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.