Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dog Dies After Sustaining Head Trauma at the Vets (Sonya McClendon, DVM, Marshall Texas)

This is one of those stories where a pet owner with a brain will read "between the lines." Keep in mind, that the veterinary board who acted in this matter pretty much recounted the VET'S VERSION OF EVENTS as though it were the truth. In the VET'S VERSION OF EVENTS the dog, a rat terrier named Star, "fell off the table and hit her head on the floor." She hit her head so hard that the damage sustained was so bad that she had to be euthanized. The vet claims the dog "fell off the table," even though she told the owner that (having been bitten by the dog), if the dog were hers she would have "beat the hell out of her."

So what do you think REALLY happened?

Here is the vet board's account:

In April, 2008, Star's owner brought Star in for coughing. "Dr. McClendon examined 'Star' and diagnosed 'Star' with bronchitis and tracheatis, possibly due to a bordatella infection. After the examination, Samantha Maxwell, a veterinary technician at respondent's clinic, attempted to administer Metacam orally with a syringe. 'Star' bit Ms. Maxwell on her hand, but she was successful on her second attempt. 'Star' was placed on a table in the kennel, where Ms. Maxwell attempted to medicate 'Star' with a Primor pill antibiotic. Ms. Maxwell was unable to administer the medication as 'Star' continued to snap at her. Dr. McClendon also tried to administer the medication, but was bitten in the process. Dr. McClendon subsequently used a pill pusher to successfully administer the medication. In the process, Star bit Dr. McClendon twice more. However, when Dr. McClendon pulled her hand back, 'Star' bit her on the thumb and would not release. Dr. McClendon slapped 'Star' on the muzzle several times in an attempt to get 'Star' to release her thumb. In the confusion, 'Star' fell off the table and hit her head on the floor."

"IN THE CONFUSION?????? IN THE CONFUSION?????" What the hell does that disingenuous phrase mean?

I'm guessing it means: "Oh, gee, somehow, we dont remember, the dog who was attached to my thumb -- who I was busy slapping -- ended up slamming to the floor and hitting his head really hard. Duh. Not sure how."

What do you think?

The document goes on:

"'Star' was then given a flea bath and placed in the kennel to dry. While drying in the kennel, 'Star's' nose began to bleed. [Star's owner] was in the clinic's waiting room while the medication was administered. While she was paying her bill, Dr. McClendon stated that Star had bitten her, and if it was her dog, she would have 'beat the hell out of her.' Dr. McClendon also said she did not want to see 'Star' at her clinic anymore, and [the owner] apologized. 'Star' was picked up by [the owner's] husband, at approximately 4:30 p.m. that day and presented with blood on her nose. A staff member of the clinic informed [the husband] that 'Star' had fallen off an examination table."

Keep in mind, at this point, these vets had Star for some time.

"Star's nose continued to bleed after returning home. At approximately 8:00pm that evening, [the owner] noticed that 'Star' had become letharghic. On the morning of April 3rd Star was still lethargic and her nose was still bleeding. She could not walk and was having difficulty breathing. At approximately 7:30 am [the owner] presented star to Jason Anderson, D.V.M., Marshall Animal Hospital, where a blood profile was conducted and radiographs taken. Dr. Anderson diagnosed 'Star' with severe head trauma. 'Star' suffered seizures while being examined, which left her 'non-responsive and in an apparent vegetative state,' and 'eventually went into cardio-respiratory arrest.' Once Dr. Anderson informed [the owner] of Star's status, she elected to euthanize Star."

Did you get the part about "SEVERE HEAD TRAUMA?"

The board stated:

"Dr. McClendon's failure to property restrain and administer medication to Star does not represent 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 Marshall, Texas or similar communities. Specifically (1) Dr. McClendon's failure to property restrain Star during the administration of medication, (2) her failure to allow Star's owner -- who was present in the clinic waiting room -- to administer the medication to Star, rather than to administer it herself and (3) her failure to recognize that Star's continuing nosebleed subsequent to her fall . . . " [editorial comment: Yeh, fall. Right. Some "fall."] ". . . was a sign of head trauma and treat accordingly, led to complications which ultimately contributed to the untimely death of Star."


Hmmm. About that comment Sonya McClendon made. That comment that if Star were her dog, she would "beat the hell out of her." Maybe it wasn't a hypothetical????

And you gotta wonder -- does Dr. McClendon HAVE ANY DOGS? ANY PETS AT ALL? If she does, shouldn't someone go remove them from her custody, given her assertion that she finds justification to "beat the hell out of" her dogs, as well as given the fate of Star?

Poor Star.

Star, if there is a heaven, or any kind of justice in the afterlife, you will 150 pounds and giant, and Dr. McClendon will be 15 pounds and tiny. And she will be delivered to you on a silver platter, for you to so with as you wish.

Alas, in this life, you were a victim.

A veterinary victim.

How did the veterinary board deal with McClendon?

They gave her a big scary FORMAL REPRIMAND.

They fined her $500.

They ordered her to take a class in animal behavior. (Um, how about anger management?)

They ordered restitution of a measely $111.82. Which McClendon had apparently had the gall to charge Star's owners.

Do you think this is enough for the life of your dog?

Moreover, this was not the first time McClendon had been disciplined by the board, nor the first time her actions had been implicated in the death of a patient. See below.

All of that -- and does the board take her license? No. Do they give her so much as 1 day active suspension? No.

Way to go coddling those repeat offenders, Texas. How many dogs will she have to kill before you take some real action?

Thank you to Texas Citizen Greg Munson of the Texas Vet Board Watch and Texas Veterinary Records site for calling my attention to this case.

To view the disciplinary record on which this entry is based, go here

UPDATE: Bad Vet Daily has just found out that Sonya McClendon, the vet in this case, allegedly supports the breeding of cats with deformities, providing veterinary services to a breeder called "Karma Cats". See Many people believe this to be a cruel and perverse operation. For more debate, see

Also, this is not the first death in the hands of McClendon in a case disciplined by the vet board. In a 2004 case, it was found that McClendon "failed to administer fluids to a dehydrated patient" and to that patient, simultaneously administered two contraindicated drugs -- rimadyl and banamine. The dog in question died two hours later. The board described that in that case, she was "annoyed" that she had to see the dog -- who came in on an emergency basis, and who was not her regular patient. In that case, the board "formally reprimanded" her.

Here is the case: