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.

April 26, 2014

April 26, 2014: the 15th Anniversary of Suki's Death

"Suki's Sunflower," pastel.
Copyright 2011, Julie Catalano

Fifteen years. Fifteen years since my Suki was taken from me by a so-called doctor who had no right, reason, or permission to do what he did. 

Of the hundreds of fellow victims I have communicated with over 15 years, we all agree, almost to a person: My life will never be the same

But we keep fighting. 

We fight through the maze of state veterinary boards who frequently look the other way, letting a vet walk scot-free or administering not much more than a slap on the wrist, if that.

We witness endless frustrations with a legal system that gives little or no protection to our beloved family members who turn into worthless property once a vet has harmed or killed them. 

We shake our heads as we have to listen to the endless, disgusting filth spread by smug BadVets and their sadistic groupies who delight in taunting us, "Everything dies, get over it, get help" no matter how much documented evidence exists to prove negligence or malpractice. Sadists don't care. Their job is to inflict the maximum amount of pain, not to be bothered with facts. 

We slog through the death threats and hate mail (and after 15 years I must hold the record lol), along with sanctimonious preaching by a vet's friends, family, and fans who 1)  have no earthly idea what really happened, or 2) worse, know what happened but couldn't care less, because their friend comes before any laws, statutes, humanity, or decency. And BadVets love it, because they already know what they did; the fun part is watching the clueless fans buy into the lie. As one of the investigators in Austin told me: "For some of these people, it's a game." Believe me, I know exactly what he meant. 

But after 15 years I think I can say that things are slowly...slowly...getting better. Little by little, as victims find each other, tell our stories, file board complaints, and use our web sites, blogs, and social media to get the word out, there will be fewer places for the worst of the profession to hide. Increased media coverage on BadVets has accomplished two wonderful things: Documented cases of allegations, charges and/or convictions; and putting the vets' names and their own words, in writing, for public scrutiny, forever. Vet boards know they are being watched too. Some are handling it better than others. 

So we keep fighting. For better laws, better procedures and policies at the state board level, and better protection for companion animals who never deserved what was done to them. We don't this for our pets. For most of us, our pets are dead. We do this, as I frequently say, for the people who have not yet met the vet who's going to change their lives forever. May you never meet that vet. 

Thank you for your unflagging support, friendship, love, encouragement, and most of all for your own advocacy. We will make a difference. We are making a difference. 

-- Julie Catalano, Founder, The Veterinary Abuse Network and Suki's Safe Haven

Founded in memory of Suki the cat, victim of Edward J. Nichols, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, Texas 


"Fifteen Years," The Veterinary Abuse Network,, April 26, 2014

March 30, 2014

Reporting a Vet and Filing a Board Complaint Against a Veterinarian: Why Do It?

It's easier than ever to report a vet -
many veterinary board sites have
forms to download and file electronically, or
mail the old-fashioned way.
UPDATE: Keep reading for news about disciplinary action taken against Martin E. Garcia, DVM, the unconscionable Texas board vet who looked the other way in Suki's case and let Ed Nichols of Crestway Animal Clinic walk even with proof of numerous incidents of negligence and incompetence. In 2011, the Texas board got Martin E. Garcia himself for "multiple years" of violations in controlled substance recordkeeping, including ordering 12 vials of Ketaset without establishing a veterinarian/client/patient relationship! 

People often ask me, “Why should I file a complaint against a veterinarian? Nothing will be done anyway. Look what happened to you and Suki.”

I can't argue. When I filed a detailed, fact-filled and documented complaint against Crestway Animal Clinic and Edward J. Nichols DVM, despite every piece of evidence of repeated and prolonged mistreatment – the jerk walked away scot-free. (You can read the timeline here at Crestway Animal Clinic – Who Did This to Suki and click on details and documentation from there.) Nichols was exonerated by one single board vet at a low level, off the record "meeting" - not an actual state board hearing. Your state may have an equally shoddy system. Here, nobody could explain the insane "exoneration" of a vet who had committed repeated and provable violations of the standard of care as later stated by expert vet opinions including a board certified anesthesiologist from Texas A&M.

So why should you file a complaint against a vet? It's true that the veterinary board systems are deeply and dangerously flawed. They routinely dismiss most complaints, some without even bothering to investigate anything. And even if you're lucky enough to get the vet held accountable, the disciplinary action is often puny and insulting: a small fine, some continuing education hours, possibly a suspension which will most likely be “stayed” (meaning it's on paper only – the vet can continue practicing during the suspension). If the vet is found to be practicing under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is otherwise impaired by substance abuse, he or she is shuffled into a “peer assistance program” where “counseling” is provided by – wait for it – other vets.

Then there's the fear – of taking on rich, powerful, connected “professionals” who can and will use every available resource to try to crush, break, bankrupt, or destroy you; of the toll it will take on your life, work, finances, health, and sense of security; of what others will say when they find out you're going to all this trouble over “just an animal.” And the worst of all: having to relive the horror of a beloved pet's death as you attempt to get it all down on paper, knowing exactly what happened. And knowing without a doubt that the vet does too – and will lie and lie and lie. 

So why do it? Why bother? Here are my top five reasons why reporting a veterinarian is the best thing you can do – for yourself, your precious companion, your own peace of mind, and for all the lucky people and animals you might be saving from a vet from hell.