Friday, February 8, 2008

New York Vet, Convicted of Perpetrating Animal Cruelty on the Granddaughter of Seattle Slew (But He Can Still Practice . . . )

The story of this New York vet is worth some attention not only because it shows that State Veterinary Board's allow vets convicted of animal cruelty to continue practising, but also because it provides good insight into what I believe to be a dangerous veterinary personality type. A profiler would certainly find this guy interesting -- his statement in his own defense to the veterinary board is a rambling and disjointed, off topic and self-glorifying rant, which doesn't address in one iota the issues that were being investigated. It paints a picture of someone who lives in his own world, without accountability, divorced from the reality of his actions.

On June 1, 2006, veterinarian Dr. Ronald J. Peters was convicted of Animal Cruelty in Washington County Court in the State of New York. The case involved two horses -- one a mare who is the Granddaughter of Seattle Slew, and her foal. The veterinary board document provides just a few details of the case that gave rise to this charge and conviction, as follows:

"The facts surrounding said crime at that at the Hudson Falls auction in April 2005, respondent purchased a pregnant mare horse, which was in poor condition at the time of purchase."

(This statement in the vet board document contradicts the claims of the horse's former owner. It seems the vet boards routinely take the vets word for everything when a non-veterinarian has a different story -- even this guy.)

The Board document continues:

"He then unjusifiably failed to provide the horse with necessary sustenance resulting in a deterioration of the mare and thereafter the foal's condition." In the statement of charges, the board specifically says that Peters "failed to provide a mare and foal with necessary sustenance, food or drink."

(Like most Board documents, this one doesn't say what happened to the horses. But with a little googling, I learned that the two horses were doing OK -- no thanks to the vet of course. They were bought by an Argyle horse rescue group, Double L Stable Equine Rescue. They were named Delta Dawn (the mom) and Willie (the foal). You can see pics of them here:

In 2005 the courts sentenced Peters to 3 year's probation in the horse cruelty case. If this probation began at the time of sentencing (which was July 11, 2006) it would continue until July 11, 2009.

In their own investigation of this cse, the veterinary board recommended a penalty of 24 months suspension -- but also recommended that all but 9 months of that suspension should be "stayed." In other words, after 9 months he can practice again. They also fined him $1,000.

This means the guy can practice again around July 2008 -- while still on probation for animal cruelty.

In fact this was not Peters first conviction: According to the North Country Gazette:

"In 1999, Peters was convicted of several misdemeanors for falsely billing the town of Greenwich for disposing of stray dogs. Instead of proper disposal, Peters dumped them on the side of a road."

Subsequent to that, the state office of professional discipline put him on probation for 2 years.

A repeat offender, multiple times on probation, Yet the Board still hasn't seen fit to yank his license. Instead, they fine him $1,000 and stay all but 9 months of his suspension.

Some insight into this guys mind is provided in his statements to the Board. Peters was allowed to write the Board and make recommendations about the penalty to be imposed if he should be found guilty. The written response he submitted upon being given this opportunity is truly astounding. He wrote:

"We live in a world torn by war, ripped by scandal and oppressed by high taxes and sky rocketing energy cost."

Um, what does that have to do with your conviction on animal cruelty????

[He goes on in this vein for a bit . . . blah blah blah]

"I work very diligently to practice medicine & surgery, to the best of my ability to not let me continue to practice would make me a poorer not a better veterinarian in the long run."

Commentary: Yes, of course, it's all about YOU.

He then launches into a dissertation on education -- perhaps because the Veterinary Board operates for some odd reason under the State Education Department in New York -- saying:

". . . in the future I would direct my efforts more toward those with the talent and commitment to help promote education. (By education I mean those looking for honest accurate answers based on Humans, animals & facts to our problems.) I think we have a great state & a great nation but knowledge, honesty, commitment & kindness are not always in control. I'm not saying you can always be kind but you should always try to be. We live in an imperfect world. I feel we should use our knowledge, commitment & concern to make it better deceit & maliciousness make it worse."

I will just let that speak for itself.

But back to the real concern: those who can't speak for themselves. Because sadly, another horse belonging to Peters has since met a very bad fate. The Times Union reported the following on September 15, 2007:

"A car carrying an Argyle couple collided with the horse at 10 p.m. Thursday. Washington County sheriff's deputies said the horse escaped from the farm where veterinarian Ron Peters lives. Peters has not been charged in the car accident, but District Attorney Kevin Kortright said the vet could be held liable in civil court.

The horse was killed and the passenger of the car, Sherry Smith of Miller Road, was unconscious at the scene and flown to Albany Medical Center Hospital. . . . "

The article also provided this synopsis of Peters past:

"Peters was found guilty in 1999 of forgery and larceny and in 2005 of cruelty to animals. In the first case, Peters dumped the body of at least one dog on the side of the road instead of cremating it as he had been paid $25 to do after he removed the head and sent it to a state lab for rabies testing. Two years ago, a jury found Peters guilty of allowing a granddaughter of Seattle Slew to suffer in his care."

The question yet again is: WHAT in the world does a vet have to do in order to have his license taken away by a veterinary board?