Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dr. James Hunt Jr, DVM, New York: Exposed in PETA Horseracing Probe

The video is, like most PETA videos, painful to watch. Perhaps the most heartbreaking is the abusive, cruel, derisive and exploitative language used by the trainers exposed in this problem against the horses they exploit for a living. "Cocksucker." "Motherfucker." "Rat." Derision and hatred and vitriol against the innocent animals they exploit for wealth -- a betrayal.

But another shocking betrayal is encapsulated in evidence of ongoing and routine Lasix administration by James Hunt, DVM, regardless of medical need or potential harm. While lasix is legal in the United States, it is banned in Europe.

The video says: "Lasix . . . was injected into all of Asmussen's horses who were being raced or timed. PETA's investigator recorded New York's top racehorsing veterinarian admit that the primary reason why Lasix is given to most of the horses is for performance enhancement." Hunt -- on camera -- tells the investigator that all of th horses "run on" Lasix because " . . . It makes 'em lighter." When asked if there aren't some horses who don't need it, Hunt says: "Probably, but it's a performance enhancer."

Although the New York Times stated that Hunt could not be contacted to comment on their story, Hunt's previous comments on this matter leave little doubt how he sees his job as a racetrack vet -- and it doesn't involve the interests of the horses. In fact, it doesn't even involve the interests of the horse owners. Previously the New York Times ran a series, Breakdown at America's Racetracks, including the article "Racing Economics Collide with Veterinarians' Oath." In this article Hunt was reported as arguing that trainers should not have to reveal the medication regimens applied to their horses, stating that veterinarians will honor the trainers' request not to reveal this information because ". . . the trainers are their real clients, not the owners . . . The board must also understand that trainers make nearly 100 percent of all veterinarian decisions regarding the medication of their horses.”

Trainers. You know, those guys who were recorded on video calling "their" horses "cocksuckers," "motherfuckers" and "rats." Those guys are the ones this veterinarian lets call the shots.

The veterinary oath includes the promise to protect "animal health and welfare" and to prevent and relieve animal suffering. Veterinarians also swear that "I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics."

You watch the video yourself. And you see if you think that Dr. James Hunt's behavior is consistent with that oath. As you do so, remember that this is not the first time Hunt has been embroiled in scandals and controversies regarding horseracing industry's treatment of its horses.

There was an interesting comment on this story over at a site called the Paulick Report: "If veterinarians were regulated, you would see an end to many of our problems. . . Vets have no skin in the game when it comes to responsibility. It needs to change." I emphasize -- IF vets were regulated. IF. And it's true that they are NOT regulated.

Watch PETA's Undercover Video Investigation

New York Times Article on PETA investigation

Prior NYT Series Quoting Hunt

Monday, March 3, 2014

Breaking the Rules: Veterinarian Peter Rule's Plentiful Violatons of Veterinary Standards Bring Probation, but No Suspension, from Washington State

The Washington State Veterinary Board's Statement of Charges is chilling, detailing physical abuse of patients, drug diversion, not merely allowing but directing the practice of surgeries by an unlicensed assistant, surgical errors, and more.  These "alleged facts" (quoting the Agreed Order) include a description of how a patient died from blood loss after Rule "nicked" her spleen during a spay; another patient burned; yet another given way way way way too much fluid; another with a "nicked" urethra.  The owner of the dog whose ureter was "nicked" gave a heart-wrenching account of her experience in press reports. 

Here are the Findings of Fact from the agreed order from the Washington Veterinary Board on Peter Rule, DVM: 

"From on or about February of 2007 through July of 2008, at least five (5) members of Respondent's staff observed him diverting tramadol for his own use."  Rule admitted to this on camera in local press coverage of the case, a link to which is provided below. 

"From on or about April 2005 through on or about March 2008, at least three (3) employees observed respondent using unnecessary force, excessive physical restraint, and/or threatening conduct with patients."  This is further described in the Veterinary Board's statement of charges as follows:  

[Rule] was observed  "physically and psychologically abusing patients.  Specifically, [Rule]:

A.  Taunted patients by "getting in their faces" or growling at them;
B.  Slapped or punched their faces; 
C. Pulled their tails; and
D. Tightened his hand around the animal's neck until it lost consciousness."

From on or about April 2005 through on or about March 2008, and in August 2010, [Peter Rule, DVM] aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine. Specifically [Peter Rule, DVM]:

A.  Allowed at least one (1) unlicensed assistant to perform the duties of a licensed veterinarian on at least five (5) occasions; 
B.  Verbally pressured an unlicensed assistant to perform spay and neuter surgery."

{Comment:  Spay surgery is major abdominal surgery.  One is left to wonder what the outcome of this surgery was -- an unlicensed assistant is not even a licensed veterinary technician, it would be like having an orderly do a hysterectomy.  How do you think that turned out? }

From on or about April 2005 through on or about February 2008, at least one (1) employee observed that [Rule] left the clinic on one or more occasions while patients were under sedation and recovering from surgery, even though no veterinarian or veterinary technician was on the premises." 

"From on or about April 2008 through on or about October 2008 [Peter Rule] provided veterinary services that did not meet the standard of care for the State of Washington.  Specifically: 

A.  On or about April 11, 2008, [Peter Rule, DVM] performed an ovario-hysterectomy on client A's dog Daisy. During the surgery [Peter Rule, DVM] nicked the dog's spleen and could not control the consequent bleeding; the patient bled to death."

B.  On or about May 16, 2008, [Peter Rule, DVM] performed an OVH on Client B's dog Sophie.  The dog was placed on a heating device by an employee of respondent's clinic, which burned the patient's skin." 

C.  "On or about October 28, 2008, [Peter Rule, DVM] performed a spay on Client C's cat Bella.  The treatment involved hydration.  An employee of Respondent's clinic over-hydrated the patient by administering fluids at the rate of 700 ml per hour."  Now, how bad is that?  Well, let's see.  According to AAHA itself, the appropriate fluid rate for a cat is 2-3 ml per kg per hour.  (See Fluid Therapy Guidelines, page 9).  A cat of 10 pounds is about 4.5 kg.  That equates to a fluid rate of 13.5 ml/hr.  That means the cat received fluids at a rate over 50 times that which it should have been!   The board document does not specify what happened to the cat in question, but without a doubt, this can cause life threatening complications such as pleural effusion.

D. On or about August 9, 2010, while performing neuter surgery on Client D and E's dog Trooper, Respondent [Peter Rule, DVM] nicked the patient's urethra."

Trooper's owner was interviewed on a local TV station about what happened to Trooper, saying she could hear her dog " . . .  yelling and writhing, just being really in great pain."

My experience with the Washington State Veterinary Board is that they are, like many Vet Boards, seemingly very reluctant to publicize or even release upon request disciplinary records.  Why would Rule be different?  Could it have anything to do with what Rule said when confronted with the Board's Statement of Charges?  

Rule said, on camera: "How dare they."  

Perhaps that's one of the only times a vet board actually does something about a vet who's practice is substandard -- when the vet himself thumbs his nose at the board. 

Industry Article on Rule Disciplinary Action

 "Vet to Keep His License After Animal Abuse, Stealing Pain Meds"

"The Veterinarian Who Seemed to Hate Animals"