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Blood Transfusions and Severed Tails: 4 Horrifying Stories From the Vet’s Office

Blood Transfusions and Severed Tails: 4 Horrifying Stories From the Vet’s Office

You’d like to think your veterinarian is a wonderful, kind, animal loving person. Certainly most of them are. Like every profession, however, there are good ones and there are… monsters. Here are the stories of four veterinarians who fell far short of the ideal.

1. The “Vampire Veterinarian” of Fort Worth

When their veterinarian told Jamie and Marian Harris in 2013 that their faithful dog Sid had a congenital spine defect, they believed him. Why shouldn’t they? Poor Sid had been “under treatment” at the vet’s Forth Worth office for three or four months and he was going downhill fast.

Dr. Millard Lucien “Lou” Tierce told the Harrises that Sid couldn’t be cured. Heartbroken, they said goodbye to their dog and left the clinic, believing Dr. Tierce would euthanize him. He didn’t. What he reportedly did instead was unthinkable.

Dr. Tierce is alleged to have kept Sid in a dirty, waste-ridden cage for months, bleeding him for plasma transfusions for other animals he was treating. Worse yet, there are allegations he harvested other dogs’ organs and kept one alive as a plasma donor for almost five years.

A former vet technician at the clinic couldn’t stand what was going on and finally telephoned the Harrises. Shocked, they staged a rescue. While Jamie Harris distracted the staff at the front of the clinic, Marian sneaked in the back and whisked poor Sid out the rear door.

Dr. Tierce was arrested on Apr. 30, 2014 and charged with animal cruelty. The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners intends to meet on an emergency basis to deal with this case. The Harrises have filed a civil lawsuit against Dr. Tierce and his clinic seeking $1 million in damages.

2. Practicing Without a License, Hoarding Animals

Dr. Debra Clopton lost her license to practice in 2012. Despite that, in a May 2013 raid of her Edgewood, N.M., home, authorities reportedly found veterinary records, billing information and receipts for treatment. They also found a euthanasia medication that is a controlled substance. Apparently, Clopton had quietly chosen to continue practicing veterinary medicine from her house without a license.

Worse, police found 48 dogs crammed into the small three-bedroom home. Evaluation of the rescued dogs revealed their condition to be fair to poor. Five of the dogs were pregnant, which meant that the local shelter ended up having to care for nearly 80 dogs from this incident alone. Sadly, three of the dogs rescued from Clopton’s home were so ill they had to be euthanized.

Watch a news story about Clopton here:

Authorities charged Clopton with 48 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and ordered her to pay $27,000 for the care of her dogs. This was reportedly not the first time Clopton faced legal trouble over hoarding animals. Her license remains suspended.

3. The Vet Who Scalded a Puppy and Cut Off its Mangled Tail

What do you do when you see a veterinarian hold a puppy’s injured tail under scalding water and then snip at it with scissors, all without any painkillers? If you’re an undercover investigator, you report him.

That’s how Dr. Tom Stevenson of the Twin Valley Veterinary Clinic in Honey Brook, Pa., found himself in hot water in 2010. A woman working an unrelated undercover investigation of a kennel for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals happened to be present when Dr. Stevenson was handed an injured puppy.

The owner of the kennel said he’d partially severed the puppy’s tail while grooming it the previous day.

dog at veterinarian's office

The investigator testified that Stevenson ran the tap water in a sink until it was steaming. He then held the puppy’s injured tail under the hot water while it yelped in pain. He used scissors to cut off pieces of the dog’s injured tail, making at least six cuts. He didn’t wash his hands or the scissors before he did so, she said. He used no anesthetic at all.

Stevenson denied the charges, but the judge convicted him, finding he acted “unreasonably, and was utterly indifferent” to the dog’s suffering or the likelihood of infection. Stevenson’s license was temporarily suspended, but he has since been permitted to resume practicing.

4. Botched Euthanasia by an Unlicensed Vet Lets Dog Die Horribly

When one of his clients needed Dr. Ralph Grogan, 83, of Tulsa, Okla., to euthanize his sick dog, Harry, in 2012, he had no idea what was about to happen.

Grogan reportedly put down the dog using a muscle relaxant, a method not approved by the state. The appalling result, according to the client, Tom Perry, was that “the procedure was neither quick or painless.” Can you imagine watching your dog die horribly?

Dog getting vaccine

“He gave him something through his leg at first that did not work,” Perry told Fox23 News, ”so then he shaved another part of him and then Harry started convulsing. It was like he did not want to let go. I started to cry, my mother started to cry too.”

When Perry reported the situation to the Oklahoma Veterinary Board, he found out that Grogan had lost his license to practice at least eight months earlier because of tax problems.

Authorities charged Grogan with two felonies — cruelty to an animal and writing a false prescription for phenobarbital. He was also charged with a misdemeanor for practicing without a license. Grogen pled no contest to the felonies. The court sentenced him to one year, which was deferred. Upon completion of one year on probation, the felony counts may be dismissed and his record expunged.

Grogan reportedly is no longer practicing.

The lesson to take away here is to pay close attention at your veterinarian’s office. Trust your gut instinct. If your vet isn’t compassionate, is secretive, doesn’t respond to your calls, or just doesn’t seem to know what he or she is doing, look for a new vet. Don’t delay — your furry best friend is counting on you.

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Photo credit (all images): Thinkstock

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91 comments

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2:20AM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Wow, this is very scary :(

2:20AM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Wow, this is very scary :(

2:02AM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Very disturbing :(:( We all need to check references when looking for a vet.

2:17PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Rotten apples everywhere in every profession.

4:29AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

I do not care how many years they study to be vets - some vets lack compassion, some are just careless and some are working with domestic pets while they would prefer to work with wild or farm animals. Don't like sniveling little pampered creatures.
I have had both. From the best vet to the worst and paid the price with heartache you cannot imagine. My personal experience has taught me to find out everything about the vet from other patients. Never ever leave my bird or dog there unless I absolutely have to. Check on the animal/bird daily even though it is aggravating the vet. It is your fur/feathered child so it is your responsibility to care for it fully until it's last breath and even then, please hold it's paw,touch it so that it knows you love it until it's last breath!

10:33PM PDT on May 18, 2014

I couldn't read all of this post. It was too disturbing.

10:50PM PDT on May 17, 2014

(cont)............As I said, both of those dogs have now also passed, and each one was taken to the clinic, I sat with each when the 1st shot was given to make them drowsy. They slipped into a state of sleep with their head in my lap. They didn't see me crying my eyes out "after", nor were either cognizant of what was coming next, nor were my last memories of them not alive or breathing anymore. Each person's circumstances may be different, and each person handles such things differently. I wouldn't criticize anyone for wanting to be at their pet's side and watching them stopping breathing, but that's not what I chose to do. None of my pets were with ONLY strangers when they had their last waking moments.

10:49PM PDT on May 17, 2014

Well said, Mandy. I haven't mentioned having to have 2 old horses euthanized, but the first time was my "almost" 34-yr-old Half-Arab mare. I'd owned her since she was 2, and she was old, yes, but except for a few bouts with arthritis, always healthy and great appetite. The night that ended with her being euthanized, she'd eaten heartily earlier, walking around normally (for a 34-yr-old) and when I went out to feed the last time, she was down and wouldn't get up. I tried everything and she just laid there, struggled a few times, and acted like she was giving up. I called my vet who came as quickly as he could (a one hour drive for him). He worked on her for 3 hours and said her system was shutting down and little hope. She was too weak to survive a trailer ride to a large animal hospital, and she was going into shock. I walked her outside her paddock, knowing that her body would have to be removed and it wouldn't have been possible "inside". Her pasture-mate just stood and watched. I held her leadrope when the first I.V. was given to make her sleepy and then my vet told me to go in the house, as I was crying so hard, that was upsetting her. I did as he advised and heard the "thud" when the 2nd shot was given, my other mare screaming, and that was it. My vet did all the rest and that was for everyone's benefit. My standing there would have served no purpose but to further upset both my mare AND myself, not to mention both my dogs, who knew something was wrong.

4:32AM PDT on May 17, 2014

Also each time has been as gentle as getting a needle can be, my guinea pigs were put completely out with anesthesia before the lethal injection which due to the tiny veins of guinea pigs must be injected into the heart so that it activates instantly without bursting the vein and thus causing pain. Again I knew all of this before they were put to sleep (which was agonising), I knew come my appointment, which was 24hours away, she would be put to sleep and so I Googled what the most humane way to put a guinea pig to sleep is. I wanted to know what signs were danger signs, what was normal and what wasn't. The whole time I was doing that I was holding her or I had her and her cage-mate on my lap, it was heart breaking reading about how they were going to put her to sleep and looking for crematoriums which would take guinea pigs.

4:31AM PDT on May 17, 2014

This is why I'm obsessed with reviews, I check the reviews of a vet practice to see what other people's experiences have been and I like to check up on the vets past as well. Granted I'm paranoid, I suspect everyone and if I don't like what I see I wont see that particular vet again. Most of the time the reason why I don't like a vet is because I feel they're too washy or they're interested mainly in your money, I've only ever once come across a vet which I felt didn't handle my guinea pig very well and I've never had a vet who has mishandled my dogs. I'm pretty sure the vet who wasn't overly great at handling my guinea pig wasn't actually trained as an exotic vet (it was an emergency, she needed to be seen) but she was a good cat/dog vet. However like I said I'm paranoid and this sort of care comes naturally to me, I'm not saying I care more about my pets than anyone else who takes their fur babies to the vet so please don't get that idea. That said, as painful as it is I do advise that everyone stays with any animal which is being put to sleep for whatever reason. Not only is it comforting for the animal but when you're present vets are much less likely to botch the procedure. I've had the awful experience of having three fur babies put to sleep and each time I've been there to see them off, it's hard but I know they've been calm (although one of my guinea pigs was so tired from her seizures that she wasn't even aware we'd left the house) each and every time. Also each time

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