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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 18 July 2001 Issue

Do Licenses Protect Abusive Veterinarians?

nl-18jul2001-lucy.jpg (10033 bytes)Veterinarians are a special group of professionals. They spend many years in study and intensive training. To be a Doctor of Veterinary medicine requires patience, but most of all, trust and compassion. This type of doctor needs to have a deep love of all animals to be successful.

There has been an increase in complaints against veterinarians abusing animal patients and it is becoming more common. Companion pets are left by their trusting guardians in the hands of doctors who may actually be cruel to them. If you believe that a veterinarian will never intentionally hurt your companion animal, remember there are documented cases where what goes on behind closed doors is very different from what is presented in the exam room.

I was employed for a veterinarian when a helpless dog came in with a broken spine after being hit by a car. Her guardian requested her to be euthanized. The doctor did not euthanize her but instead inflicted abuse. I stood there horrified and observed an injured dog endure abuse at the hands of a man who had sworn an oath to ease suffering and treat with compassion. She was further subjected to neglect when she was left alone all night after falling out of her cage. She was unable to walk because of the injury to her back. Later, an employee stated to me that the veterinarian threw the dog to the floor from the table during a X-ray. This dog was not a victim once, but twice; first from a car accident, then from one individual who swore under oath to relieve the suffering of animals. I never imagined that it would be difficult to report and to prove such a horrendous act committed by a veterinarian. After all abuse is abuse no matter who you are or what title you hold. Or is it?

An increasing number of veterinary employees from all over America have stated witnessed accounts of veterinary abuse. The witness may have a feeling of helplessness, not knowing what to do. Some witnesses are afraid to speak out against a wealthy DVM. More are frustrated because after filing a complaint, all to often the authorities allow the abuser to walk away. There are clients who suspect that their pet was abused. Clients also are left feeling helpless as authorities all too often sweep such allegations under the rug.

When an employee files an allegation against a veterinarian, people may think that they are angry or in a disagreement with the vet for whom they worked. A few people, including the abusive veterinarian, may conveniently label the witness who speaks out a "disgruntled employee". Of course the abusive vet will use anything he can to protect his/her image and he or she will always have the clout of a Veterinarian. In contrast, there is absolutely nothing the witness will gain by speaking out against a veterinarian who abuses an animal. The witness employed by the Vet will stand to lose his or her job. Threats may be made against them. They risk the possibility of being sued for slander. However, the one thing they will never lose is their compassion for the abused animals.

Many animal patients are voiceless victims. If the witness speaking out for them is not evidence enough for authorities to take action, then nothing will ever be. The only witness in such a case is the human being that speaks out. Authorities must awaken to recognize that a veterinarian is just as capable of inflicting abuse as any individual. One should not assume that just because a veterinarian holds a medical degree and license he or she is innocent of such a crime. I question why our authorities do not see that it may be easier for a veterinarian to abuse animals than for a lay person. After all, the vet is in position -daily - to abuse defenseless animals behind closed doors, if he or she is inclined to do so. The vet in fact has more opportunity and means than any other individual who might be inclined to abuse animals.

Two years have gone by since I witnessed a veterinarian's abuse of the dog with a broken spine. I have in my possession 30 pages of transcribed verbal statements given by four additional witnesses alleging neglect, abuse and killing of animals by the same veterinarian. Yet today this veterinarian is still practicing. To witness veterinarian abuse of a helpless, suffering and frightened animal is a horrifying experience. It is not unlike a pediatrician hitting an unsettled, helpless and frightened child during an office visit. How can anyone find this to be acceptable?

Lisa Marie MyREBAdog@att.net 

**The purpose of this writing is to educate pet guardians who may not be aware of what occurs when their pets are left in the hands of an abusive veterinarian. It is in no way intended to discriminate against compassionate veterinarians who practice medicine.

Return to Animals in Print 18 Jul 2001 Issue

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