a far worse place for ferrets and ferret rescue in particular.

Out of respect for the apparent sincerity of that testimonial, I print this here.

In spite of this rather compelling and apparently sincere appeal, however, I nonetheless believe that he and others should find cause for concern in this record. I repeat that there are few vets with more than a few violations in their history, although there are many with more shocking ones.

When do a "few mistakes" become a pattern? You need to answer that question for yourself.

You should read the disciplinary history of not only this vet, but any vet you are considering.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Texas Vet Euthanized Dog Against Owners Wishes; Tells Owner the Dog Died on its Own

Plano Texas Vet Paul Burnside was working at the North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic (NTEPC) in Carrolton, Texas, when a Dallas resident brought his dog to NTEPC for "vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy." Burnside, according to the Board document, found that the dog was "severely ill" (although the nature of the illness is not specified, and there is no mention of any tests at all), and reportedly recommended "aggressive treatment." The owner declined due to "financial constraints." Burnside then recommended euthanasia of the dog, which the owner also declined.

Would the owner have possibly come up with the money to treat the dog if given some more time? Would the dog have lived? We will never know, because this vet decided to take matters into his own hands.

According to the vet board document:

"Dr. Burnside decided on his own to euthanize the dog and he told the owner that the dog died while awaiting discharge. He stated in the patient record . . . 'the patient expired on his own.' He also altered the invoice for another animal previously euthanized to account for the Euthasol actually used for [this] dog. Controlled substances records were also altered to attribute Euthasol to another animal."

The Texas Veterinary Board found Dr. Burnside in violation of:

The professional standard of humane treatment, and
Rules related to Honesty, Integrity and Fair Dealing

So, what did the Board do about this egregious behavior?

They gave Burnside a Formal Reprimand. That's it. No fine, no suspension, no probation. What a joke.

Whose right is it to decide when an animal should be euthanized? The owner's, not the vets. Do we know whether or not this dog would have lived if Paul Burnside hadn't taken matters into his own hands and killed him? No, we don't. Perhaps the owner would have come up with the money for treatment. Perhaps the dogs codition was not fatal and he would have lived. Who knows -- there is no mention of any tests or any actual diagnosis, so it's not clear what "aggressive" and expensive treatment Burnside recommended that the owner declined, or what that treatment was for.

What is clear, is that this vet decided to kill this dog, against the wishes of his owner, and then lied about it -- altering hospital records and more. YET, all the Texas Vet Board sees fit to do is give him a reprimand.

Another interesting fact about this case -- Burnside was reported to the Board not by the owner, but by his boss, Kirk Esmond, President of the Board of Directors of the North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic. I personally thank Esmond for being so outraged by this behavior that he reported Burnside.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Death of the Dachshund Magoo Two Days Before Christmas Eve While in the "Care" of Paul Holmberg, Minnesota Vet

This one may make you cry.

Paul Holmberg is a Minnesota vet who was the owner of Phalen Park Veterinary Clinic in St. Paul Minnesota, and practised there, in 2000.

An owner, "M.M.", brought his dachshund Magoo, 14, to Holmberg for a second opinion about a possible hernia.

The Board document says:

[Holmberg] "did not maintain any veterinary medical record of the . . . appointment with Magoo. The only record is a receipt dated November 28, 2000 for an office charge with a notation "poss. inguinal hernia."

"Surgery was scheduled for December 21, 2000." [PLEASE NOTE" This is nearly a month later]. Holmberg "did not perform or offer to perform any pre-surgical laboratory screenings on Magoo. [Holmberg] performed the surgery at about 4:00pm. He corrected bilateral inguinal hernias and an umbilical hernia . . . Magoo was not put on a warmig blanket after the surgery."

That night, Magoo's owner was told that the surgery was a success and that he could pick Magoo up the next morning.

Holmberg, the vet, left the clinic that night at about 9:30pm. And when he did, he LEFT MAGOO UNATTENDED IN A CARRIER overnight, alone, at the clinic.

When Holmberg's assistant arrived in the morning, "she found that Magoo was cold to the touch and difficult to wake." This assistant brought Magoo out to see his owner who showed up that morning, and when she did, Magoo was cold and shaking.

The document said that Holmberg arrived later and that he put Magoo next to a space heater. The document says that "The dog had not urinated since the surgery." Certainly this was an emergency - but it seems that nothing was done about it.

Holmberg gave this dog, who had not urinated, sub-q fluids, torbutrol, and diuretics. But he did not give Magoo IVs, and he did not put him on a warming blanket.

That night Magoo's owner came back. It was now two days before Christmas Eve. Holmberg told the owners that he needed to keep Magoo overnight.

According to the Board document, Holmberg took Magoo home with him. (I am not so sure I believe that. Wouldn't it be a bit out of character for a man who left this dog alone in a CARRIER all night after surgery?)

Still, according to the Board document, that is what he did, and he gave more subqs and unspecified medicines to Magoo. It says that "The dog did not produce urine, did not respond to treatment, and died the following morning."

Merry Christmas to little Magoo's family.

In citing the "deficiencies" in the medical records, the Board said that:

"The record does not contain any medical history."
". . . the record . . . does not explain what type of post-surgical complications occurred, does not contain any post-surgical examination findings and does not contain any treatment plan to address the post-surgical complications."
"The record does not indicate that the dog died."

This board finding is a perfect example of how State Vet Board's merely cite "RECORD-KEEPING violations" when clearly, much more serious things went on -- and in fact, the lack of records indicate a lack of something else -- it's not merely that they DON'T write things down folks, although that's what the board documents would falsely lead you to believe.

The document further says that a Board investigation of the clinic found that Holmberg's clinic "did not meet minimum standards of acceptable practice for housing and sterile surgery in that all animals being held at [Holmberg's] clinic were housed in plastic portable carriers in the surgery room . . . [Holmberg] did not have an x-ray machine . . . "

The Board required Holmberg to get some training related to surgery and record-keeping, offer to do pre-surgical screenings, improve his post-surgical treatment of animals, and replace the carriers with cages. Holmberg's license was made "conditional" on him meeting these conditions . . . but I have to tell you, I don't really trust Boards to check up on these things.


So, here is why Magoo's person is my hero: He filed a lawsuit against Holmberg.

According to a document I found on the web, Magoo's person:

" . . . brought an action against Holmberg in Ramsey County conciliation court, claiming that his dog died because Holmberg illegally advised him and was running an illegitimate business. In July, the conciliation court judge awarded Mierva $350 in compensatory damages and $500 in punitive damages; in August, Holmberg removed the action to district court."

Bottom line is, after this award, Holmberg "moved for partial summary judgment" to limit the owners damage to the "fair market value" of Magoo. Magoo was a 14-year old dachshund, so guess what the market value is?

"When there was no stipulation as to fair market value, a trial on damages was started on May 20. The district court granted Holmberg's motion to dismiss when Mierva stated that he had no evidence that established the dog's fair market value. This appeal follows."

Magoo's owner appealed this unsuccessfully.

So that's it folks: This scumbag Holmberg is basically arguing that his patient had no market value and so he should not be held for damages.

Do you ever want to take your pet to a vet who believes your pet has no value? Who is willing to argue that in court????

But we already knew he considered Magoo and his other patients value-less, didn't we? It was written all over those plastic carriers . . . .


Monday, March 24, 2008

What Do We Do with the Drugged Out Veterinarian, Installment #2

Ah, what a temptation it must be to be able to access narcotics -- at the stroke of a pen. Or at least it would seem so, since it's a temptation so many vets seem unable to avoid. If the behavior only endangered the vet, I wouldn't be writing about it here. But you see -- you don't really want your pet under the scalpel of a vet under the influence, do you?

One such vet is California's Heather Kerr, who ingested such a staggering amount of narcotics (which she obtained under the guise of having a legitimate veterinary use, but then instead took herself!) over a period of 14 years while practising veterinary medicine that it can scarcely be believed.

In November of 2007 a "Decision and Order" went into affect based on a settlement Kerr entered into with the California Veterinary Board, which included a disciplinary order placing her on probation for 5 years. Oh, yeah, the board revoked her license but STAYED the revocation, which means they didn't REALLY revoke it -- she can keep right on practising. And in fact today I found the website, "Kerr Equine Services" -- marketing her "equine sports medicine and surgery." SURGERY?

Um, if you are going to be taking your horse to this woman, there are a few things you ought to know. And before you say -- "Aw, that was over six months ago, she's probably clean by now!" -- Just remember, this woman abused drugs repeatedly over the course of 14 years, do you really think she's clean now? Oh, yeah, she's supposed to be in a rehab program and is supposed to be submitting "biological fluid samples" -- but do you trust her operating on your horse?

Here is the deal: The causes for discipline cited were:


Kerr "purchased, possessed, and handled Oxycodone, under the guise that the narcotics would be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for a legitimate medical purpose in the course of professional practice . . . In 2002 [Kerr] purchased 14,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . . In 2003 [Kerr] purchased 13,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . In 2004 [Kerr] purchased 15,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . . In 2005 [Kerr] purchased 30,000 tablets of Oxycodone . . . In 2006 through April [the beginning of the year] [Kerr] purchased 5,000 tablets of Oxycodone."

"[Kerr] admittedly began diverting and self-administering 4 to 5 tablets of Oxycodone per day but gradually increased dosage so that by September 2006 she was taking 25 to 30 tablets per day."

Kerr "admittedly self-administered Demerol and Morphine on an irregular basis, during the time period between May 1992 and September 2006."

OK, so I looked up Oxycodone and APAP, and this combination is commonly known as Percocet. Could this woman possible take 25-30 percocet a day for so many years? Aside from the "admitted" drug abuse -- does anything else seem weird to you?

Let's do some math.

Kerr said she "gradually" worked up to 25 to 30 tablets of percocet per day.

This is quite unbelievable. But looking at the statistics for her orders 2002-2005, let's just say for the sake of argument that by 2002, she was already up to 25 per day.

25 times 365 days in the year is 9,125. She ordered 14,000 tablets that year. What happened to the nearly 5,000 she didn't gobble?

And at her height, she was supposed to be ingesting 30 of these per day. 30 times 365 is 10,950. Yet, in 2005, she ordered 30,000 of them. What happened to the 19,000 tablets she didn't gobble?

Is it even possible for someone to take 25-30 a day and survive? Apparently so -- there are people who have done it -- (see; but you would be really messed up and not in any shape to practice any kind of medicine!

But to consume 30,000 pills, she would have to take over 80 a day. And that's just not possible So -- I ask again -- what about the other 19,000 pills?

This Board document doesn't accuse her of selling, and I have no proof of that. But it sure seems fishy to me.

Academically speaking, according to, "The major source of oxycodone to the street has been through forged prescriptions, professional diversion through unscrupulous pharmacists, doctors, and dentists . . . " etc.

So hypothetically speaking of course, if a vet WERE selling this drug -- let's say, 19,000 tabs in a year -- how much black market income would that yield? According to that same article, oxycodone sells on the black market for about 50 cents to $1 per milligram. Let's split the difference at 75 cents. At 5 mgs a tablet, let's say, that's 3.75 each. 19,000 would be $71,250.

Now, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, and the reader is reminded that there is nothing in the state findings saying that Dr. Kerr ever did such a thing.

But it's all very interesting . . . that and the unnaccounted for, ungobbled 19,000 pills.

Back to the safety of our pets -- why would someone totally high on percocet NOT be someone you want operating on your pet?

Well, some people describe the feeling they get on this drug as "zoned out." If someone has ingested 30 of these babies in a day, it's a pretty good bet they don't have their wits about them to practice good medicine on you pet.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Do We Do with The Drugged Out (and Allegedly Negligent) Vet? Installment 1

This is the first drugged out vet we will talk about but it won't be the last. There are a lot of these . . . and this story shows that drug use by a veterinarian may not be a victimless crime -- because their drugged out state effects their ability to do their jobs and this of couse can endanger the life of pets.

This one is Todd Alan Cooney, DVM, of North East Animal Clinic in Kokomo, Indiana.

In March of 2005, the State of Indiana filed a complaint against Todd Cooney, citing the following facts:

"On or about January 31, 2005, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported to the Indiana Office of the Attorney General that [Cooney] had been under investigation for failure to comply with Federal Requirements pertaining to controlled substances. As a result, [Cooney] surrendered his DEA registration."

"On or about August 23rd, 2004, [Cooney] was found at his residence by family members unresponsive due to an intravenous overdose of Ketamine and was hospitalized. [Cooney's] family discovered used syringes and multiple vials of ketamine on the premises."

"[Cooney] entered the substance abuse treatment program at Rush in Chicago, Illinois in September 2004 . . . [Cooney]relapsed and began using ketamine and valium while working at his clinic shortly after his release from Rush . . . [Cooney] subsequently entered a substance abuse treatment program in New Mexico but failed to complete the program."

"[Cooney] has exhibited signs of being under the influence while on duty at his practice. Staff report [Cooney] has appeared slow, staggering, and confused while at work."

"On or about November 5, 2004, [Cooney] was scheduled to spay a dog and repair an umbilical hernia. [Cooney] performed surgery but noted only an umbilical hernia in the medical records. Subsequent lab tests and exploratory surgery revealed that [Cooney] failed to spay the animal."

"On or about January 11, 2005, Marion County Sherriff Deputies were called by [Cooney's] sister . . . who reported [Cooney] had physically assaulted her after she attempted to determine whether [Cooney] had any needles/syringes at her parents home. [His sister] was concerned that [Cooney] may have exposed her children to needles . . . "

"[Cooney] has admitted to the DEA that he has abused Ketamine . . . On or about February 8, 2005, the Office of the Attorney General received additional information from the DEA that the police had been called to [Cooney's] veterinary practice over an altercation between [Cooney] and other staff members."

The Board allowed Cooney to continue practising on probation. For one year, the terms of this probation included limiting his practice to work as a research and diagnostic parasitologist at Purdue University -- in other words, thankfully not working at a vet clinic. There were no fines, and at this time, Cooney would no longer be barred from working at a clinic.

In 2007, the Board decided that it would allow Cooney to reapply for his DEA licensed.

And, quite frighteningly, I found this website with a listing for a Kokomo, Indiana business("Noah's Ark Kennels and Grooming") declaring: "We are now a full veterinary clinic. Dr. Todd Cooney is back. $5.00 off grooming."

OK, you couldn't PAY me to take my pet there.

There is also a cryptic agenda item on the agenda of the Indiana Controlled Substances Advisory Committee for September 28, 2007 -- pretty recently. Under "Personal Appearances" this agenda lists Todd Cooney, DVM, and next to his name are the words "Positive Response." Does this mean he tested positive on a drug test?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Not-So-Innocent Georgia Vet Who Held a Dog Hostage

In Fall of 2007, the story broke of Josh Gomez and his pup, a Border Collie named Pilot -- who was held hostage by Georgia Veterinarian Garry "Innocent."

Gomez took Pilot in to see Innocent at PetFIRST Animal Hospital in Duluth, Georgia, where Pilot was diagnosed with parvovirus. Parvovirus is an intestinal virus that can be lethal to dogs. According to news accounts, Innocent gave Gomez an estimate of $1,125 to treat Pilot. But when Gomez, a music teacher, returned to get Pilot, he was presented with a bill for several hundred dollars more than that estimate.

Having made arrangements to get the money needed to pay the original estimate, Gomez paid the $1,125. But Innocent refused to release Pilot until the balance was paid, and then immediately began tacking on boarding fees of $27 a day additional for every day he held Pilot hostage.

Innocent told Gomez that if he didn't come up with the balance (which was growing by the day as he held the dog), he would turn the dog over to animal control, where he might be euthanized. Later, after the media got wind of this story and it began to get some publicity, Innocent changed his threat -- saying instead he would give Pilot away to someone elese.

Gomez filed a lawsuit in Gwinnett Superior Court to try to stop Innocent from sending Pilot to the shelter.

But then a good samaritan stepped forward, to pay the balance of the bill, and Pilot and Gomez were reunited.

Although Georgia law allows vets to "dispose of" pets when a bill is unpaid, considering the animal abandoned -- the law is one thing, and what's right is another.

In our book, Dr. Garry Innocent of PetFIRST Animal Hospital in Duluth, Georgia is a


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vets and Our Food Supply: Danger?

In Texas, veterinarian Woodrow Isbell was reprimanded by the veterinary board for actions that affect our FOOD SUPPLY and raise some serious general questions about whether or not some vets are endangering NOT ONLY or pets' health, but also our own.

On July 13, 2005, the FDA issued a warning letter to Blair Freeman of Ben Franklin, Texas, because he had presented a cow for slaughter that "contained residual gentamicin, an antibiotic."

According to FDA documents unrelated to this case, "No tolerance has been established for gentamicin in the kidney tissues of cattle as codified in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, section 556.300 (21 C.F.R. 556.300). The presence of this drug in the kidney tissue from this animal causes the food to be adulterated within the meaning of section 402(a)(2)(C)(ii) [21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(2)(C)(ii)] of the Act." (The test for presence of gentamicin is generally done on the kidney tissue.)

So, adulterated beef in our food supply? What's Dr. Isbell's responsibility for that?

According to the Board document, Isbell provided gentamicin prescriptions to Randy Freeman, Blair's grandfather, through a company called Walco International, Inc. The Board said: "Drug prescriptions would only be appropriate if there was a valid veterinarian-client-patient (VCP) relationship between Dr. Isbell and Randy Freeman, who owns a beef cattle operaation."

However, the Board said, "it is not clear that a valid VCP existed during the time that many of the prescriptions were authorized. In addition, the relatively large number of gentamicin prescriptions to Randy Freeman from Dr. Isbell indicates that usage is more than required from a normal-sized beef cattle operation. Dr. Isbell made only one on-site visit to Randy Freeman, on November 22, 2004. However, Dr. Isbell's records indicate that over 200 bottles of gentamicin were shipped to Randy Freeman prior to Dr. Isbell's on-site visit (and before a VCP relationship was established)."

So, what did the Board do after recognizing that Isbell's actions may have played a part in adulterating our food supply? All they did was reprimand him. That's it.

So what danger does gentamicin in the food supply post to we humans? Well, it seems that people don't definitively know -- which is perhaps why the FDA does not allow measurable levels of gentamicin to be present in beef. Many people believe that, in general, contamination of our food supply with antibiotics has played a part in development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

Here is an article called "Molecular Characterization of Gentamicin-Resistant Enterococci in the United States: Evidence of Spread from Animals to Humans Through Food."

This article is:
"High-Level Gentamicin Resistant Enterococci and Quinupristin/Dalfopristin Resistant E. faecium from Ground Pork Purchased from Grocery Stores."

Here is information on the use of antibiotics in our food source -- many references to the adulteration of food with gentamicin:

Texas Vet Board link: I found it very interesting that out of 9 members, 3 -- fully 1/3rd -- were recused from voting. Hmm, is this because they know Isbell? And does the lenient action by the board -- a reprimand only -- have anything to do with that?

Also see

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lucy Lu the Dog Dies Months After Questionable Treatment of her Symptoms with "Extremely High . . . Improper" Dose of Antibiotics

In Nevada, an owner brought her dog Lucy Lu in to see veterinarian Benjamin Davis. You see, Lucy Lu was now showing the same symptoms that the owners other dog, Squeakee, had been showing: bloody stools.

Without doing any diagnostic tests -- no blood work, no urinalaysis, no fecal culture -- Dr. Davis gave the owner a prescription for the antibiotic "metronidazole," otherwise known as Flagyl. This was the drug he had already been giving to Squeakee. The Board document says:

Davis "increased [Squeakee's] dose and started Lucy on an extremely high dose without scheduled rechecks or communication to the owner advising them of possible side affects to the high dose that was given."

What side effects is the Nevada Board talking about?

Well, an article in DVM News Magazine explains that metronidazole can cause neurological toxicity at high doses:

"Adverse effects in dogs and cats include neurologic disorders, lethargy, weakness, neutropenia, hepatotoxicity, hematuria, anorexia, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Neurotoxic effects include encephalopathy, cerebellovestibular signs and periopheral neuropathy. Neurotoxicity following prolonged therapy is most often related to cumulative dose and duration of treatment. Most canines who develop neurologic signs secondary to metronidazole administration have received weeks to months of therapy, but toxicity after short-term therapy at relatively low dosages


About 2 weeks after Davidson started Lucy Lu on this drug, her owners had to rush her to an emergency veterinary hospital with neurological symptoms. "She was treated and released the following morning with the presumed diagnosis of Flagyl neurologic toxicity with recovery being uneventful."

Yet, six months later, Lucy Lu was again rushed to an emergency vet for "vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, and anorexia." The next day, she died.

I have many questions about why this happened to Lucy Lu.

One thing I notice is the hepatotoxicity of metronidazole as cited in the DVM News article -- toxicity to the liver.

But the other thing I notice is that:

a) Lucy Lu's symptoms (bloody diarrhea) were the same as that of her canine companion. This might have indicated a communicable disease.

b) The thing that comes up most prominently when you search "bloody diarrhea", either by itself or combined with the other symptoms Lucy had -- "vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia -- is parvovirus, a highly contagious disease.

The Board found that Davidson's conduct in his treatment of Lucy Lu constituted "incompetence , in that [he] administered an improper dose of metronidazole based on a physical examinationa and the medical history of another family pet. Dr. Davidson did not recommend any further diagnostics, schedule any follow-up, or advise the cliet of any side effects of the drug."

So, did Lucy Lu get a drug that not only caused her horrible side effects, but also wasn't treating what was really wrong with her? Did Lucy die of something related to the "hepatotoxicity" of this drug she was given at "extremely high . . . improper" doses?

Or did she die of a disease like parvovirus, that she might have survived had she been appropriately treated?

I don't know the answer to those questions -- but I do know that it seems Dr. Davidson did her more harm than good.

R.I.P., Lucy Lu.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Scott Gartner, Moves His Questionable Veterinary Practice From Arkansas to Missouri After Arkansas Finds Him to Have Committed Professional Misconduct

The shocking thing about the story of Scott Gartner is that the Missouri Veterinary Board granted him a license -- albeit one issued and placed immediately on probation for 5 years -- in spite of the fact that not only did he relocate to Missouri after Arkansas already issued disciplinary findings against him and placed him on probation (yet another case of a Bad Vet moving his practice to another state after racking up a disciplinary record in the state he is leaving), but that they did so even after the Arkansas Board found him to have committed professional misconduct, gross negligence, and incompetence. Guess they really want the best for Missouri's pets!

In the document in which Missouri issued the probated license to Gartner, they said:

". . . the Board hereby issues License No. 2006027550 to Gartner . . . subject to the terms and conditions set forth heren below.

"Dr. Gartner is also licensed by the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Board . . . On or about September 12, 2005, Dr. Gartner's Arkansas license was placed on probation for a period of five (5) years for unprofessional conduct, failing ot provide appropriate treatment and failing to maintain complete patient records . . .

"Within the Arkansas Consent Agreement, the Arkansas Board made the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law:

Findings of Fact

1. [Gartner] is a licensed veterinarian in the State of Arkansas.
2. [Gartner] was an employee and on the premises of Edwards Veterinary Clinic on February 25, 2005.
3. On April 14, 2005, the Board received a certified complaint answer from Tiffany Vallance, a veterinary assistant at Edwards Veterinary Clinic, advising that she performed a surgical declaw on Ms. Carrie Gordon's cat, Wally, on February 25, 2005 and that she performed feline declaws in a regular basis since the time she was hired in September 2001.
4. [Gartner] allowed a lay person, Tiffany Valance, to perform a veterinary surgical procedure.
5. [Gartner] did not recall administering anesthesia to Ms. Gordon's cat, and the medical record had no entires regarding record of medications, treatment, progress and disposition of the case.
6. The patient record forwarded to the Board was incomplete."

Conclusions of Law

. . .
"2. By allowing a layperson who is not a licensed veterinarian in the State of Arkansas to perform a surgical procedure, Respondent violated A.C.A. 17-101-305(a)(6) and 17-101-305(a)(11) and Board Regulations 19B, 19J, 19O entitled "Unprofessional Conduct."

3. By not providing appropriate treatment, Respondent violated A.C.A. 17-101-305(a)(5) and Board Regulations 19F and 19L.

4. By not keeping complete patient records, Respondent violated A.C.A. 17-101-305(a)(11) and Board Regulation 9A entitled "Record Keeping."

The Missouri Board, in interpretig the findings of the Arkansas Board, said:

"6. Licensee's conduct as referenced in paragraph 5, constitutes incompetency, misconduct and gross negligence in violation of section 340.264.2(4), RSMo 2000.

7. Licensee's conduct as referenced above in paragraph 5, constitutes a violation of a professional trust or confidence.

8. Licensee's conduct as referenced in paragraph 5, constitutes disciplinary action against the holder of a license or other right to practice granted by another state upon grounds for which revocation or suspension is authorized in this state . . . "

So what did the Board do to this vet -- after he committed -- in their own words -- incompetency, misconduct and gross negligence? After all, they pointed out to him that these actions could be grounds for revocation or suspension of a license in Missouri. So is that what they did?

NO, OF COURSE NOT! They granted his request for a license and issued it to him!

I guess they want to roll out the welcome mat for vets who will treat Missouri's pets in the manner to which the board apparently believes they have the right to be treated -- that is, incompetently, and with gross negligence.

Oh, yes, they placed the license on probation -- but what does that mean? Not much.

Welcome to Missouri, Dr. Gartner.

Missouri Pet Owners -- WATCH OUT and PROTECT YOR PETS!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Multiple Instances of Bad Vettery on the Part of Paul Deal in Maryland

Veterinarian Paul Deal, owner of Countryside Animal Hospital in Oakland, Maryland, is one of few veterinarians who have wracked up multiple Board disciplinary actions in just the last few years.

The three cases involve Deal's treatment of Angel the Cat; Porky, the Irish Wolfhound; and Zoey, the Labrador.

These cases also show how the Maryland Board gives the vets the benefit of the doubt when they claim they did something, but there is no proof of it in the record. Because repeatedly, when there is no record of Deal doing something he SHOULD have done for a patient, intead of finding him in violation of regulations for NOT doing that thing, they simply find him to have violated record keeping statutes -- in other words, they assume he did it but just didn't write it down. A vet could CLAIM ANYTHING, make up any fiction, and the State Board would take his word for it, but just assume that he failed to write it down. This behavior on the part of the Maryland State Board violates a fundamental precept in medical record-keeping: If it isn't written down, it didn't happen. But the Boards -- even when disciplining vets -- bend over backwards to believe their versions of events, no matter what the client and the records say. I have a little bit of personal experience with this phenomena.

The Case of Zoey the Labrador

In summer 2005, Zoey's owner brought Zoey -- a 6-year old Labrador -- in to see Dr. Deal after Zoey had reportedly jumped out of a window and broken her left front leg.

The Board document states:

"Dr. Deal examined Zoey after assuming her care, but he did not record his findings in the patient's record (excepting the notation that the dog weighed 72 pounds). In answering [the owner's] complaint against him with the Board, Dr. Deal states that, after physicially examining Zoey's left front leg, he discovered a fracture at the distal end of the radius, bu found the skin to be intact. Assuming this statment is true, Dr. Deal failed to record this and other pertinent information in the patient's record including, but not limited to, the dog's temperature and pulse."

"Dr. Deal did not radiograph Zoey's front leg that night. He did administer morphine to the dog, and then confined her in a cage for the night."

[OK, do you not find this ridiculous? How can you properly and thoroughly characterize a break if you do not take x-rays? Why did he not take x-rays until the following day?]

"On or about the following day, Dr. Deal radiographed Zoey's leg, entering the following notation in the patient's record: 'X-ray radius/ulna - fx [fractured] distal radius and ulna with overriding.' Dr. Deal, however, did not describe the fracture to [Zoey's owner] after radiographing Zoey's leg. Likewise, Dr. Deal did not obtain [Zoey's owner's] consent before proceeding with his plan to manage the dog's fractured leg, that being: performing a closed reduction and external coaptation."

Um, yeah, I had to look that up -- it's surgery. He didn't talk to the owner to get her consent to do this surgery, she probably didn't even know he was doing it.

The Board continues:

"Dr. Deal examined Zoey before anesthetizing the dog and performing the surgery upon her, but he did not record his findings in the patient record."

Um, if he didn't record anything in the record, how do they know he adequately examined her before anesthetizing her???? Just because he SAYS SO, right? This is a good example of how the Board believes what the vet says in the absence of evidence, knowing very well the vet could be lying, and I am certain that in general, the vets often do lie and SAY they did thing they know they should have done, but did not do, or vice versa. The deck is stacked against pet owners because these boards -- vets themselves -- just believe whatever unsubstantiated crap flows out of these vets mouths.

"Likewise, following surgery, Dr. Deal did not record in the patient's record the progress and disposition of the case."

Hey, BOZO board. Maybe the reason he didn't record anything is because he wasn't even monitoring the dog, ever occur to you?

"On or about the same day, Dr. Deal dischared Zoey to [her owner's] care. If Dr. Deal instructed [Zoey's owner] on how to care and manage Zoey until such time that the dog could be seen by her regular veterinarian, Dr. Deal did not record this event in the patient's record."

So, after all that, what did the Board find that Dr. Deal did wrong?

RECORDKEEPING VIOLATIONS. Penalty = $500 and a STAYED suspension (which is a meaningless paper suspension -- not 1 day of work missed). They also gave him 6 months probation, but the only conditions of probation are not to violate regulations, which is a silly condition since it is a condition that always applies to all vets all the time, there is no punitive element to it.

The Case of Porky the Irish Wolfhound

In spring of 2004 Porky's owner brought Porky, a 4-year old Irish Wolfhound, in to Dr. Deal because Porky was having seizures.

The Board document says:

"In answering [Porky's owner's] complaint against him with the Board, Dr. Deal provided a short history of Porky's condition as it pertained to the dog's medical status; that being: Porky had been previously treated for seizures by a veterinarian in Ohio, but was no longer receiving this treatment (if [the owner] informed Dr. Deal of the particular treatment that the Ohio veterinarian had prescribed (e.g., the amount and frequency of any medication provided), Dr. Deal did not note it). Dr. Deal also provided his initial diagnosis of Porky's condition; that being: Status epilepticus."

"In the record . . Dr. Deal did not provide the aforementioned short history of Porky's condition as it pertained to his medical status. Likewise he did not provide his initial diagnosis."

"Assuming Dr. Deal thoroughly examined Porky (phsyically and neurologically) when the dog was first presented, excepting his weight and that the dog was having trouble breathing, he did not record his findings in the patient's record, including, but not limited to, the dog's temperature (the failure to record and monitor Porky's temperature is particularly problematic because increased temperatures commonly occur in dogs with status epilepticus.)"

". . . Dr. Deal administered diazepam [valium] intravenously to the dog, and made the following comment in the patient's record: "achieved desired effect" - suggesting that the medication had terminated Porky's seizure activity. Dr. Deal, howeer, provided no details in the patient's record documenting that this had actually occurred." [Then how in the world do we know that it did occur?] "That same day Dr. Deal also provided a two week supply of Phenobarbital at a dosage of 64 mg BID (less than the recommended dosage of 2-8 mg/kg BID.) If this dosage was the maintenance dosage that the Ohio veterinarian had prescribed to treat Porky's seizure problem, Dr. Deal did not note this in the record." [Why would they assume that when it is the wrong dose -- an inadequate amount? Porky weighed 100 pounds. That is 45.36 kilograms. If the Board's statement that the recommended dose of this drug is 2-8 mg/kg, then Porky's dose should have been a minimum of 90 mg, up to 362 mg.]

"On Monday, June 14 . . . Porky paid a return visit to Dr. Deal. In the patient's record for this date, Dr. Deal noted that Porky reportedly had repetitive seizures over the weekend. Another entry suggested that Dr. Deal may have examined Porky that day. Assuming this examination occurred, however, Dr. Deal did not record his observations in the patient's record." [Then how do they know it occurred? Becase he says so?]

"Dr. Deal did renew the Phenobarbital prescription that day, but failed to specify in the patient's record how much medication was dispensed, and thus, how long the medication should continue."

" . . . Dr. Deal made no entries in the patient record stating how the dog's seizure disorder was responding to the prescribed treatment."

What did the Board find him on?


The Case of Angel the Cat.

Angel was a 5-year old cat. Angel's owner brought her into Dr. Deal's hospital because he had a urethral obstruction.

The Board document says:

"If Dr. Deal examined Angel that day, after assuming the cat's care, he did not record his findings in the patient's record (excepting the notation that the cat weighed 10 pounds)."

"After removing the obstruction, Dr. Deal expressed the cat's bladder completely. Dr. Deal made the following notations in the patient's record concerning the cat's post-surgical condition: "urine very bloody," "severe cyanosis developed after the bladder expressed," [cyanosis is when you turn blue from lack of oxygen!], "responded to intubation and room air resuscitation," "tomcat catheter intalled and left overnight," "Metacam overnight for pain." Dr. Deal did not record the dosage of Metacam that Angel received."

OK -- here is a big thing. Metacam is an NSAID -- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. This drug should be used with GREAT CAUTION in cats if at all. The veterinary information network says "the wrong dose of meloxicam [Metacam] can be very dangerous for cats"; it also says:

"It is also important that NSAIDS not be given to dehydrated patients because of this potential side effect [of reducing blood flow to the kidneys]. This is particularly true in cats."

I mention this because the board document notes that Dr. Deal "did not administer fluid therapy to Angel"; this combined with the Metacam is very concerning for a variety of reasons. The Board document says:

"failure to administer subcutaneous fluid to an obstructed cat to correct subclinical dehydration, meet maintenance fluid requirements, and keep up with losses from potential post-obstructive diuresis, constitutes substandard care."

"On the following day, Dr. Deal discharged Angel to [her owner] . . . " On or about June 23, 2005, Angel was returned to Dr. Deal. "Dr. Deal's notations in the patient's record concerning this visit consist of the following remarks: "SICK" [no duh -- did you go to vet school to be able to render such brilliant diagnoses?]; "bladder is not emptying properly but no plugged - expressed bladder with no resistance," "healthy appearance to urine - owner insisted on taking patient home against advice," "recheck tomorrow.' If Dr. Deal physically examined Angel on that date, he did not record his findings in the patient's record."

OK dear reader, am I the only one who suspects a little retroactive notations in the record here?

This guy didn't write anything down in the records -- doesn't record the patient's vitals, doesn't record things hardly at all anyway as the Board says, but somehow, he produces a record that says "owner insisted on taking patient home against advice" once a complaint has been filed against him? Do you smell some CYA going on?

This record doesn't tell you what happend to Angel, but I am betting that he died. Being giving potentially kidney toxic metacam while being given no fluid support as sick as he was -- that doesn't bode well.

The Board found Deal yet again in violation of a slew of recordkeeping counts, and one instance of substandard care for failure to give Angel fluids.

For these two cases (Porky and Angel) Deal was fined $1,700 and got a stayed suspension for 2 weeks -- again, meaningless; it is a paper-only suspension and the vet loses not ONE minute of work; and he was placed on probation for 6 months, but that too is meaningless, since the only condition of probation is that he pay the fine he already has to pay and that he not break any regulations -- which apply to all vets at all times - so HOW is that a condition of probation?
"Don't break the laws you shouldn't have broken in the first place?"

Another Bad Sign about Deal and his practice: The entire practice apparently -- according to the website -- consists of him, his wife, and his daughter. Bad sign. Exactly what kind of objective third party testimony do you think is every going to be given by other people at that practice? Do you think they cover for each other?

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Spay Deaths -- Texas Vet Stanley Wolfe

In 2005, the Texas Veterinary Board adopted findings of fact in a case against Texas Veterinarian Stanley Wolfe, which included the following:

"On August 19, 2003, [an owner] of Wylie, Texas presentd the patient, his two and a half year-old pregnancy cat, "Itty Bitty Kitty," to the Parker Road Veterinary Clinic in Wylie, Texas for an ovariohysterectomy . . . [Wolfe] performed the surgery on the patient."

". . . During surgery, [Wolfe] placed several gauze pads in the incision to keep the intestine in the peritoneal cavity during exteriorization of the uterus."

"During the surgery, life-threatening complications arose, including a drop in oxygen saturation, apnea, hemorrhaging, a drop in body temperature, and severe bradycardia. [Wolfe] closed the incision, and the patient was placed on an electric heating pad following surgery."

"The patient died around 6:00 p.m., four to five hours after the surgical procedure ."

[OK, here comes the rub:]

"During and following surgery, [Wolfe] failed to catheterize the patient, to provide intravenous fluid therapy, or to provide any other method of delivering fluids to the patient. Such fluid therapy was essential to maintain the patient's blood pressure and to prevent shock when the hemorraging occurred."

Wolfe's "records do not mention catheterization attempts and do not state the reasons for [his] failure to initiate fluid therapy during or after surgery."

Wolfe "left two gauze pads in the area of the patient's left kidney and ovary."

The outcome of this shocking tale is that the Texas Board issued a "formal reprimand" to Wolfe and fined him $1,000. Is that enough?

Poor itty bitty kitty. R.I.P.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Careless Vet's Use of Ketamine Without Evaluating Feline Patient "Falls Below the Standard of Care" in Maryland

Veterinarian Dennis Foster owns Dundalk Animal Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. In summer of 2005, "Kitty", a 12-year old male cat, was brought by his owner to Foster on an emergency basis.

According to the records, "Kitty had been losing weight for several weeks and was constipated. The entries also state that Kitty was 'weak, dehyrated," had a temperature of 100F, weighed 11.5 pounds, and that his pelvic outlet was swollen."

Dr. Foster didn't write anything in the records about feeling a "mass" in Kitty's colon, but AFTER the owner filed a complaint against him, he told the Board that when Kitty was brought to him "a ten inch rock-hard mass was palpated in the [cat's] colon." The Board stated that Dr. Foster did not record Kitty's respiratory rate and "other pertinent information that should have been noted describing the cat's physical condition at the beginning of custody."

The Board document says:

"Dr. Foster administered four enemas and fluids to Kitty. Dr. Foster, however, failed to note in the patient's record the volume and type of fluid that was used to administer the enemas. Similarly, Dr. Foster failed to record the volume and type of fluid that was used to administer fluid therapy to the cat."

[Hmmm. He never wrote it down, but NOW, after a complaint has been filed, he says he did it. Do you believe him now?]

The document goes on to say that Foster told the Board that "the enemas were not successful in removing the colonic mass." But the Board says that Dr. Foster failed to record this information at the time.

Here is where it gets more shocking:

"Despite Kitty's age and condition at presentation, Dr. Foster performed none of the standard routine diagnostic tests indicated in these circumstances (e.g. complete blood count, serum chemistries, and urinalysis) to help ascertain the underlying cause of the cat's constipation and existence of any complicatiosn due to the constipation (e.g., electrolyte abnormalities)."

Apparently, Foster kept Kitty overnight, because the document says:

"For July 19, 2005, the patient's record specifies that Kitty was 'still constipated.' To relieve the impaction, Dr. Foster determined that manual removal of the colonic mass was necessary. To perform this procedure, Dr. Foster sedated Kitty, using Ketamine."

What in the heck are they talking about here? SURGERY? This is what I mean about these board documents -- they obfuscate what occurred. Did he tell the owner he was going to perform this "procedure?"

The Board says: "Ketamine is a controlled dangerous substance. It also is a rapid-acting agent. Its pharmacologic action is characterized by profound analgesia, immobilization, normal pharyngeal-laryngeal reflexes (which, because they remain active, may lead to and increase laryngospasm, bronchospasm, and coughing), mild cardiac stimulation, and respiratory depression. Ketamine also has the potential to increase respiratory secretions, which may cause the airway to become obstructed.

"For these reasos, before administering Ketamine to an animal, standard veterinary care requires the veterinarian to examine the animal and evaluate its condition. In this case, given the cat's condition and the fact that Ketamine is excreted from the kidneys, the examination and evaluation called-for in these circumstances should also have included an assessment of the cat's renal function."

"Dr. Foster, however, failed to perform such an evaluation. If he did, he did not note this in the patient's record."

"On July 19, 2005, Dr. Foster also administered one enema to Kitty."

[WHAT???? On top of the "procedure" he did this? ]

"Dr. Foster, however, again failed to note in the patient's record the volume and type of fluid used for the enema. Dr. Foster also administered fluids to Kitty. Although he did identify in the patient's record the type of fluid that was administered to Kitty (to wit: lactated ringers solution), Dr. Foster failed to record the volume administered."

"Dr. Foster did note in the patient's record that he was able to remove 85% of the colonic mass."

[During the "procedure'????]

"Assuming the cat was being monitored after he performed this procedure, Dr. Foster failed to record Kitty's progress and response to treatment in the patient's record. Excepting a notation (for what appears to be July 20, 2005) indicating the cat's temperature to be 100F" [this is subnormal by about 2 degrees], "the patient's record contains little, if any, information about the cat's condition. This is the case for both July 19, 2005 (when Dr. Foster was still present at the hospital) and July 20, 2005 (when the cat was discharged, and the day on which Dr. Foster's assistant - Dr. Terrence Maskol - also assumed care of this animal). For example, in his written response to [the owner's] complaint, Dr. Foster notes that his assistant, Dr. Maskol, recommended on July 20, 2005 that Kitty remain hospitalized, but there is nothing in the patient's record explaining why he had made this recommendation."

The Board found Dr. Foster in violation of recordkeeping requirements on several points. But as a discerning reader might perceive from reading this, it seems that more serious things than recordkeeping violations may have taken place. When a vet doesn't write things down, nothing is in the record, BUT LATER, after a complaint is filed, he claims he did certain things, it is HIGHLY suspicious.

They also found Foster in violation of the standard of care, saying:

"Given Kitty's age and condition . . . " Dr. Foster should have perfomed standard diagnostic tests.


"Given Ketamine's pharmacologic action and the fact that it is excreted from the kidney's, and given the age and condition of the cat (to whit: Kitty's stated weight loss, dehydration, anorexia, and weakness, conditions that result from renal failure), in failing to evaluate the cat before administering this drug, including assessing the cat's renal function Dr. Foster's care fell below the minimal standard required of a veterinarian in this State."

Obviously, this Board document leaves some glaring questions, most importantly:


What motivated the owner to file the complaint, and why is kidney function repeatedly emphasized? Did Kitty go into acute renal failure after this "procedure" and after receiving the Ketamine? Did Kitty die?

Clearly, BOTH of these things COULD HAVE resulted from Foster's actions, which in my viewpoint are careless.

Do you see how you have to read between the lines on these Board actions?

What happened to Foster as a result of these violations????

Well, his license was suspended for ONE month -- BUT, the suspension was STAYED. That means, not enforced -- he missed not one day of work.

He was placed on probation for six months and ordered to pay a penalty of $2,100.

But WHAT became of Kitty?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York Vet Johannes Gives 2 Collies Drug Known to Cause Potentially Deadly Reactions in Members of the Breed

The New York State Veterinary Board charged New York Vet Eugene Johannes with "practising the profession of veterinary medicine with gross incompetence" when he gave ivermectin to two collie dogs. Johannes did not contest these charges and signed a consent order.

While working as a vet in Allegany County New York in 2005, Johannes gave this Ivermectin to two collie dogs, and "failed to recognize a known potential lethal side effect," the charges state.

Like many veterinary board documents, these documents do not say whether one or both of the collies did in fact, die, or become very ill. But A COMPLAINT was filed that led to this finding -- so what do YOU think likely occurred? I think something VERY bad, because otherwise, owners do not usually file complaints.

This is why I tell readers of veterinary disciplinary files to ASSUME THE WORST when reading a board decision or document that does not spell out the impact of the vets actions on the pet, or the outcome for the pet. I believe these boards -- motivated by a desire to protect members of their own profession -- deliberately leave out information on WHAT the consequences of the vet's actions were, because they consider this information inflammatory. Well, it is VERY IMPORTANT that we pet owners understand that things like "gross incompetence" have very real consequences for very real patients (and their loving families), whether or not those consequences are spelled out. ASSUME THE WORST.

According to the Cassette, A Magazine for Collies, as quoted on the website of Minnesota/Wisconsin Collie rescue: "It is estimated that 30-50% of the collie breed have a deadly reaction when given the medication Ivermectin." Based on that statistic, if he gave this drug to two collies, I'm assuming one of them is dead now. (See

Indeed, it seems from the wording of the Board's charges that one or more of the collies did in fact have this reaction, because it says that Johannes "failed to recognize a . . . side effect."

If one of these collies did in fact have this reaction, what did he or she likely experience?

According to "salivation, dilated pupils, vomiting, tremors, and difficulty walking (ataxia). Severe signs of toxicosis included weakness, inability to stand (recumbency), nonresponsiveness, stupor, and coma." And, ultimately if not properly treated, death. has a page on ivermectin, including a little slide show (two pics, one of which shows a collie suffering from ivermectin toxicity; the second page says "Ivermectin should be avoided in collies.")

The board gave Johannes a 2 month active suspension (followed by a 22 month STAYED suspension during which he can work) and fined him only $500.

So, the question I have is: Was "Dr." Johannes so dumb that he didn't KNOW about the ivermectin toxicity in collies, OR was he so careless that he knew, but he still gave the drug to the collies and then failed to monitor and treat for side effects?

Either way, I wouldn't take my pets to this guy.


Monday, March 10, 2008

A Case of Diabetic Mismanagement? (Kentucky)

This post is about vets that I think are bad, even though the State Veterinary Board found nothing wrong with what they did. And, it is a good example of the kind of complaints that get dismissed. Moreover, this story strikes close to my heart -- as it is about a diabetic cat.

What is particularly disturbing to me is that it appears to me that this cat -- a diabetic -- was being mismanaged and not properly treated by her primary veterinarian (NOT the veterinarian who the owner filed a complaint against), and that this led to repeated crises (hypoglycemic emergencies for the cat.) Ultimately, the cat was taken to another hospital to be treated for hypoglycemic seizures. According to the allegations, instead of receiving a "bolus" (large infusion) of dextrose (water with sugar in it) to raise her blood sugar, was given only a glucose drip, in spite of a very low blood sugar and severe seizures. [Interestingly, when interviewed by the Board, another vet at this hospital claimed the cat WAS given a bolus, but this is not jiving with other statements or the records.] It seems evident to me that this cat's diabetic emergency was NOT dealt with aggressively enough, possibly therefore leading to much more severe brain damage than would otherwise have occurred. Yet, the Kentucky Board dismissed the case, saying there was "insufficient evidence to warrant disciplinary action." Although the owner filing the complaint was not mad at her primary veterinarian, it seems evident to me that the primary vet's mismanagement of this cat's diabetes in fact created the situation in which these repeated, devastating attacks of hypoglycemic occurred -- ultimately leading to the brain damage that caused the cat to be put to sleep. Here is the story:

The complaint filed by the owner said this:

"I took my cat to [Animal Hospital B because it was clsoe and I could not get to [Animal Hospital A] on Saturday, 10/1/05 at 1pm. She was having a severe reaction to insulin (she is diabetic). I told th evet that she was diabetic and needed to be stablized -- they took her in the back and they told me to call back before they closed at 3, which I did. I was told [vet name blacked out] would phone me later with an update. I got home around 5 and there was a message from the vet to call her, which I did. She said PeeWee was still having seizures (which is not normal at all when I take her to [Animal Hospital A] and that a vet tech would be in at 8 to check her blood and would call me with a status report. At 8:30 a vet tech called and said it was very bad ("critical.") She was still having seizures and her blood sugar was dangerously low."

[Note to reader: This cat has now been seizing with very low blood sugard for 7 and a half hours. This can cause severe brain damage, as it did in my cat who was allowed to keep seizing for hours.]

"I said that I have to come get her and take her to [Animal Hospital A]."

[Note to reader: Animal Hospital A is the place this person usually took her cat, for repeated prior such episodes, where they were apparently able to treat the cat with a bolus infusion of dextrose -- but more on that later.]

"When I got there she led me back to my cat and I said I need to take her NOW! The tech kept stalling saying [vet's name blacked out] will be mad and I need to pay. I don't know how long this went back and forth but to this point my cat had been having seizures for seven hours ad I was not happy. Her blood sugar level was 13."

[Note to reader: normal blood sugar for a cat is 60-150. Readings less than 30 are VERY DANGEROUS and can lead to seizures that cause permanent brain damage.]

"I finally got my VISA card out and gave it to her to keep and told her to give me my cat NOW!!! When I got her to [Animal Hospital A] her temperature was 93 degrees and they even asked me to consider putting her down." [Note to reader: Normal body temperature for a cat is about 102 degress. Severe hypothermia often accompanies severe hypoglycemia.]

"PeeWee would have died at [Animal Hospital B]. [Animal Hospital A] had her semi-conscious and semi-responsive in less than an hour when I got there."

So what is up with this story? Reading through the rest of the record, many things become clear:
PeeWee was in bad shape when she got to Animal Hospital B. The vet, in her response to the complaint, describes PeeWee on admission: ". . . in very bad shape, elderly, hypoglycemic, seizuring, hypothermic, meowing, drooling." Then the vet says that they started a glucose drip. They DO NOT say anything about a bolus of dextrose, which is called for in such severe cases.
[Another vet from this hospital later claimed a bolus was given, but this contradicts other statements and the records.]

This vet also notes that the owner reported to him that PeeWee had prior incidents like this since she had her dose of Lente insulin increased.

In the Board's interview with the owner who filed the complaint, the owner said that when she had taken PeeWee to her regular vet for hypoglycemic emergencies the vet "would give her a bolus of sugar IV and she would respond in an hour or so." [Note: A bolus is a larger amount delivered at once, rather than a slow drip.]

This raises a very important question: WHY was PeeWee in repeated crisis? What was wrong with PeeWee's primary treatment regimen -- prescribed by her vet -- that had her in a state where she was having repeated hypoglycemic emergencies?

In the course of the investigation, the veterinary board got a statement from the regular vet. One thing to remember is that the REGULAR vets are the people who had recently increased PeeWee's insulin dose.

The regular vet said that when PeeWee was rushed to them after the owner retrieved her from Animal Hospital B, her glucose was still less than 20 and she was in a coma. She said that PeeWee was "overhydrated" and had a bag of Lactated Ringers solution attached to her leg from Animal Hospital B. [Note: Lactated Ringers does not have ANY sugar in it -- which is what PeeWee needed]

[Another vet also attested that when PeeWee was brought into Animal Hospital A, "She had a catheter in place and a bag of fluids attached to it. The bag was labeled Lactated Ringers Solution, so I assume that is what was in the bag. There was no writing on the bag indicating glucose had been added, so I assume no glucose was in the fluids." [Note to reader: This statement raises questions about whether PeeWee got ANY needed glucose AT ALL at Hospital B!!!!] The vet adds: "There was approximately 300cc's of fluid left in the bag, so I assume 700 cc's had been given." This is a HUGE amount of fluids to give to a cat, and the vet notes that the cat was "overhydrated."

In her statements, regular vet ffom hospital A said: "We changed the fluids to Normal Ringers with 5% dextrose and gave her a bolus of 25% dextrose . . . at midnight [two hours after she was brought in] the glucose was still less than 20. We gave her another bolus of Dextrose and by 4:00am she was eating ravenously. Her glucose was still only 30."

The owner took PeeWee home the next day, only to have to return with her the following day, saying PeeWee had "collapsed." This time, PeeWee's blood sugard was 599. The vet did discharge PeeWee in the evening after giving her fluids and insulin "with the understanding to check the glucose four to six hours post insulin for two days."

This is what I find so disturbing. While it is good the vet talked to the owner about hometesting in this circumstance, blood sugar testing on a diabetic cat shoud be done at the time the shot is given -- not just many hours later -- and it shoudl be done EVERY day, not just after emergencies. Moreover, Lente insulin is a humulin insulin -- not one of the better insulin for cats.

The vet goes on to say:

"[PeeWee] returned on October 8th with a glucose of less than 20. We gave her a bolus of dextrose and put her on Normasol. By 4:00 pm the glucose was 30. The owner took the cat home at 8:30 that night . . . on the 16th she returned with the cat not eating and dry heaving. The glucose was 686. The owner okayed treatment for 24 to 48 hours to see if she improved. By 11:00pm there was no improvement and the owner elected to euthanize her."

Now, here is the good example of how vets stick together, protect each other, and blame their clients for everything:

"The owner had trouble leaving the cat with us long enough to stablize her initially. Who knows if the cat would have responded if she had received a bolus of glucose at Dr. [vet's name blacked out -- vet from Animal Hospital B]. She had brittle diabetes and age against her."

These statements outrage me as someone who has cared for three diabetic cats. It is clear to ME that this veterinarian, from "Animal Hospital A" -- the main veterinarian, was not adequately managing this cats diabetes in the first place, therefore the cat was in a state of chronic crisis. In spite of these repeated episodes of brain-damaging hypoglycemia and life-threatenig hypERglycemia, this vet does not make ONE mention of re-evaluating her patient's insulin protocol, diet, or home monitoring. She just blames the cats failure to do better on "brittle" diabetes and "age."

This is unconscionable in my opinion, and the statements of a delusional vet who is failing to take responsibility for her lousy protocol that is endangering, repeatedly, this patient's life. There are MANY things she could have done -- and did not do -- to help this owner help this cat.

1. Change to another type of insulin. In recent years it has become evident that Humulin insulins -- like "Lente" -- the insulin this cat was on -- are rarely the best choices in cats. Many other insulins are available, specifically both PZI insulin and Glargine (also known as lantus) are longer acting than lente and less harsh in the cat, resulting in a flatter curve and providing better regulation. In spite of the repeated trouble this patient of hers was having, it seems at NO time did this veterinarian question her own protocol -- including the insulin. To my mind, this is outrageously irresponsible.

2. Counsel the owner to implement dietary changes that improve diabetic control. It does not say in these records what food the cat was eating, but it is also well known that diabetic cats should be on a diet of low-carb canned food. This helps avoid the highs and lows that PeeWee experienced. I highly doubt this (in my opinion LAZY) vet was doing that.

3. Counsel the owner to TEST THE CATS BLOOD SUGAR before EVERY shot, ALL the time -- not just spot checks in the 2 days after a crisis. This cat clearly needed closer monitoring and management at home -- the owner would have no way of knowing this. The veterinarian should have counseled the owner to test PeeWee's blood sugar before every shot, and also whenever possible mid-cycle, every day. This poor cat could have been receiving shots of insulin when her blood sugar was already too low to need it. No doctor would advise a human client to inject insulin into himself without testing his blood sugar first -- to do that is highly dangerous. But owners don't know that unless vets tell them.

It seems evident to me that this cat's diabetes was being chronically mismanaged by her original vet, and then she received inadequate treatment in a hypoglycemic crisis which allowed brain damage to occur.

Do you want to know how to save your cat from such tragedy if he or she should become diabetic?

The best thing you can do is to join an online community dedicated to caring for diabetic pets. There are two out there that I would recommend:

The members of these lists -- conscientious owners of diabetic pets themselves -- will counsel you on how to hometest you cats blood sugar, and have a wealth of information on insulins and diet. Much of this information is taken DIRECTLY from the most current, cutting edge thinking in diabetic care, which unfortunately, many vets are not up on.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

When Vets Leave Objects in Your Pet During Surgery

In Maryand, veterinarian Benjamin Harman, a veterinarian at Hillside Animal Hospital in Eckart Maryland, left gauze in his patient's abdomen after performing surgery.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Washington Vet Loses Bambee, the Italian Greyhound: She is Later Found Dead in a Field

Like many families, to the Lind's, their dog Bambee was more than a pet -- she was a member of the family. The Lind's purchased Bambee, an Italian Greyhound, from a breeder in Salem Oregon in 2005. As told by well-known animal lawyer Adam Karp: "They . . . instantly fell in love with her. Although Mr. Lind cared for dogs throughout his life, he never had a dog that responded to him like Bambee. . . . [Bambee] slept on their pillow in bed almost every night."

The Linds, who ran concessions, travelled regionally for work. They took Bambee with them, getting rooms at pet-friendly motels so that Bambee could be with them. They arranged their schedules so that one of them would be at the hotel with Bambee while the other was working.

One night, however, both the Linds needed to attend an important work-related event. So, for one night, they arranged to board Bambee at Airport West Animal Clinic in Yakima, Washington, where she had previously been seen. Although they had other options (a friend willing to watch Bambee) they thought that Bambee would be safer in the hands of professionals. s

Ten-pound Bambee was very nervous and skittish. According to Karp:

"Former employee Heidi Billings notes that Bambee was 'extremely skittish' at the time she removed her from the cage, and that though she asked co-worker Katie Bombard whether she should leash walk Bambee in the outside enclosure, Ms. Bombard responded in the negative, saying it was 'no big deal.' Ms. Billings was unable to capture Bambee who, predictably, avoided her when approached and escaped through a 3-inch opening in the space of a few seconds."

This occured in spite of the fact that:

  • A few weeks earlier a client had warned the clinic that this opening posed a risk for the escape of her small dog -- a chihuahua -- and instructed the staff to walk her pet on a leash at all times.
  • It was reportedly the practice at the clinic to use a leash with animals who were skittish and small, but this was not done on that day with Bambee
The Linds began a frantic search for Bambee that lasted nearly a week. In the local newspaper, Mr. Lind was quoted as saying "I'm desperate. I love this dog." The Linds even hired International K-9 Search and Rescue Services.

Sadly, "Bambee was found frozen and half-eaten in a field near the clinic. Describing what Mr. Lind saw when he was called to the scene where Bambee had been found, Karp says: "Bambee lay deceased in the field with her insides eaten out. She was still wearing the sweater the Linds had given her. She had no collar, harness, or leash on. "

Reportedly, when Lind went with Bambee's body to Airport West Animal Clinic, to show them what had become of her: "Dr. Erika Kieser allegedly coldly refused to come out, remarking that she had seen dead dogs before."

The Lind's expert witness in their lawsuit against Airport West said that the clinic had violated the standard of care for a boarding facility in several respects. One of these respects was the failure to create proper perimeter fencing for small breeds, such as the Italian Greyhound. She testified that a run or enclosure appropriate for small dogs would have no opening larger than 1 inch. The 3-inch opening in the fence was clearly large enough for a small dog to get through.

Ultimately, the Linds were awarded $6,722.50 plus costs of $650. $5,000 of the award was for the "intrinsic value" of Bambee.

But of course, no amount of money will make the loss of Bambee OK.

Rest in peace, Bambee.

As for Airport West Animal Clinic, the question their current and future clients should ask themselves is: If they were this careless once, is that a way of doing business there? How do you know they aren't equally careless in dozens of other ways?

Beware. And Be Aware.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Poor, Poor Georgia Piggy, R.I.P.

This is the story of how a "euthanasia" that was to be performed by Georgia veterinarian Ronald Martin ended in the horrific drowning of a conscious, squealing, struggling pet pig named "Ren."

The Georgia Vet Board's document says:

"On or about December 2, 2004, [Martin] was asked to euthanize "Ren", a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied pig that had been kept as a pet for twelve years but had stopped eating or leaving the house and appeared to be in pain. Respondent went to the owner's home to perform the procedure."

"According to his records, [Martin] injected 10.6 ml of Ketaset subcutaneously. The pig was dissociated, but not generally anesthetized. [Martin] then attempted to inject a euthanasia solution intravenously in five or more sites for a total of 136 ml. When [Martin] ran out of the solution, however, the pig was still alive."

[Martin] "then told the owner he could drown the pig in a bucket of water. [Martin], the owner and a neighbor held the pig down in the water while the pig struggled, squealed and kicked. The pig drowned a few minutes later."

The Board reviewer found that Martin's actions constituted cruelty to Ren, saying:

"Subcutaneous injection of a ketamine solution, as indicated in [Martin's] records, is an incorrect route of administration."

"[Martin's] attempts to inject the euthanasia solution intra-venously failed to meet minimum standards for performing vena-puncture."

[The documents do not provide any details on how those "attempts" may have been botched, why he had to try so many times, or why he messed up performing the "vena-puncture."]

"Drowning is not an acceptable method of euthanizing an animal, and further it is cruel and inhumane. It is beneath the standard of care for a veterinarian to initiate or assist such an act, or to observe it without objection."

The Board fined Martin $1,000, ordered him to take only 5 hours of continuing education in large animal procedure, and gave him a public reprimand. No suspension.

It makes me so very sad to think what poor Ren suffered in his final moments. R.I.P., poor Ren.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dog Dies 5 Hours After Spay

Texas Vet Joe Bennett performed a spay procedure on Ramsy, a Rottweiler. Later that day, Ramsy died less than 5 hours after being picked up by her family. Dr. Bennett had never offered, or performed, pre-surgical bloodwork on Ramsy. During the investigatin, Dr. Bennett stated that during surgery, he noticed that Ramsy had an enlarged spleen, anemia, and had petechia in her abdomen. In the record he had written, "possible ehrlichia." Yet he never informed Ramsy's family of Ramsy's condition, did no bloodwork, and did not discuss the option of seeking care at an emergency clinic with Ramsy's family. As stated above, Ramsy died within 5 hours of being released.

The Texas Vet Board found him in violation of the Professional Standard of Humane Treatment and regulations related to Patient Record-Keeping.

Links to disciplinary file/information:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cat Stabbed in the Heart with Euth Needle by Knife River Vet Edward Foeltz

Did infamous Tennesee veterinarian William Baber have an evil twin practising in North Dakota? An evil twin who has now moved to ply his trade in Minnesota? Interesting how these bad vets get disciplined in one state and then move to another, isn't it -- just like yesterday's bad vet.

Readers should remember the story of Tennessee vet William Baber, who is facing 12 criminal counts including four counts of cruelty to animals, based on his illegal use of "intracardiac injections" as a method of euthanizing -- no, we must say, killing -- shelter animals. These animals were NOT unconscious -- they had been given no drugs for sedation or pain -- prior to Baber shoving the needle into their heart. Reportedly, many dogs struggled and howled and cried as this was done to them.

In the following Veterinary Practice News Article, one vet said: "A decent veterinarian wouldn’t want to perform intracardiac euthanasias unless the animal was in a comatose or anesthetized state."

So it came as a surprise to me to read about Edward Foeltz in North Dakota -- and the harrowing story of how he used "intracardiac injection" -- also called a "heart punch" -- to kill a client's cat. Moreover, it is entirely shocking to me that the outcome of this Board complaint was merely one year of probation, and the order to provie the Board with a "written protocol for in-room euthanasia with the owner present . . . " as though the ONLY thing wrong with how he euthanized the cat was the fact that the owner was present.

In North Dakota, when disciplinary action is taken, both the complaint and the vets response become public record. Below, I excerpt from the owner's complaint, and from the vet's response.

[Cautionary note: The owners complaint should be understood to consist of allegations, which are at the time of the compaint unproven. The vet's response likewise is a defensive claim filled with information that may not be proven or provable. There are, however, many facts in this case about which both the owner and the vet, Foeltz', agree. I will point these out.]

In her complaint, the owner recounted the day that she took her beloved 16 year-old Tuxedo cat, Toby, to Dr. Foeltz at Knife River Veterinary Clinic in Beulah, North Dakota, to be euthanized.

In her complaint she said:

"Dr. Foeltz and his assistant proceed to hold Toby down . . . [I] noticed that Dr. Foeltz was feeling around for his heart. I put my face on Toby's cheek and closed my eyes that's when Dr. Foeltz must have inserted the needle because Toby meowed in pain . . . After several minutes Toby meowed again so I looked up and to my horror I saw the syringe was still in his chest moving freely about! Dr. Foeltz was still feeling around for Toby's heart. I said "I didn't know it was done this way, I thought you went in his leg." Dr. Foetz said, 'Veins are so hard to find and they move around. ' So I just closed my eyes again and kept rubbing and talking to Toby. Toby meowed again when Dr. Foelt was still feeling around for his hear. It was when Toby meowed for hte third time that I no loger could stand hearing him cry out in pain and not be able to do anything about it, so I told them I had to leave. I knew that if I stayed I'd end up stopping the procedure and that would be a mistake to let Toby suffer even more."

"The lobby offered me no comfort as I heart Toby meow two more times. Each meow sounded worse. It was one of the saddest days of my life.

"Dr. Foeltz's assistant finally came out and told me I could come back in. Toby was lying on the table with his eyes clsoed, breathing very heavy. I asked if I could hold him, she said "Yes" and left me with him." Yet, she said, at no time did he use a stethoscope to verify that his heart had stopped.

The owner then recounts that Foeltz came back in and reassured her that Toby was dead. So she took Toby out to the car, and drove home to get her checkbook to pay the vet, as they had told her they didn't take credit cards.

When she arrived home, she said, her husband looked into the truck and Toby, and saw that he was still breathing. So she had to take him back to the clinic -- and ore than a half hour after the original horrifying procedure, another vet -- named Woodruff -- told her that Toby was "in a deep, deep, sleep." This vet administered additional doses to Toby (she does not say how they were administered).

The owner claims that although Woodruff apologized to her for what had happened she also "chuckled."

The owner said that she subsequently consulted with other veterinarians who told her that using a heart shot should ONLY be a last resort, and that it should be done only after sedative is given. This is consitent, by the way, with remarks made about the Baber case.

The vet's response to this complaint was written in one long page and a half with no paragraph breaks. In his response, Foeltz claimed that Toby was "unresponsive" when he went to euthanize him. He said: "Toby was the fourth cat I had to euthanise in the three months of practice I had at the time." [WHAT????? THEY ARE STILL TEACHING THIS BARBARIC TECHNIQE IN VET SCHOOL???]

Explaining why he gave Toby an injection into his heart, he said: "Toby was very unresponsive so I felt the quickest, least painful, and most companionate way to euthanize him was to put 1 cc of euthanasia solution directly into his heart. This was because of his physicial state I didn't feel that using a leg vein would be possible, but that is the way I prefer to euthanise animals."

He said, affirming some of the complainants account: "I did insert the needle and he did meow, but he didn't move and he was only being restrained minimally."

Gee whiz dude, when you are so sick you can't move, what if the nursing home staff restrain you "minimally" when they stick a needle in your heart while you are fully conscious and sort of ignore your cries. How would that be for you?

Foeltz does not address the client's claims that he repeatedly searched around for the heart with this needle. He says:

"I drew back on the syringe and got a flash of blood back into the syringe and then injected the euthanasia solutioin. He did meow again when the solution went into the heart, but at no point during the procedure did he move."


Foeltz claims that he returned to the room and used a stethoscope to listen for a heartbeat. This version of events is contradicted by the client. He claims he didn't hear a heart beat.

He acknowledges that Toby was taken from the practice and then later returned still alive, in a "deep sleep" at which time "2 more cc's of solution was administered to Toby, through two 1 cc injections to finally make his heart stop."

Foeltz continued to stand by heart shots as an acceptable method of euthanasia for "highly unresponsive cats." Several things are disturbing about this statement. First of all, when a being is VERY ill, they can be unresponsive but still feel pain. The inability to move does not correlate with the inability to feel pain. Second, MEOWING IS A RESPONSE. A cat that meows with pain is not unresponsive. Third, he says "cats." What -- does he have some particular loathing for cats that he reserves this special method of killing only for them? What a peach of a guy he is!

More insight into this man's psyche is evident in his comments about the client. Describing a conversation he had with her in which says he apologized to her "for her loss and for what she experienced" [get that? Not apologizing for what he DID. Apologizing for her LOSS], he said that "She was les then [sic] receptive to the apology and just wanted to vent her anger."

Foeltz also said: "I also have been at the clinic long enough that I can chose [sic] if I want an owner present during the euthanasia. In this case I wouldn't have allowed Miss [x] to be in the room during the procedure due to her state of mind."

BLAMING THE VICTIM!!!! OVER AND OVER that's what this narcissistic freaks do -- no responsibility for their behavior. The problem is NOT how he killed her cat, but rather her "state of mind" and the fact that he ALLOWED her to be present during her beloved 16-year old pets euthanasia.

He goes on to say: "I admit that in this case I made a bad assumption that 1 cc of euthanasia solution would be enough to euthanise Toby, but I should have made Miss [x] put him on the exam table so I could listen to his heart better, no matter how much [she] refused." Keep in mind dear reader, that the client's account of what happened DOES NOT include her refusal to put Toby on an exam table. He adds: "Since Toby I have unfortunately had to euthanise many of peoples beloved pets and haven't had the problems I had with Miss [X] [the owner of Toby]".

Get a load of this freak! He had problems with Miss [x], the owner of Toby -- she's a problem client, rather than him being incompetent and cruel! What a psycho!

Foeltz does say that he will in the future use xylazine as a sedative before giving heart shots in the future "if I feel the best way to euthanize a cat is by injection into their heart." As though it's HIS choice. He also speaks of CHOOSING himself whether or not to ALLOW owers to be with their pets. I guess he figures there will be no one to witness his cruelty. And why are cats repeatedly singled out for this treatment?

In her letter to the Board, the owner said: "I still find myself crying, not just because Toby is gone, but at the HORRER of his last hour of life. He was SUCH a WONDERFUL companion ad friend. I can't stress enough how much love, laughter, & companionship he brought to my familly and me . . . There is not enough paper in the world or words in any language that could ever express how much he is loved and the terrible sadness that still lingers in our hearts."

She closed her letter with a plea to the veterinary board:

" . . . going directly into the heart without sedation is EXTREMELY CRUEL! PLEASE!!!!! DO NOT let another animal be subjected to the torture our Toby endured."

Well, dear lady, sadly, nothing the vet board did in this case will prevent this from happening again. With their emphasis on Foeltz having to come up with "a written protocol for in-room euthanasia with the owner present that meets the minimum standards of practice," they imply that the only thing wrong with what he did to Toby is that he let you witness it. And, they also imply that minimum standards of practice apply only when there is someone there to witness the veterinarian's actions.

Foeltz has said he will continue his heart punch method when he sees fit, and it seems to be specially reserved for kitties. Although he now says he will sedate them first -- with xylazine.

About that xylazine, is it another sadistic plan?

According to this: cats and dogs may vomit soon after the administration of xylazine. The vets I know now use telazol which does not do this. Moreover the following article says that the use of xylazine alone as a pre-euthanasia sedative leaves the animals "seemingly conscious and aware of pain."

One poster in response to this article added: "I work in an animal shelter and xylazine does NOT offer a humane way of putting animals to sleep. Many cats go into seizures . . . "

So, Foeltz plan for preventing horror scenes like the one that occurred with Toby is that prior to injecting them in the heart, he's going to give them a shot that makes them puke, gives them seizures, and leaves them conscious and aware of pain?

Is he a freakin SADIST?

This article -- sadly from my state of Maryland, describes the horrific scenes that are ensuing now at Maryland shelters as xylazine is being used in place of ketamine. "The xlayzine leaves animals woozy and desensitized, but "clearly you can tell the animal still knows what's going on . . . we don't know if we can prevent convulsions in the animal "

As for the overall practice of intracardiac injections, the Humane Society of the United States has said in its guidelines on shelter medicine:

"Intracardiac (IC) injections (into one of the four chambers of the heart) are acceptable only for animals who have been verified as unconscious. An injection into a conscious animal’s chest is stressful and extremely painful and therefore considered to be cruel."

Also, NIH guidelines for euthanasia of lab animals also state that intra-cardiac injections are "acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized, or comatose animals."

Which, Toby clearly was not.

The Vermont Department of Agriculture states that: "At no time shall intracardiac injections be used on conscious animals."

Similar explicit restrictions are in place at universities nationwide.

Furthermore, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) euthanasia guidelines state:

"Intracardiac injection is acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized, or comatose animals. It is not considered acceptable in awake animals, owing to the difficulty and unpredictability of performing the injection accurately."

In the State of North Dakota, Veterinarians are "immune from liability" under animal cruelty laws. So even though Foeltz' actions were -- by definitions of many accepted guidelines -- inhumane, and at first blush, it may seem that Toby's humans would have a good basis for animal cruelty charges -- in the State of North Dakota, like about half of the states in the U.S. -- veterinarians are "immune to prosecution" under animal cruelty statutes.

ALERT: As of July 2007, Foeltz had been issued a "conditional license" to practice in Minnesota. Minnesota Pet Parents, BEWARE!