Our pets are our family and they are critical to our mental and physical well being. Time to give out pets the dignity and value they deserve.
When I first started this journey, I thought for sure I could easily get Emily justice with the help of an attorney. Then I learned that there are no attorneys that specialize in veterinary negligence, only animal bites and custody issues. The reason is that our courts have decided that our pets have no value. Without value, there is nothing to sue for. Therefore, no attorneys exist in this field. Advocates, like Harvard Law’s Chris Greene, have been trying to change this but veterinary lobbyists have stopped cold every attempt to change the laws. Emily’s original veterinarian also declined to step up for Emily against the offending veterinarian, teaching me that veterinarians will not go against each other as they also don’t want the laws changed as they don’t want to have to carry malpractice insurance. I couldn’t believe it when Emily’s regular vet wouldn’t help us. She had originally called me outraged at what had happened to Emily. When I asked her to put her outrage in writing, she declined. Complaining to the local veterinary board is an option but since they are made up of veterinarians, I don’t believe there will be favorable results there either.
So what can we do? Our hope is for help. One of our hopes for help was Harvard University’s Chris Greene. He wrote the following paper, “The future of veterinary malpractice liability in the care of companion animals”, full article https://www.animallaw.info/sites/default/files/vol10_p163.pdf. I have reached out to Chris but have not yet received a response. I also reached out to several student animal law groups and also did not receive a response. I need help getting legislation passed to change the laws.
I can’t do this by myself. It will take an army. And who will that be? Every single one of you who loves their pet and there are MILLIONS of us. There are more of us than there are of the lobbyists. We can win this fight. I need everyone out there who loves their pet to get on board and help me get these laws changed. I would love each and every one of you who is upset and wants to take action to start researching how to change the laws in your state. Now that you know the problem, let’s work on finding a solution. I hope that I can get so many people upset at what is going on, that as a group, we can finally make some real changes. I hope you are as outraged as I am at my story and the other outrageous veterinary malpractice stories on this site. I hope you are just as disgusted that there is no punishment for veterinarians who harm our pets. I hope you will all join me in this fight to get the laws changed in each and every state in our beloved country. It is time.
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If Emily’s Story Isn’t Enough to Outrage You, These Stories Should
Other Cases of Veterinary Negligence
The Peraino Family
The plight of the Peraino family resulted in tragedy when the couple left their pet Doberman, Nera, with a veterinarian, Dr. Jordan Miller, to have a tooth pulled. Miller performed the surgery and Mr. Peraino came to the animal hospital to pick up Nera. Jamie Sacks and Edythe Harrison, two veterinary assistants, claim that Miller later viciously beat Nera to death because he was having difficulty getting the dog from the basement recovery room to the waiting area upstairs where the dog would be picked up. Sacks claims that Miller kicked Nera and beat her with a pole until she fell backward. Harrison claims that she found the dog dead in a pool of blood in a cage. When the Perainos learned that the dog was dead, they met with Miller who told them that the dog had died of a heart attack. Subsequently, however, Sacks and Harrison, who by this time had quit their jobs because of Miller’s alleged treatment of Nera, told the Perainos what they witnessed.
When the couple later confronted the veterinarian about the incident, the court record shockingly alleges that Dr. Miller tried to provoke Mr. Peraino into a fist fight with profanity, said that the dead dog was “fat and ugly, just like your wife,” and asked the couple if they had yet “made a rug out of the dead dog’s body.” The Perainos were both 62 years old at the time.
In response, Mrs. Peraino picketed the veterinarian’s office under police escort every single day for the next two years. Thirteen years later, she says she still thinks of Nera every day and often has trouble sleeping when she imagines the veterinarian kicking that “member of her family” to death. Indeed, because the whole ordeal was so traumatic, she never replaced Nera with another dog. Moreover, Mrs. Peraino reports that both she and her husband became severely depressed over the incident, and in the midst of the legal proceedings, Mr. Peraino had to undergo emergency angioplasty to prevent a heart attack.
In the minds of both the trial and appeals court judges, however, all of Dr. Miller’s actions combined did not amount to the legal definition of outrageousness. Accordingly, these courts threw out the Perainos’ emotional damages claims before any jury was ever able to hear the facts, much less consider them. In justifying their position, the judges declared: “There is no occasion for the law to intervene every time someone’s feelings are hurt.”
In a later related suit, a competing veterinarian obtained a substantial financial settlement from the American Veterinary Medical Association Professional Liability Insurance Trust (AVMA-PLIT) after Dr. Miller allegedly put up posters falsely accusing this other veterinarian of being the one who killed the Peraino’s dog. Threatening calls to the other veterinarian over the lawsuit also were traced to the payphone attached to Dr. Miller’s practice. In spite of these actions
and the financial liability he posed, the AVMA-PLIT continued to insure Dr. Miller for at least another decade.
End result? Dr. Miller continued to practice veterinary medicine with no official reprimand and the Perainos went home to face thousands of dollars in legal fees generated from this suit which their veterinarian actually had initiated against them.
Stephen Ginsburg, D.V.M
In the Matter of Steven J. Ginsburg, D.V.M., supra n. 97, at 5 (“During the course of the Department’s investigation, it was determined that employees observed Respondent slap, hit, punch, throw and otherwise abuse animals.”). One employee testified that when a sick cat that would not lie still for a procedure, Dr. Ginsburg “got mad, grabbed the cat by the scruff of the neck . . . raised his arms as far as he could,” and “slammed its face on the surgery table,” instantly killing the pet. Transcript of Investigative Interview with Employee by Animal Control Officer (Oct. 14, 1999) (contained in state board case file, employee name withheld in file for privacy reasons, file indicates that this interview is with different employee than one quoted supra n. 97).
101 Mich. Dept. of Consumer & Indus. Serv. Press Release, Kalamazoo Veterinarian’s License Suspended, http://www.michigan.gov/cis/0,1607,7-154-10573_11472-49517— M_2001_8,00.html (Aug. 23, 2001) (the state board, however, did fine the veterinarian $2,000 and gave him 2 years probation).
Ray v. Department of Reg. And Education
102 See Ray v. Dept. of Reg. and Educ., 419 N.E.2d 413, 415 (Ill. App. 1981) (“Department investigators testified that plaintiff practiced out of his home and surgery was performed in the kitchen . . . several dogs had been tied to a tree after receiving medical care . . . instruments lying on the floor . . . maggots in a dog food bowl, the odor of urine soaked carpeting and dried blood,” and multiple cases of animals receiving improper treatment). The veterinarian was allowed to continue practicing after a 180 day suspension.
Massachusetts Race Track Veterinarian
Division of Professional Licensure, The Board of Registration in Veterinary
Medicine, http://www.state.ma.us/reg/boards/vt/ (accessed Jan. 15, 2004) (has sincebeen updated with 2003 data). In 2003, the Massachusetts Veterinary Board took no disciplinary action at all against a race track veterinarian who had continued to certify a greyhound named Willie as “fit to race” even after track workers expressed concern that the dog had been too sick to finish earlier heats. When Willie died two hours after his final race, an autopsy showed that the dog had “collapsed lungs, 2 liters of blood in the right side of his chest, 1 1/2 liters in the left side . . . a blood clot that would have taken weeks to develop,” and “a large fibrous mass” resulting from “a penetrating wound to his stomach.” Despite ignoring these blatant injuries and contributing to Willie’s death, the state board unanimously cleared the veterinarian of any wrongdoing.
See Stephen Seitz, Track Vet Cleared of Negligence, The Union Leader (Manchester, NH) A5 (Jan. 18, 2003) (local newspaper article describing the events); Stephen Seitz, Negligence Alleged Against Hinsdale Track Veterinarian, The Union Leader
(Manchester, NH) B2 (Nov. 20, 2002).
State of Kentucky
E-mail from Jennifer McKenzie, Board Administrator, Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners (Oct. 14, 2003) – “We receive so many complaints each year that we do not keep record of how many come into our office.”. A statement that is not exactly confidence inspiring.