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.