|Suki the Siamese, happily at work in happier times.|
Nineteen Years: The Voice May Be Stilled, but It's Still a Voice
Veterinary licensing and regulatory board systems may not be much, but for most vet victims it's all we've got. On this 19th anniversary of Suki's passing (April 26, 1999), it's more important than ever to speak up and speak out to the government entities who are charged with protecting the public but may in fact be more concerned with protecting those who harmed and killed our pets. Below are my citizen comments for the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) submitted in January of this year with the hope that these words and the words of so many others devastated by the loss of their family members at the hands of incompetent, negligent and abusive veterinarians will someday, some how, some way, be heard by somebody at the state level who is truly interested in making a difference.--JC
January 16, 2018
To the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners:
When my cat Suki was killed by a Texas veterinarian in April 1999 I was plunged into a nightmare that not even the most imaginative horror writer could have conjured. Apart from having to live with the knowledge that a vet misused his education and skills to actually harm rather than help a family pet--which was horrifying enough--I also had to deal with a board system that ensured that there would never be Justice for Suki.
I refused to accept that fate, and instead chose to go public with Suki's Story that told chapter and verse, with supporting documentation from his own records, how Edward J. Nichols of Crestway Animal Clinic had mistreated my innocent cat so badly and for so long that to this day, not one veterinarian on this planet has ever been able to explain why this vet did what he did. Not even the vet himself. Instead he resorted to revisionist history, blame shifting, personal and professional defamation, threats and lies--all tactics that he has used for almost two decades, including filing an abusive SLAPP suit in 2005 in a years-long failed attempt to enforce prior restraint through a permanent (unconstitutional) injunction which was denied by the courts and affirmed at the appellate level.
Try as he might and despite his millions, Suki's killer cannot suppress the truth.
But it wasn't surprising that he thought he could. After all, he had had help from a system that deliberately looked the other way. Like so many BadVets before and since, he walked scot-free from all accountability despite a mountain of verifiable evidence ranging from repeated breaches of the Professional Standard of Humane Treatment to insanely egregious record keeping violations. According to the then-reviewing Board Secretary (and now thankfully license-free vet due to his own problems with controlled substance record keeping), Suki was "an old cat."
Later, when I asked the Board attorney at what age is an animal patient no longer entitled to the Professional Standard of Humane Treatment--I really needed to know so that I could pass on that information to others who also needed to know--he was silent. He remained silent during all the subsequent times I asked him that question.
Maybe you, as a Board, can choose to be silent when tough questions asked of you are too uncomfortable or unanswerable, but we, as victims, cannot. The Texas veterinary board system failed Suki and me, and if the last almost 19 years are any indication, it continues to fail many people who had no idea that incompetent, negligent, and abusive vets can and do get away with inflicting pain, loss, grief and yes, horror, first on our pets and then on us, using a board system that has repeatedly proven its allegiance to its own industry instead of the public they are charged with protecting.
When vet victims experience the double whammy of 1) losing a pet to veterinary malfeasance and then 2) watching a state agency use their power to protect a veterinarian rather than the public, there's not much to reassure veterinary victims.
Except this. These are hopeful times. Real life horror stories of abuse of power that were once untold, unacknowledged, and carefully protected from public view are being exposed. You may have the power, but we have the truth. We will speak that truth to power forever and we will do it in the disinfectant of daylight, so that the veterinary consumers of Texas can decide for themselves which side is more interested in protecting their animal companions.
Thank you for your time.