Update on the Fort Worth Veterinary Cruelty Case

There have been developments in the case I posted about yesterday regarding Lou Tierce, the Fort Worth vet who was charged with animal cruelty.  While all of the following will be difficult to read, some of it is truly nauseating and disturbing.  Use your discretion:

  • The Texas vet board has temporarily suspended Dr. Tierce’s license and will meet on Monday to discuss the case.
  • Unsanitary conditions were found at the clinic during the raid.  The description is akin to a hoarding type environment.  “Stacks of drugs, trash, laundry, paperwork and other miscellaneous items were strewn about the examinations rooms, hallways, stairwells, operating room, laboratories and offices of the clinic.”
  • Controlled substances were strewn throughout the facility, unsecured.
  • Bugs were crawling around the exam rooms.
  • Animal organs preserved in jars were stored throughout the facility.
  • The attorney for Sid’s family has released a detailed timeline of events regarding what allegedly happened to Sid from the time his owners started taking him to Dr. Tierce.  In that release, there are allegations that cast an even darker shadow over Dr. Tierce including that he tricked Sid’s owners into having the x-ray taken which was used to diagnose the non-existent “irreparable” spinal defect.  The anal gland problem for which Sid was originally brought to Dr. Tierce remains.
  • The whistleblowing technician is reported by the attorney to have said that Dr. Tierce used a blow to the head to anesthetize a dog who was waking up during surgery.
  • Dr. Tierce admitted to police that he had kept 5 dogs alive, including Sid, after accepting them for euthanasia by their owners.  It has not been reported whether some or all of the other 4 were mistreated in the way that Sid allegedly was.  One of the 4 had been kept in a cage at the clinic for 3 years since his owners left him in Dr. Tierce’s care for euthanasia.
  • During the raid, an outside vet, Dr. Michael Morris, was brought in to examine the pets found in the clinic.  He determined that 3 animals required euthanasia.
  • The arrest warrant for Dr. Tierce states he was charged with cruelty to animals over the neglect and abuse of his personal pet, a border collie whom he kept alive in a box on an exam room floor at the clinic for an extended period of time, possibly a year.  During the raid, the dog was found twitching in pain.  He had a missing leg, a dislocated leg and two dislocated shoulders.  Dr. Morris examined the dog and determined the dog was emaciated, unable to walk, suffering from severe disease in the mouth, had the bottom of one foot missing, had cataracts and a degenerative neurological disease which could not be treated.  The dog was medically hopeless and suffering and had been that way for some time.  Dr. Tierce admitted he never provided any medical treatment for the dog and that the dog had received nothing but food and water in his care.  Dr. Morris recommended euthanasia to end the dog’s suffering and advised police that the dog was a victim of animal cruelty.
  • Many clients are speaking out in support of Dr. Tierce, refusing to believe he could ever cause harm to any animal.
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37 Comments

  1. Katherine Goard

     /  May 2, 2014

    I HOPE THEY AL GO TO JAIL FOR A LONG LONG TIME AND THE ANIMALS PLACED IN OTHER RESCUES OR FOSTER HOMES OR ADOPTED OUT! THIS IS A SICK SICK PLACE! FOR ANYTHING BUT A ROACH!

    Reply
  2. paigeandspaniels

     /  May 2, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Hair of the Dog and commented:
    I’ve been following this case as well, and here’s an updated portion.

    The only thing I want to preface is about the ‘organs preserved in jars’. I see no issue with this as long as it is properly preserved. My vet has preserved dog hearts with heart worms in every exam room to show people. It’s not macabre or gross, it’s a teaching tool.

    Unfortunately this is only a small aspect in this otherwise disturbing case.

    Seeing all the people speaking out in favor of him makes me wonder if he isn’t suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    Reply
    • I agree that organs in jars would not necessarily be unusual in a typical veterinary clinic. But the complaint that prompted the raid alleged that Dr. Tierce was stealing pets from owners who requested euthanasia and harvesting their organs. That makes the organs in jars noteworthy in this case.

      Reply
      • paigeandspaniels

         /  May 2, 2014

        Ah, thank you for clarifying. I knew of the allegation of ‘stealing’ pets, but was under the impression at least in the case of Sid it was for blood donation. The other pets seized (as per the article I read) were animals owned by him.

    • From what I understand, only one of the animals seized (the border collie) was owned by the doctor. The others were pets brought in to be euthanized that were not. This article includes the paperwork for the removal of his license, and appears to have the most complete list of allegations. http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/No-charges-filed-yet-against-vet-accused-of-lying-about-euthanizing-dog-257411171.html

      Reply
  3. animalandpeoplelover

     /  May 2, 2014

    What age man is he? It sounds like he has some kind of mental illness (with physical cause?). Most vets love animals, and a veterinarian who starts treating animals this way undoubtedly is an aberration and should be hospitalized, diagnosed and treated. No, he doesn’t need to be a practicing solo veterinarian, but perhaps with his skills, he could work under the supervision of someone else in the animal practice field.

    Reply
    • I have read he is 71, practicing as a vet since 1966.

      Sorry, this man could have the ability to spay & neuter with a magic wand and I wouldn’t let him within 50 feet of my pets.

      I think we can all sympathize with an owner who knows his pet is medically hopeless and suffering but whose heartbreak causes his judgment to be temporarily skewed. The owner might delay the euthanasia for hours or days, clinging to false hope. But that is clearly not the case here. Dr. Tierce admitted to police he knew his dog should have been euthanized. And despite having pain medications at hand daily, he never helped to even reduce the pain his dog was suffering, let alone put him to sleep as he should have. Someone who doesn’t know it’s wrong to keep a starving dog in a box to suffer what must have been unspeakable agony for months is not someone who needs to be around animals ever again.

      Reply
  4. I don’t understand how people sitting out in the waiting room or in the exam rooms couldn’t smell it. What is wrong with that vet that he would allow any dog, let alone his own, to suffer the way he did is beyond cruel.

    Reply
  5. mikken

     /  May 2, 2014

    I wonder if charges will be filed against the other employees? This thing is an absolute nightmare of a horror show and there is no excuse for permitting it to exist for a single moment…yet people were collecting paychecks there.

    It is hideous. How anyone can defend the man is beyond me.

    Reply
    • I have tried to put myself in the position of an employee there to try to understand how this could have gone on for so long. I am guessing he may have had a lot of staff turnover, not uncommon in vet clinics, and possibly attracted mostly young people who were able to accept a very low wage, also not uncommon. In thinking about a young person, perhaps with no prior vet experience, who takes a job there and sees what’s going on, a couple things strike me:

      The employee might think all vet clinics are run this way and even if they feel something is wrong, might lack the wherewithal to stand up and speak out.

      The employee might believe that what’s happening is wrong but finds it hard to reconcile with the vet’s stellar reputation among clients and in the community and as such, might question his own judgement or his ability to act.

      Some employees may have quit the place very soon after realizing what was going on there and they never went to the police about it for whatever reasons.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  May 2, 2014

        One of the commenters said that her son worked for him for one day, then left because of what was going on, there. And that was years ago.

        My question is then, why not report the man? But you’re right, if EVERYONE raves about what a great guy he is, it could be VERY hard to say, “Um, no, he’s not.” because they’ll all turn on you and call you a liar.

        But I find it hard to believe that no one thought to take cell phone video and send it to the police or the news or just put it up on youtube. Young people are recording themselves eating sandwiches these days, you know?

        I wonder if the techs will get immunity for their testimony? I wonder if they should?

      • The first clinic I worked for was as an unpaid intern. That should have been an alarm bell right there…I was the only one in my graduating class who wasn’t paid through their internship.

        They were doing just about everything wrong at this place, but they always had an excuse for it. Patients were not given pain control after surgery. I remember one dog waking up after having ACL repair on both hind legs just SCREAMING bloody murder. When I confronted the vet, I was told giving the dog pain medication would encourage him to move around too much and possibly undo the surgical repair. They routinely undersedated pets during surgery, so that many animals were half-awake and vocalizing. I was told they weren’t ‘really’ feeling pain and that keeping them on gas during the surgery was more dangerous. Vet techs routinely performed surgery (which is illegal). I was told they were more skilled than the doctor, so it was for the patient’s benefit. The clinic happily euthanized any patient on request, even if there was no valid medical reason to do so, and encouraged new employees to practice needle sticks on those patients, since they were going to be dead soon anyway.

        I will tell you that as a generally non-confrontational person, I didn’t know WHAT to do. For one, if I hadn’t been in school to be a vet tech, their explanations might have sounded very reasonable and valid. The only reason I was positive things were being done incorrectly was because I had the training. I went to my teacher first, and was told the doctor was known to be old-fashioned and not to cause waves. Then I went to the director of the program and was told the same thing. At the end of my internship, I was offered a job at the clinic and turned it down. I turned in a report to the state board, but due to lack of evidence (this was before cell phones and cell phone video was common) nothing was ever done. I basically did everything I could think to do, and as far as I know that vet is still practicing. Maybe I could have tried starting a protest, but I’m positive his clients would have defended him as a good, old-fashioned doc.

        I’m not defending the techs or employees. I don’t know the exact situation or how things were presented to them. I can just understand how explanations can make it heard for inexperienced people to see even blatant things if they don’t know what to look for. They might have been told that the vet’s dog was a beloved family pet who still enjoyed life and was receiving medical care…I don’t know.

  6. Sooooo disturbing. Must be severe mental problems with this man – his own poor dog. . . and all the others he “treated”. He deserves not one ounce of sympathy . . .

    Reply
  7. What does it take to make humans accept proof of animal abuse by a vet, yet ignore cruelty at food factories? This world is totally messed up!

    Reply
  8. tamara meier

     /  May 2, 2014

    What I cannot fathom is how ANY employee could have gone silent for so long, let alone ALL of them? Clearly Tierce has some kind of issues, but how can conditions persist for such a period of time without SOMEone saying something? That “I was worried about losing my paycheck” excuse I don’t buy – what about a new employee, just starting? Who could walk into such conditions, and stay? Was he paying his techs & staff THAT much? His cruelty, dishonesty, and lack of compassion is difficult enough to understand, but for his entire staff to remain collectively silent as well?

    Reply
  9. Maybe all these naysayers need photographs for proof. This vet is despicable! He should have his license revoked, permanently, and should be charged, accordingly. What about the other employees who worked with this vet? Maybe they need to explain as to why they did not say anything, even anonymously, about the conditions and abuse at that place.

    Reply
  10. Wasn’t it Mendel who experimented on prisoners in the concentration camps during WWII? He would do atrocious things to them, human beings. This vet is very close to Mendel…with the same mentality. He should never be allowed to work with or be near any animal, ever again, not even his own. I don’t care what his age is..reportedly 71. I don’t care if he has Alzheimer’s or dementia. He is unfit to practice medicine on any living creature. Yank his license.

    Reply
    • I think you are referring to Josef Mengele. Gregor Mendel was a scientist who lived prior to WWII and was famous for his work on genetics.

      Reply
      • Yup. You are right. I asked my husband if it was Mendel. He said it was. That was a long time ago for us. Thank you for the correction.

      • Hey, if the Nazis hadn’t been defeated we might have all been taught MENGELIAN genetics in school instead of Mendelian genetics. A horrifying thought.

  11. mikken

     /  May 2, 2014

    Yes, and everyone talks about what a great arthropod he is, while his own dog has three dislocated legs…which really makes me wonder if he was experimenting on her…

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  May 2, 2014

      *Orthopod, not arthropod. Stupid spell check.

      Reply
      • Come on, arthropod was awesome. I really needed that. *tousles spellcheck’s hair*

      • Tina Clark

         /  May 2, 2014

        You guys are making me laugh in the midst of all this stomach-churning horror. Yes, much needed. Thanks.

  12. Tina Clark

     /  May 2, 2014

    Well, I do get why people are vehemently defending him. Just think of PETA. Total cognitive dissonance.

    Reply
  13. Susan Vaitekunas

     /  May 2, 2014

    I think before anyone condemns the vet he should be assessed by a psychiatrist or neurologist to rule out the possibility of frontotemporal dementia.

    Reply
    • sarahjaneb

       /  May 3, 2014

      Does that type of dementia cause someone to be consistently lucid enough to present a reasonable and respectable facade in front of clients, and yet somehow when in the back of the clinic never have a single moment of clarity that would allow them to realize that keeping a dog in a cage soaking in his own filth 24/7 is wrong? I’m not in the medical field, so I don’t know.

      Reply
      • Susan Vaitekunas

         /  May 3, 2014

        The short answer is yes it could just do that. It certainly is a remote possibility especially if the asserted facts of hoarding and filth are true. I believe you live in a country where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Where I live(Canada) a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia would render one legally incompetent and therefore innocent of a crime committed. By the way I am a geriatrician who works in a memory clinic.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • sarahjaneb

         /  May 3, 2014

        Do you have any references for that? That type of selective dementia sounds very interesting.

        Yes, legally speaking people are considered innocent until proven guilty. But this is not a court of law, none of us here is on his jury, and talking about what he did does not constitute conviction or incarceration. And I certainly don’t think that every single person on his staff who witnessed this and let it go on will have a dementia excuse.

      • Susan Vaitekunas

         /  May 4, 2014

        If you go to the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society site they have a good article describing Frontotemporal Dementia. Also sometimes called Pick’s disease, frontotemporal dementia comes in three forms which reflect the areas of the brain first affected. Primary Progressive Aphasia causes it’s victims to lose the ability to express themselves verbally ,in the Semantic Dementia form people lose their understanding of the meaning of words and in the Frontal Dementia form our frontal lobes or our “Executive Center” becomes impaired. Examples:a respected chemistry professor begins starting fires in his lab, a successful real estate agent starts becoming physically aggressive towards his clients, a previously loving father tells his somewhat insecure teenage daughter her new glasses made her look like a nerd. I had one patient who presented with a fixed delusion that her new dental implants were affecting her hearing. She tested totally normally on detailed testing for three years and ran the family store successfully until she started exhibiting bizarre behaviour like hoarding her dogs poop in the garage. There is a neurologist n LA who does research on frontotemporal dementia who told me he gets half of his referrals from the LAPD.
        If the vet in this case has exhibited a change in the way he practices in the past ten years this diagnosis definitely needs consideration. It just astounds me that he could have practiced to such low standards and not had a large number of complaints lodged with the Veterinary Board. Also,how could he stay in business? I certainly would walk right out of an office if it wasn’t hygienic.
        Lastly another thing that bothers me is the family who left their dog with him. You take your dog to the vet for an anal gland problem and you’re told he has a congenital defect and needs to be put to sleep? You don’t seek a second opinion. You don’t stay with your dog while it’s being euthanized?

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • Innocent until proven guilty is a legal matter. It only refers to how our justice system works, not public opinion. We are free to have an opinion about a case and judge the one responsible all we like. And in this particular case, the vet admitted to knowing his own dog should have been euthanized, so he did know he was doing the wrong thing by that animal.

  14. vida

     /  May 2, 2014

    I am sickened by this, and I also question why no other employees spoke up. I do know it’s very hard to buck the majority opinion and they may have wondered if they would be black balled if they complained? I am reaching I know but it’s awfully hard to understand how this could have been allowed to continue.
    On the other hand I am aware of a vet who has had numerous complaints filed, has lost their license in one state and is still in business. It doesn’t seem to matter what he does, he’s untouchable. Thank heavens this vet wasn’t and hopefully will be brought to justice.

    Reply
  15. spaycritter

     /  May 3, 2014

    I’ve worked in private practices, emergency offices and spay/neuter clinics. I’ve worked with a lot of different vets. Lots of different schools of thought. Old school and new. Some I like better than others. Even as a newbie , I’ve always been inquisitive. Asked a multitude of questions. As I became more informed , I became more direct with any questions I had.
    Even as a newbie , there were certain basics.. “Keep them clean , warm ,well fed, and dry.”
    It appears, even those basics were not afforded the animals in this facility.
    I can see how a new employee with NO experience may feel helpless. Especially if the longer term employees had come to accept ( shudder) the way things were. The pack/ gang / lynch mob mentality must have taken over. Same as it does in a shelter setting.. ” It’s the way we do things.” .But to continue to stay? How? How could you?

    Reply
  16. People who work in vet’s offices, or even shelters, who know perfectly well that something is not right, and just sit back and do nothing, are just enabling those who do the wrong. If they can do this to animals, who are helpless to do anything to change how they are treated, even if it is to escape, what can these people do to the two-legged helpless, like children, seniors, and the disabled? May this “veterinarian” never be able to treat or own another living creature, ever again.

    Reply
  17. Alice wessel

     /  May 3, 2014

    They all should be arrested..I called there and they are STILL OPEN…why?
    This guy is a nut case..I’ve seen all kinds of posts here justifying why staff did nothing..karma to all of them..I hope the clinic is flooded with calls..disgusting bunch..and exactly why did people leave their animals instead of staying with them..I could never imagine leaving an animal to be euthanized..is that what they do in texas?

    Reply
    • sarahjaneb

       /  May 5, 2014

      I live in Austin rather than DFW, but no, that is not “what they do in Texas.” In Texas, just like other states, one generally has the choice of whether or not to stay with their animal. Some people simply cannot handle it emotionally, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this vet had been actively encouraging people to leave their animals. Can everybody please stop with the victim blaming? The owners choosing not to get second opinions or choosing not to stay with their pets for euthanasia did not force this man commit these actions. They were HIS choice.

      Reply

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