Warrant: Fort Worth vet said dog should've been euthanized

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by JOSH DAVIS

WFAA.com

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 10:57 AM

Camp Bowie Animal Clinic

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FORT WORTH -- The order from the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that temporarily suspended a Fort Worth veterinarian's license alleges the vet's clinic was "unsanitary" and that he kept five animals after he had told their owners they would be euthanized.

"[Dr. Lou Tierce] told one of the Board investigators that it was his decision, and not the decision of the animal owner, whether or not an animal should be euthanized," the order says.

Veterinarian Dr. Lou Tierce turned himself into Fort Worth police Wednesday night to face an animal cruelty charge after complaints that a dog brought to his clinic for euthanization was never put down. He posted a $10,000 bond and returned to the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic Thursday.

According to spokeswoman Loris Jones, the state board temporarily suspended Tierce's license Wednesday at about 4 p.m. after an emergency phone hearing with the executive discipline committee. A full hearing regarding his license will be held in the near future, though they have not scheduled the exact date and time.

The veterinary board order recounts the investigation into Tierce after Marian and James Harris filed a formal complaint on April 22 that the vet had taken their dog, Sid, to the clinic in October 2013 where he was diagnosed with a congenital spine condition. They say Tierce said "there was nothing that could be done for the condition," according to the order, and they elected to have the dog euthanized rather than have him remain in pain.

"They [Marian and James Harris] and their son all told Sid goodbye after again being told that nothing could be done for Sid's condition," the report says.

In April 2014, the Harris family said Mary Brewer, a veterinary tech from the clinic, contacted them and told them Sid was alive, and that he (along with several other animals) were being kept in cages "for 23.5 hours a day while being experimented on."

The family went to the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic and removed Sid and, according to the report, Tierce admitted to the family he had kept the dog alive -- even though they had paid for and believed he was put down.

Their formal complaint sparked a board investigation at the clinic on Tuesday where investigators saw "unsanitary" conditions, including animal organs kept in jars throughout the clinic. There were also visible bugs in examination rooms and stacks of "drugs, trash, laundry, paperwork, and other miscellaneous material" were strewn across the office on Lovell Avenue.

"Open and unsecured medications, including some controlled substances, were also strewn about the clinic and in such a fashion that controlled substances could easily be stolen and abused by employees, clients, or visitors of the clinic," the order says.

Tierce also gave investigators a handwritten, signed statement that said he had accepted five animals for euthanasia at his clinic and did not euthanize the animals.

After the Fort Worth police arrived at the clinic Tuesday afternoon, they discovered three dogs were "in such decrepit shape that they had to be euthanized." The order said Tierce admitted two of those dogs and two other animals were left at his clinic to be put down.

"Additionally, one of the two other animals had been kept at his clinic in a cage for two to three years after he had accepted it for euthanasia," the order says.

According to the Fort Worth police arrest affidavit, officers accompanied two members of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and Fort Worth animal control officers on a tour of the facility Tuesday and found a black-and-white border collie "twitching in pain."

"[The dog was] lying in a box on the floor of an examination room," the warrant said. The dog had one leg missing, one leg dislocated, and two dislocated shoulders.

Cynthia Welch, a veterinary technician at the clinic, told police she had worked at the clinic since June 2013, and the dog was lying in the same spot then it was now and she "had not seen any medical treatment given to the dog" since she began working at Camp Bowie Animal Clinic.

According to police, Tierce said the border collie was his dog, and he had given it food and water but no medical treatment.

"He said he had not euthanized the dog even though in his professional opinion he knew it needed to be," the warrant said.

Another vet who examined the collie later said it "was emaciated, had severe mouth disease, cataracts, abnormal overall health, non-ambulatory bottom of foot missing, had a degenerative neurological and untreatable disease and should have been euthanized when originally accepted for treatment."

The dog was put down by the Fort Worth Animal Shelter.

The vet who examined the collie said "in his professional opinion, the animal was a victim of animal cruelty and the conditions of the clinic were deplorable," according to the warrant.

Tierce was arrested for cruelty to the collie, but more charges may follow.

"Based on the evidence presented [...] [a panel of board members] determines that [Tierce's] continuation in the practice of veterinary medicine would constitute a continuing threat to the public welfare," the order concludes.

Despite the criminal and administrative issues, people like Carey Hix were still showing up at the clinic to throw their support behind the vet.

“I came to show support to the best vet and one of the best men that I know; a very hard working man who saved my dog and my cat’s life,” she told News 8. “I think no matter what he does, he does it for the animals best interest. And I truly believe that with all my heart.”

A state hearing for Dr. Lou Tierce is scheduled for May 9 in Austin.

Fort Worth police say any pet owners who wish to make a report about Camp Bowie Animal Clinic should call the department's non-emergency number, 817-335-4222. Tell the operator you wish to make  a report about the clinic at 5709 Lovell Avenue and mention related report No. 14-37697.

News 8's Lauren Zakalik also contributed to this story

Dr. Tierce Order of Temporary Suspension

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