This, however, is not about them.
This is one of those occasions where I’m both appalled, yet also not surprised. Sounds strange to even say it, but it’s true. Having dealt with a variety of veterinarians, both from a personal standpoint as well as through a rescue group, I’ve seen just how inept some vets can be – and how little can be done if they are.
This dog’s ear was allegedly bitten off in a dog fight.
I’ve had experiences where a vet, rather than attempt to consider a different line of treatment, simply blamed it on the person bringing in the pet. That actually happened with me. We were fostering a tiny kitten, a little guy who was miserably sick with an upper-respiratory infection that not only was not getting any better over time, it was getting worse. He had a hard time just breathing, didn’t care to eat, and was lethargic. Being new to fostering, and knowing next to zip about cats’ health issues, I wasn’t aware of much; I relied on the vet one hundred percent. After weeks of treating this little kitten with the same antibiotic prescribed for him over and over, after caring for him following doc’s orders to a tee, all I heard from the vet was that I must not be taking care of him properly. That was a last straw. My kids and I had practically been living in the bathroom, taking turns to have him in there while we showered, or just to hold him near the bathroom sink with hot water running, for the steam to help him breathe. We microwaved his baby food, and spoon-fed it to him in the bathroom with the extra steam. We held him, sang to him, talked to him. Nothing was changing, other than he seemed sicker. And yes, we gave him his meds, religiously.
Fortunately, the person in charge of the cat team for our rescue knew us well, and knew that we would indeed be doing everything possible. This vet had already prescribed the same, basic, antibiotic for a third time, even though the kitten was getting sicker. The rescue sent us to a different vet. Immediately upon examination, she told me she thought the little guy might not really be suffering from an upper-respiratory infection, so much as pneumonia. She prescribed a different antibiotic, and insisted I call her the very next afternoon. When I called to report that he already seemed a bit better, we both were thrilled. But I doubt she would know just how thrilled I was! This second vet then asked for another check in a couple days, along with prescribing a different med that would definitely work well with what she suspected. Our little guy got better. God knows, he probably would not have lived if we’d continued with that other vet.
Over time we experienced other issues with a couple vets, things that no one in their right mind, let alone professionals, would do or neglect to do with animals in their care. There was one group of vets that blatantly neglected the animals or managed them in a manner to the point of making them sick; which then would require their services (read that as $$$). When our group attempted to sit down and discuss these things with them, they were arrogant, resistant, and frustratingly without concern for the welfare of animals. We stopped all dealings with them. There are plenty of vets in town; when you’re looking at a sick animal, there’s only one of them. And what we found out in the process of all this, was that it’s next to impossible to see to it that incompetent, let alone outright greedy, sick vets, do not practice. There’s virtually no system that will even procure the proverbial slap on the wrist. Is there an agency that oversees veterinarians? Yes. Is there a process through which one can complain, pointing out where and how one feels a vet is acting improperly, not practicing good medicine? Yes. What happens when one complains about such a vet? Usually very little to nothing.
And so, this story about a vet who was beyond reprehensible doesn’t surprise me. There are sickos out there. And there is a process for removing the license, even if for a suspension, or enacting fines. But what happens in reality? Those sickos continue to practice.
In the past:
Dr. Gary Friederich’s license first was suspended from September 1988 until March 1989, and he was put on probation from March 1989 until September 1991.
The current events occurred because of a five-month long investigation by the sheriff’s department, after many complaints against him, and included undercover officers acting as dog-fighters. Dr. Friederich agreed to see dogs brought to him that had allegedly been used in dog fights, requesting they come through the back door so as to not be seen by others. The officers went so far as to detail the fights in their conversations with him. He agreed to treat the dogs, even told them they’d be good for fighting again. Although he charged for vaccinations and spays, he did not treat the pets for those, but sent them on their way with documentation asserting he had done so. He did not report the dog fighting. Furthermore, when examined by another vet afterward, the dogs were found to have contracted fleas and kennel cough from their stay in his practice.
|Dog with bitten ear|
Dr. Friederich’s license is now suspended; he has a court hearing on January 31, 2011. It took something this extreme to stop this vet from his business; why must we wait until there are such dramatic or extensive circumstances? Isn’t one dog’s, or one cat’s, life enough? Yes, things sometimes just don’t go as they should with procedures and surgeries. But egregious mistakes, results, or behavior are nowhere in that category.
I only hope that this time we see some teeth.
It’s hard to believe that people who go through the many years and all the work it takes to become a vet to care for animals, could have so little regard for them.