Suki's Safe Haven is exactly what it sounds like - a safe place for victims of veterinary incompetence, negligence, and abuse to obtain information about this disturbing but important subject. It's a companion site to The Veterinary Abuse Network, which grew out of a site founded in 2000 in memory of Suki the Cat, REPEATEDLY MISTREATED BY EDWARD J NICHOLS DVM, CRESTWAY ANIMAL CLINIC, San Antonio, and to alert the public of serious flaws in state board systems that routinely look the other way to protect the vets - and not our pets. You'll find original posts and articles as well as links to victims' stories, resources, other sites and blogs, and media coverage from all over the net. We'll also cover First Amendment issues for those of us who have been sued by the very veterinarians who mistreated our pets and then used the legal system in an attempt to silence us.

We will never forget. We will never be silenced.

This is an independent consumer advocacy blog and not associated with any government agency in any way.

December 31, 2013

Is This the Worst Vet of 2013? Shirley Sara Koshi of Gentle Hands Veterinary Strikes Back with Bizarre Version Regarding Her "Theft" of Karl the Cat, Claims She Has "Sold Karl"

UPDATE: During the open NYS Board investigation and the pending lawsuit in the NYC courts, and reportedly uncooperative in both, Shirley Koshi committed suicide in her home in 2014. Karl was found safe and later taken with other cats to an NYC shelter. Karl was retrieved by Gwen Jurmark and placed in the forever home of a concerned advocate. Another cat was retrieved about a week later from the vet's locked clinic, weak and dehydrated but otherwise okay. After Koshi's death, a cybermob led by a longtime troubled vet with behind-the-scenes help from her friends and professional veterinary organizations began a years-long campaign of continuous attacks, stalking, and threats against citizen advocates, blaming us for "cyberbullying to death" an adult medical professional, licensee of the state, and keeper of public health and trust. This vet-led mob is made up of the same people who never uttered one word in Koshi's defense while she was alive, instead using her death to promote intimidation against anyone who dares to speak out against veterinary misconduct. They will not succeed.


According to Shirley Sara (or Sara Shirley) Koshi (or Koshy, if you go by her family spelling), Karl the Cat has been sold.

Dr. Shirley Sara/Shirley Sara Koshi/Koshy told the court at a preliminary hearing in December that she SOLD KARL to his new owner. This is a woman who has had veterinary licenses in five states and by her own admission has worked in about 30 different animal hospitals over her “career.” She just opened her hole-in-the-wall storefront on Johnson Avenue in July of 2013 and a mere one month later she had already taken Karl. Just the type of stable individual that we should all look to as a paradigm of veterinary virtue (NOT!) to make life and death decisions about animals. 

I just have two words for this creepazoid vet who allegedly stole a client's cat on the apparent basis that she 1) either doesn't have the capacity to understand how cat colonies and caretakers work, or 2) doesn't LIKE the idea of cat colonies and caretakers and has appointed herself the queen and ruler of the animal kingdom and simply took Karl as her own, which the evidence and the timeline--which Koshi has conveniently ignored in her various versions of what “really” happened—seem to support. In short, Koshi doesn't really give a damn about what happens to animals who are taken out of their usual surroundings—whether she personally approves of those surroundings or not. And that goes double for colony cats. 

November 10, 2013

What Happened to Karl the Cat? Only Dr. Shirley Sara Koshi, Gentle Hands Veterinarian NYC Knows; Owner Files Suit to Get Karl Back


First Amendment in action! Protesters call for the
return of Karl the Cat from Shirley Sara Koshi, DVM,
owner of Gentle Hands Veterinarian, New York City,
who "appropriated" Karl in August and refuses to
return him to owner Gwen Jurmark (center, standing).
UPDATE: During the open NYS Board investigation and the pending lawsuit in the NYC courts, and reportedly uncooperative in both, Shirley Koshi committed suicide in her home in 2014. Karl was found safe and later taken with other cats to an NYC shelter. Karl was retrieved by Gwen Jurmark and placed in the forever home of a concerned advocate. Another cat was retrieved about a week later from the vet's locked clinic, weak and dehydrated but otherwise okay. After Koshi's death, a cybermob led by a longtime troubled vet with behind-the-scenes help from her friends and professional veterinary organizations began a years-long campaign of continuous attacks, stalking, and threats against citizen advocates, blaming us for "cyberbullying to death" an adult medical professional, licensee of the state, and keeper of public health and trust. This vet-led mob is made up of the same people who never uttered one word in Koshi's defense while she was alive, instead using her death to promote intimidation against anyone who dares to speak out against veterinary misconduct. They will not succeed.

Re: Case Index Number CV-015676-13/BX

Civil Court of the City of New York

Gwen Jurmark, Plaintiff vs. Dr. Shirley Koshi; Gentle Hands Veterinarian at Riverdale, P.C., Defendant(s)



When you've reported on BadVets as long as I have, you think you've heard every bizarro vet story there is. Every inane, inexcusable, indefensible tale of an arrogant, egotistical, off-the-rails and over-the-cliff veterinarian doing something that he or she is just not supposed to do. You would think you'd have heard it all by now. And you would be wrong. 

The story of Karl the Tuxedo Cat of Yonkers, New York is a sad and scary one, and every pet owner/guardian needs to listen up, because this could happen to you.

It is your worst nightmare: a vet decides, for no apparent reason (except hearsay and so far undocumented and unverifiable allegations of owner hoarding, disease, and abandonment of animals in public parks, none of which would give a vet the automatic right to keep someone's pet anyway) and without benefit of going through proper procedural channels set up by the New York State Office of the Professions to enforce the statutes of the New York State Veterinary Practice Act—a veterinarian, acting entirely on her own with no authority from anybody, decides to just...keep...your...pet

You heard right. You go to a vet's clinic at the end of the vet's prescribed “treatment plan,” with a fistful of money (we're talking close to $2000) to reclaim your pet, and the vet refuses to deal with you, does not “accept” your proof of ownership in the form of previous vet records, refuses payment, tells you to come back later, and/or calls the police on you. Not only that – four days into a 10-day hospitalization, the vet changes your pet's name and parades him all over her Facebook page as the newest member of her family. At some point, she reportedly microchips your pet with her own information (still waiting for verification on this), meanwhile calling the police and keeping you physically out of her clinic with one allegation or another.

All of the above and more happened to Karl the Cat and his owner/guardian, Gwen Jurmark, who is pictured above in her November 9, 2013 protest of Shirlay Sara Koshi, DVM, Gentle Hands Veterinarian at Riverdale to free Karl and let him come home.

September 19, 2013

Tribute Site Spotlight: Spanky's Voice



This is a second in a series that spotlights veterinary victims' Tribute Sites that go beyond the story of their own tragedy to help educate others on matters of public concern, health, and safety.

The site: http://spankysvoice.weebly.com/
Site owner: Nettie (Sissy) Dunn
Veterinarian: Gary Brackeen, Anchor Road Veterinary Clinic, Angleton, Texas

I'll cut right to the chase: Gary Brackeen of Angleton, Texas, is a bad vet. A very bad vet. Don't believe me? Read what the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners essentially had to say about this “doctor” when they issued a formal reprimand against him on October 18, 2011 in their Agreed Order, which resulted in a two-year probation, orders to take continuing education, and to pay restitution to Spanky's owner.


Dr. Brackeen violated 5 (five) Rules of Professional Conduct and admitted to self-administering 3 (three) prescription medications
Dr. Brackeen did not use the proper care or humane treatment that is required by the Veterinary Code of Ethics
Dr. Brackeen allows his unlicensed help to perform and medically treat animals without his input
Dr Brackeen failed to record the required information that would be helpful in diagnosing why an animal died while in his care
Dr. Brackeen dispensed prescription drugs for his personal use

It's that last one that's the killer: As if a regular BadVet isn't bad enough, how about a BadVet prescribing drugs for himself? Brackeen admitted to self-prescribing Lasix (diuretic), amoxicillin (antibiotic), and methocarbamol (muscle relaxant). Like all BadVets everywhere, none of these creeps ever think the rules apply to them. But even for a BadVet, Brackeen is a real horror story--and for anybody who thinks cheap vet care is the way to go, you may want to rethink that decision.

August 19, 2013

Veterinary Abuse Network Marks Anniversary of Founding on August 19, 2000

Suki, victim of Edward Nichols,
Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, TX,
and the guiding spirit behind VAN. 
It's our anniversary! We are either thirteen years old or ten years old, depending on how you count it. On August 19, 2000, two days after the monster who killed Suki was exonerated by a single board vet in Austin, I decided to start a site called S.A.V.E. Stop Abusive Vets Everywhere, to expose the travesty of injustice that took place in Austin when "Dr." Edward J. Nichols and Crestway Animal Clinic got away with prolonged, inexplicable, and hideous mistreatment of my most beloved companion. If a "doctor" this bad, this incompetent, this negligent, this stupid, arrogant, careless, sloppy, lazy and dishonest was allowed to inflict such medical horrors on an innocent animal, how many other "Ed Nichols" were out there putting pets at risk every day? 

Turns out way too many. When I began hearing from other vet victims from around the country and around the world, I decide that the site needed a bigger name to reflect what was obviously more than just one BadVet and one BadVetBoard. In 2003, S.A.V.E. evolved into The Veterinary Abuse Network, vetabusenetwork.com, and every year since then, more and more people are connecting with one another and mobilizing efforts. If we can't put an end to BadVets, then we can work at putting an end to the vet boards' protection of them, and to help foster laws that put a higher value on our animals as true members of our families--the very same human/animal bond that drives us to get our family members the best medical care possible. 

Many thanks to all of you who have written such wonderful messages of support and are fighting your own fights in your individual states. With every new victim I hear from who says they are filing a complaint, considering a vet mal lawsuit, putting up a blog, a site, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, organizing a picket, starting a petition, meeting with their elected representatives, attending their veterinary board meetings, fighting for their First Amendment rights, getting media coverage from investigative reporters, and spreading the word among their friends and neighbors about their own personal vet horror stories, I know that little by little, we WILL succeed. Our companions did not suffer and die in vain. We WILL hold more BadVets accountable--officially and unofficially, online and off--for their devastating, life-altering, unconscionably cruel and despicable mistreatment and deaths of our precious companions. As I say in Suki's Story:

"The monster can’t hurt Suki anymore. But he, and others like him, are still out there every day. Incompetent vets who “treat” our pets’ bodies, but can’t touch their spirits. They can steal our pets’ lives, but not their legacies. They can run away from the truth, but they can never escape themselves."

Together we will make sure that there is no place for BadVets to hide. Thank you for all you do for the animals, and keep fighting the good fight! 

July 25, 2013

Vet Abuse Network Is on Facebook!

Follow us on Facebook for the latest on BadVets in the news--some really BadVets! But it's not all about horror stories, although there are plenty of those (and we'll warn you of graphic images ahead of time). You can keep up with consumer information, news you need to know, legislative or veterinary board issues, or just share comments and insights with veterinary victims and others. Check out news from and links to other veterinary victim sites like RegretAVet (is there a vet you wish you'd never met?), EducateBeforeYouVaccinate, Lucky's LegacyNY, the BadVetDaily, JusticeforCharlotte, plus informational sites like The DogFather, Shirley'sWellnessCafe, The RabiesChallengeFund, and many more. Come on over!



June 16, 2013

Pet Dads: Remembering These Special Veterinary Victims on Father's Day and Always


 
"One More Day" -- video by Greg W. Munson
Read more about Stempy, Greg and Cindy after the jump. 

Of all of the veterinary victims who have lost their furkids to veterinary negligence and incompetence, there's something about a grown man fighting back tears that really gets to you. I don't know why. All I know is that my conversations and correspondence with men who have had to face what might possibly be the worst thing to ever happen to them―the loss of their beloved companion animal at the hands of a negligent vet―have been especially heart wrenching.

On this Father's Day, I recall breaking the news over the phone to my own dad about Suki's death.  After what seemed like forever, dad choked out one sentence--”She was a class act”--before breaking down and handing the phone to my mom, who could not speak at all after I told her. In fact, neither of my parents could set foot in my home for a full month after Suki's horrendous death from hideous mistreatment by an even more hideous quack. The thought of Suki―OUR Suki, our most wonderful, precious family member―taken so senselessly from her family was unbearable. For a man who had always been a dog person, remembering my dad finishing out Suki's little condo, bringing over a special “scratching log” and bowl of tasty homegrown grass, along with his camera to take pictures at Suki's little birthday parties, Suki's Christmas, Suki's Sitting Around, Suki's Everything, still makes me laugh. 

So to all of those wonderful Doggie Dads and Cat Pops, and all Pet Dads who have suffered the loss of their best friends because of a BadVet, you are in my thoughts today. Please know you are not alone. 

I can't let this Father's Day go by without a tribute to one of the most amazing Dog Dads I've ever known. Stempy the Shih Tzu―known as Daddy's Little Deputy―was the furkid of fellow Texan and consumer advocates Greg Munson and his wife Cindy.  

April 29, 2013

Tribute Site Spotlight: Mulan's Veterinary Horror Story


This is a first in a series that spotlights veterinary victims' Tribute Sites that go beyond the story of their own tragedy to help educate others on matters of public concern, health, and safety.

The site: http://www.petmalpractice.com/
Site owner: Cindy O' Malley
Veterinarian: William Schultz, DVM, Schultz Veterinary Clinic, Okemos, Michigan

The gauze that Schultz left inside Mulan during surgery
is surrounded by a growth the size of a cantaloupe. Photo:
Courtesy of Michigan State University.
Mulan's Story is a detailed, compelling site that takes the reader step by step through what happened to Alaskan Malamute Mulan at the hands of William Schultz, DVM, of Schultz Veterinary Clinic in Okemos, MI. This is a story that just goes from bad to worse and the pictures are devastating. Mulan lived, thanks to the efforts of veterinarians at Michigan State University, but is forever and irreparably damaged by the piece of gauze left inside her during surgery by Schultz (photo at left courtesy of MSU).

Among other things, two elements make this site powerful:

March 27, 2013

Suki's Safe Haven is One Year Old Today!

Suki, hard at "work" in our office all those years ago--and still
today serving as my guiding spirit to help as many people as possible
avoid the kind of BadVet who killed her. 

Suki's blog turns one today—the first of what I hope will be many years of helping people to become more informed veterinary consumers and most importantly, know what to do to keep their pets safe at the vet's and what to do to vets who don't.




I can't believe the thousands of page views the blog has generated in just a year. Of course we're nowhere near the numbers of our mother site, The Veterinary Abuse Network (VAN). Vetabusenetwork.com has been up in one form or another continuously since 2000 and has built an amazing following of bereaved and outraged pet owners and guardians eager for anything that would provide information about  BadVets and the systems that protect them. In 2012 alone VAN had 26,623 unique visitors; 40,761 visits; 106,216 pages viewed; and 369,613 hits. Add the previous eleven years and that's an awful lot of people searching for information and resources on everything from How to File a Complaint Against a Vet to watching out for "bargain basement" vets who practice substandard care in Beware of Dr. CheapVet, and of course the horror that started it all: my precious companion's fight for life in Suki's Story.

But Suki's Safe Haven is still a baby, and we're just getting started. I can tell you in our first year our most popular post has been Filing a Complaint With Your State Board: Why Do It. That tells me I need to do more posts that help people file complaints with their state boards. I know it's daunting to take on this huge, oppressive machine of vets (and their lawyers), state boards (and their lawyers), the state's Veterinary Medical Associations (and their lawyers), but the fact is that I always urge victims to file on their BadVets no matter how small the odds are that anything will be done. As a recent victim reminded me, it's about exposure—the bane of every lying, sneaky, manipulative, incompetent, negligent, malpracticing vet. Even one complaint can catch the worst of these creeps—and it just might be yours. Let's keep up the pressure on these boards to do their job and hold these BadVets accountable in ways serious enough to deter any other creep from doing the same thing. Period.

A post that surprised me with its popularity was the one on Gene Giggleman, DVM: “Think There Are No Cruel Vets?” Maybe that's because Giggleman was getting some pretty scary press elsewhere: Read about his other shenanigans in the excellent story by reporter Yamil Berard in the April 5, 2012 Fort Worth Star Telegram: “Grapevine veterinarian acknowledges issuing blank health forms for raided business.” 

And there's more...

Inhumane euthanasia? Coerced euthanasia? It happens—and more often than you'd like to think. Barbara Albright's Pocket's Story from New Hampshire illustrates the former, and there are a disturbing number of stories about the latter. Read Ken and Nonna Newman's horror story in  media coverage on their precious Trali. It happens.

Not surprisingly, our most popular page was The Lawsuit. If you haven't yet read how Edward J. Nichols of Crestway Animal Clinic came after me with three bottom-feeding lawyers in a bully SLAPP suit to try to take away my First Amendment rights with first a temporary injunction and then a permanent one (he failed at both), take a few minutes--you might enjoy the tail, um, tale of a cowardly  vet who waved the white flag the night before trial. I still smile every time I think of my attorney telling me when it was over: “Julie, you kicked his ass.” And now with Texas enacting anti-SLAPP legislation, it will be even harder for bully vets like Ed Nichols and Crestway Animal Clinic to use their wealth and the legal system to try to intimidate, threaten, or force a victim into silence. If you've been sued by a bully vet who doesn't want the public to know what he or she did to your pet and is willing to pay big bucks to tear your life apart, I want to know about it. The public has the right to know who and where these creeps are operating. 

The subject of “Vaccinations: What You Don't Know About Them Can Kill Your Pet” led to steady traffic for Texan Jena Gonzalez's fight to Educate Before You Vaccinate. Speaking of education, years after her death, Mattie's Story still touches many about what can happen when an arrogant vet ignores the principle of informed consent and decides to take matters into his own hands, in this case Dr. Bob Esplin of Sylvania Veterinary Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Read Esplin's in-your-face quote and wonder how many other pets suffered Mattie's fate?


And so many, many more stories. Check out the archives of 2012 to see what you missed, and share this blog with all the animal lovers in your life. They need to know what can happen to their pets at a vet's office--and what happens when the vet gets away with it with the help of their staff, techs, other vets, their insurance companies, their lawyers, and the state board systems that are supposed to be protecting our pets, not the vets. Some of them even hire webmasters (or as I call some of them--spam-masters) to try to "bury" the rankings of negative reviews and web sites, too stupid to know how much trouble that will get them in, but then stupidity is rampant among BadVets. How stupid? Too stupid to know how stupid they really are. Which works in your favor. Believe it. 

To everybody who writes about and fights against BadVets, I cannot thank you enough for your work, support and encouragement. It's a whole new world of communication out there and it is growing exponentially as a true network of veterinary victims evolves into the next generation--savvy, smart, kick-ass, informed consumers to hopefully take the place of the old, tired, ignorant guard who thinks all vets love animals and none of them makes any money. BadVets cannot do what they do without your blind trust. Stop handing it over because they have a white coat and a stethoscope and they're so "nice" and "cheap." Do your homework.   I believe most vets are good in the same way I believe most people are good--but it's not enough. This is a profession that has enjoyed secrecy and protection behind closed doors for too long, and it's time to drag some of these vampires out into the sunlight and watch them shrivel up. 

Although I write alone, Suki is still hard at work as my guiding spirit, and we will always be a team. Without her strength and her will to live even through the most hideous and prolonged mistreatment imaginable, there would be no vetabusenetwork.com, no Suki's Story, no Suki's Safe Haven, and no future foundation that I hope to establish to help veterinary victims in real, tangible ways.  It is my dream to bring together enough people to get laws changed, policies improved, and most of all, transparency in the systems that have enjoyed their little secret, closed-door dealings to protect the worst of these monsters. 

In the meantime, Suki and I will continue to work hard to do everything we can to help keep people's pets safe at the vet. We can't do it alone. Keep writing, keep fighting, keep connecting, posting, sharing, tweeting, blogging, and spreading the message—especially the message that we will continue to send to every incompetent, negligent, sloppy, careless, lazy, arrogant vet who ever harmed or killed someone's beloved companion:

We will never forget. We will never be silenced.

Don't miss any posts! Subscribe by email in the box at upper right, under Suki's picture. Your address will never be shared in any way. 
For information on filing a complaint with your state board, go to Filing a Complaint Against Your Vet or contact me here: Suki's Safe Haven

January 24, 2013

Is Your Veterinarian Trying to Game Google? Watch for These Red Flags (and What You Can Do About It)


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The Internet is a mixed blessing. Never in the history of veterinary malpractice have veterinary victims been able to find each other, compare notes, offer advice and support, research veterinary malpractice cases and board complaints, and help one another get through the horrific process of sorting through the wreckage of their lives after an incompetent, negligent veterinarian has injured or killed their companions.

The Internet is a double-edged sword for BadVets. It makes it more difficult for the worst of them to fly under the radar; many veterinary boards post their state's disciplinary actions online; and searching for a vet's name and/or the clinic's name can often lead to a client or potential client finding out things the vet would prefer that nobody know about.

It's the "searching" part that provides BadVets with a silver lining: There are ways to manipulate the public in cyberspace in much the same way they do in real life; specifically, perverting SEO (search engine optimization) techniques and misusing links and aggregate sites to artificially increase their page rankings on Google. In short, gaming Google.This makes it more difficult for the average person to find anything negative about BadVets, because the first few pages can be dominated by the vet's manufactured trash specifically and deliberately designed to "push down" the rankings of sites that have negative information about the vet.  

If you recognize your veterinarian in any of the following, take note. Depending on how brazen, arrogant, or stupid they are, BadVets may be leaving a trail of evidence that you can gather, document, and use in filing a board complaint for unprofessional conduct, honesty and fair dealing, or similar statutes; or possibly even a lawsuit for things like false advertising and fraud (e.g.,In Texas, the statute of limitations for fraud is four years, so it's important to keep good records if you think a vet is or has been trying to game search engine rankings). Remember these involve two entirely different jurisdictions: 1) Check your individual state's Veterinary Practice Act for specifics on categories like honesty, fair dealing, false advertising, unprofessional conduct, and the like; and 2) consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to discuss lawsuit options regarding fraud and false advertising. 

In the meantime, watch for any signs of the following: