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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 10 June 2003 Issue

Vet Med alumnus charged with practice violations
Doctor calls case 'smear campaign'

By William Dillon
Daily Correspondent
April 28, 2003

An ISU alumnus of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Order of the Knoll member could have both his veterinary license and his clinic's operating license revoked if allegations brought against him and his clinic by the California Veterinary Medical Board are ruled true.

The case against Robert Rooks, class of 1978, and his Fountain Valley veterinary clinic, All-Care Animal Referral Center, contains nine allegations, including employing nonlicensed technicians, creating fraudulent and inaccurate records, misleading clients regarding the identification of his staff and being negligent and deceitful in practice, according to board documents.

The case is scheduled to begin Monday.

Rooks said these allegations by the California veterinary Medical Board have been brought on as a "smear campaign" against him by two disgruntled former employees.

The California Veterinary Medical Board is accusing Rooks of hiring a "heavy equipment operator," identified only as M.W. in board records to protect his identity, as a surgical technician in 1995 although M.W. had never been licensed as a veterinarian or registered as a veterinary technician in the State of California.

Board documents allege M.W., while he was employed by Rooks, "engaged in the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine" as part of his regular duties and responsibilities, including administering anesthesia, making incisions and closing wounds.

Allegations eight and nine from the California Veterinary Medical Board claim Rooks was negligent and deceitful in his treatment of a dog named Rocky. According to board documents, the board claims there was no "objective clinical evidence" warranting the procedure performed on Rocky.

The two former employees who Rooks said brought on this case are M.W., the former "heavy equipment officer," and a person referred to as L.H. in board documents. The original accusation report, drafted on Aug. 28, 2001, by the California Veterinary Medical Board contained seven charges against Rooks, each containing testimony from one of the two former employees. On Oct. 25, 2002, the board's accusation report was amended to include the last two charges focusing on the dog Rocky.

"These allegations are political in nature," Rooks said. "These claims are meritless."

In response to the allegations, Rooks said he stayed within the guidelines of the Veterinary Practice Act.

"Having unlicensed assistants was within the Practice Act," Rooks said.

"Probably 80 to 90 percent of assistants employed [at veterinary clinics] are unlicensed."

"If I was a bad veterinarian or a bad person, I wouldn't have won the practitioner award in 1996," he said referring to the Charles E. Bild Practitioner of the Year Award given to him by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Rooks has been recognized by the university on a number of occasions as well.

He was awarded the ISU Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 1986. This award is given by the ISU Alumni Association to alumni under the age of 40 whose "achievement in career, public service and volunteer activities are worthy of recognition and have brought honor to the university," according to the Alumni Associations Web site, www.isualum.org.

Rooks has also been a member of the Order of the Knoll, a premier donor recognition society at Iowa State that requires a minimum donation of $15,000, for "a number of years" said Monica Porter of the ISU Foundation.

Rooks said he donated $50,000 to build the intensive care unit at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The trial is scheduled to conclude in three to four weeks.

In the previous three years, 95 cases have been brought before the California Attorney General's Office from the California Veterinary Medical Board, said Susan Geranen, the board's executive officer.

"Normally in these cases, action is taken against the individual," she said.

In most cases, she said licenses are placed on probation instead of being revoked outright. Cases may result in the suspension of an individual's license, the clinic's practicing license, fines, cost recovery, restitution, continued education for the individual or requiring the veterinarian to supply quarterly reports or supervised practice, Geranen said.

Geranen said only possible serious violations are forwarded to the Attorney General's Office. After an administrative law judge finds on the case, the case is returned to the California Veterinary Medical Board for action.

Rooks is the owner and director of the All-Care Animal Referral Center. The 24-hour critical-care facility treats more than 30,000 animals annually and employs a staff of 20 veterinarians and 65 technicians, according to the center's Web site, www.acarc.com
. The hospital houses the technology to perform neurosurgery and neuro-diagnostics, cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for pets.

Return to Animals in Print 10 June 2003 Issue

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