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.

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.

From a timeline provided to me by Jurmark, Sara Shirley Koshi DVM, a 1980 graduate of the Bombay Veterinary College (aka Shirley Sara Koshi, license #006490 in NY and with apparent expired and/or concurrently active licenses over a number of years in India, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts) took possession of Karl the Cat sometime between August 6 and August 10, 2013, after the cat had been taken in for treatment on August 6. Koshi is currently the owner of Gentle Hands Veterinarian in NYC. We are still in the process of researching where and with whom Koshi has practiced prior to setting up what seems to be her first solo vet clinic venture on Johnson Avenue in the Bronx on July 5, 2013. A previous location on E. 76th Street was closed. Her LinkedIn profile lists her prior positions as owner and president of Vet on Wheels NYC, a relief and mobile vet. In her LI profile she states that she has worked "in probably 30 different hospitals." 

From what I can gather and based on email and Facebook posts by Koshi, she is shifting blame to the two women who brought Karl in on August 6 for examination as a favor to Jurmark, claiming that these two women basically surrendered Karl—who was not their cat either—to Koshi. Where is the paperwork on this? Didn't they have to sign anything to officially surrender this cat? What proof does Koshi have that either of these women handed Karl over to be taken in by Koshi? One of the women supposedly paid for a portion of Karl's treatment, but she was no more Karl's owner than Koshi is..

According to Jurmark, Koshi was later notified by the husband of one of the women who finally had to admit to Koshi that they were not the owners, and to change the name on the records to the real owner – Gwen Jurmark. So it appears that at one point at least one of these women and her husband attempted to do the right thing and instructed Koshi to put Jurmark's name on Karl's records as the rightful owner.

Instead, Koshi changed the name on Karl's medical records to....her own.

And just like that, Karl the Cat, beloved cat of Gwen Jurmark, became His Majesty Billy Wahlenberg Koshi, the “newest member of the family,” according to Koshi's Gentle Hands Veterinary Facebook page. (Note: that copy has since vanished, along with Karl as Koshi's profile picture, along with a reference to booking clinic tours to see where “little Billy goes to” in the back and changing it to see where “little Julia the cat” goes to in the back. Is Koshi trying to cover her tracks now that she's been served with a lawsuit?) The second woman also called Koshi about giving Karl back and Koshi reportedly screamed and hung up on her. 

When Jurmark first called Koshi on August 16—which coincided with the end of Karl's prescribed hospitalization--the vet refused to speak to her. A series of attempts to communicate with Koshi failed as she was either reported as unavailable or out of the office.  Koshi has apparently since changed her story to Karl being “abandoned”--meaning that an owner left an animal at the vet's and never showed any interest in reclaiming him--but that won't work either. Jurmark began trying to get Karl back well within the time frame allowed by law and never at any time abandoned Karl--as far as she knew, Karl was being treated at the vet's for a specific length of time determined by Koshi, at which time Jurmark would go to get her cat. Further, there are strict procedures that vets have to follow if they are going to use the “abandoned” excuse to justify confiscating a pet that isn't theirs, and Koshi did none of those things. Jurmark filed a New York veterinary board complaint on Koshi that is currently under review.

This is a really strange case, made stranger by the way Koshi herself is handling it, and let me just pause right here to say how thankful I am she is not my vet. Because what she appears to be doing is—how can I say this politely—just plain wacky. I've heard of some really BadVets (and unfortunately know one outright monster), but to withhold a pet from an owner based on...what? Her bunch of unfounded allegations about the true owner and a weird statement that she “loves” him?—as she told Jurmark on one occasion when Jurmark was trying to get Karl back. So now vets can keep your pet on a whim because they “love” him or her? Heaven help us. We should be thankful that Koshi did not decide to become a pediatrician, or even a Mercedes mechanic. Bye bye baby--and your Baby Benz. 

This may come as a huge surprise to Koshi, but she does not get to make up the rules as she goes along, despite her often laughable and inexplicable irritation—based on her condescending Facebook posts--with everything from cell phones, the way people park their bikes, her constant demand for “respect” when she herself appears to be immune from such niceties, and her never-ending and ubiquitous opinions on religion, politics, trees, current events, the environment, everyone else's real or imagined shortcomings, and every other subject under the sun that she apparently feels is in need of her “expertise.” (She mentions in one Internet post about wanting to be interviewed by Alec Baldwin because she has a lot of opinions—maybe he can find out where Karl is.) Not to mention her strange and ever-changing hours, a bizarre pricing structure (“Walking in with a pet and asking for an exam costs the same as making an appointment, if it is your first time or we arent busy doing other work. If you have walked in once, then there will be a $30/ surcharge for instant service.”--Source: http://gentlehandsvet.com/). What does that even mean? 

With Koshi's seemingly constant Facebooking, her own web site statement that she has no full-time staff and has a contract vet tech only one day a week, describing a former employee by name and deeming her “unsuitable” to work at her clinic (talk about defamation), outlining detailed rules as to who is and is not suitable for the work (“if you sing well or hum spontaneously, it is a plus”--Source: http://gentlehandsvet.com/), which in her case seems to include monitoring, policing, and judging the activities of everybody who isn't her, when does this woman have time to practice veterinary medicine?

In the midst of all this madness, Jurmark has been trying to get Karl back by all reasonable means possible, thwarted at every turn by some new, off-the-charts stunt by Koshi—screaming, stalling, avoidance, installing locks and a doorbell on her clinic door and security cameras in the clinic (supposedly claiming harassment, of course--that tired old chestnut dragged out by vets since the days they treated woolly mammoths), calling the 50th Precinct Police in the Bronx who, when they arrived, were told that Koshi was busy in surgery when she was the one who had used 911 to make an emergency call—aren't there laws against that? 

On that day, when Gwen Jurmark attempted to pay for and retrieve Karl yet again, an eyewitness reported that when Jurmark began to tell the officers what Koshi had done, Koshi started screaming and claiming “harassment,” yelling to the cops to get these women out of her clinic, at which point the officers took Jurmark and a friend outside so they could talk. Koshi had made the 911 call.  Why all the screaming? Why not give her side of the story reasonably? And why, when Jurmark began to tell the cops what was going on, did Koshi start screaming to intercept Jurmark's account. Maybe she didn't want her newly installed security cameras to record what Jurmark was telling the officers.

Jurmark—who has a lot more patience than I ever would have--wrote a polite email to Koshi, trying yet again to bring Karl home. Koshi responded with a nasty, threatening email filled with the sanctimonious, self-righteous, superior and pompous hot air that BadVets always have—especially when they know they've done something wrong and are trying to deflect blame on everybody except where it belongs: squarely on them.

I think the following sums up Koshi better than anything: After taunting Jurmark on her Facebook page and taping a note to her locked clinic door, Koshi relayed something to the effect that if you can't be respectful in your speech, then write. Okay. So Jurmark wrote and sent the letter certified mail, return receipt requested.

Koshi refused to accept the letter, sending it back with the postal carrier, unopened.

That did it. Jurmark was tired of being nice, trying to jump through Koshi's self-manufactured hoops for this vet's own personal enjoyment with absolutely no documentation or proof of anything she was saying and still keeping Karl (remember him?) as her own. After obtaining a signed and notarized letter from Karl's former vet, along with his medical records, that Karl was indeed Gwen Jurmark's cat, Karl's rightful owner filed a lawsuit on October 21, 2013 in the Civil Court of the City of New York against Shirley Koshi and Gentle Hands Veterinarian at Riverdale, Case Number CV-015676-13BX.

As it stands, Koshi has about two weeks to respond to the lawsuit.

This story has deeply touched, angered, bewildered, confused, and outraged me. It's made me laugh, cry, curse, shake my head in disbelief and wonder how in hell a veterinarian could get away with this. For that reason, I intend to cover this story forever—until Karl the Cat is safely returned to his owner/guardian Gwen Jurmark or, if the worst should happen and Karl should suddenly “vanish,” I will make sure that he is never forgotten and it is never forgotten who did this to him. I hope other journalists, citizen advocates, bloggers, outraged pet owners/guardians, rescuers, colony guardians and yes, even good and ethical New York City veterinarians who know the laws of their own profession, will join me.

Stay tuned.

The takeaway for owners/guardians: If you must trust a friend to take your pet to a vet, make sure you know who you're dealing with. We often trust the wrong people—not just vets—to do the right thing, when they may have another agenda. And if you are the person taking a friend's pet to the vet for any reason, inform the vet that you are there on behalf of the owner, with either copies of adoption papers and previous vet records, or a signed letter from the owner taking responsibility. The good news is that most vets would not be behaving the way this Shirley Sara/Sara Shirley Koshi (her family spells it Koshy) would, but all it takes is one BadVet apple like Koshi to make your life a living hell. One last thing: Vets who scream, threaten, call the police/sheriff on trumped up charges, or engage in any form of bullying or intimidation including threatening defamation lawsuits—these people are very bad news and have likely left a trail you probably know nothing about, especially if they have a history of moving around a lot. If you witness or experience a vet like that, get your pet safely out, spread the word online and off, and file a formal complaint with your state board for unprofessional conduct to warn others. Record the incident if it is allowed in your state—that's why God made smart phones.

The takeaway for vets: Don't take stuff that doesn't belong to you. That includes people's pets, especially under some unsubstantiated claims of “surrendering” or “abandonment” or health code violations or potentially defamatory statements and threat after threat, unless you can prove them—and proof means documentation, not hurling threats at people based on hearsay. And knock off all the cutesy-poo, woo woo talk that sounds good on the surface but can often hide a very disturbing side that many people might not know about (but which some do, and which might come out in a very public trial). Stop referring to defamation as a crime—it isn't; it's a civil issue, not criminal. So stop calling other people ignorant and stupid when your own slip is showing. Try brushing up on the laws and statutes of your state Veterinary Practice Act if you're not familiar with professional standards of conduct, honesty, and fair dealing. Bottom line: Do the right thing. Simple solution and no bad karma. Oh, and stop screaming.

If anyone has any pertinent information on vet Shirley Sara/Sara Shirley Koshi of Gentle Hands Veterinaran in the Bronx, NYC, please contact me at sukisafehaven@gmail.com. That includes Dr. Koshi herself if she wishes to. Any bullying, intimidation, or threats of any kind by anyone will be turned over to my attorneys. They're used to it and know exactly what to do; if you don't believe me, ask the vet who tried to take me down and failed miserably. Thank you--JC.  

Update, December 2013:  This case is still open. See the puff piece on Gentle Hands and Koshi on 

Related:

Veterinary Abuse Network, Help! My Vet Sued Me! - Resource for citizens dealing with bully vets

Veterinary Abuse Network, First Amendment Page – Know Your Rights
www.vetabusenetwork.com/TheFirstAmendment.htm

Shirley Koshi, DVM, Gentle Hands Veterinarian web site

Gentle Hands Veterinarian Facebook, Shirley Sara Koshi, DVM
https://www.facebook.com/GentleHandsVeterinarianHousecalls

January, 2014: An inexplicable puff piece done by Cia McAlarney on the Riverdale Hamlet Hub:
http://news.hamlethub.com/riverdale/life/353-dr-koshi-brings-gentle-hands-johnson-ave