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.
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?
“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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