In New Mexico, the city of Taos as well as the county of Taos pay a group called Stray Hearts more than $230,000 a year to perform animal control duties. Stray Hearts hired veterinarian Eugene Aversa to work at the facility in November 2013, providing medical care to the animals. He resigned last month, after a complaint made by shelter volunteers and staff led to a hearing before the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine, the findings of which were damning:
Eugene Aversa was found to have violated state codes in his treatment of or failure to treat 18 animals.
In its order, the seven-member board suggested Aversa was not qualified to work as a veterinarian at Stray Hearts. The order said Aversa “did not exercise the same degree of care, skill and diligence that reasonably prudent New Mexico veterinarians would have employed” in several cases. The doctor’s care for some animals was found to have constituted “gross negligence,” including in the case of a dog with a fractured paw which eventually fell off, a dog with cancer and a cat with a fractured paw as well as exposed bone.
Details of individual animals forced to suffer under Aversa’s “care” are disturbing to read.
A cat named Taffy was being given fluids by Aversa when the needle slipped out from under Taffy’s skin and the fluids spray Aversa in the face. The state report indicates Aversa threw Taffy to the floor in response. A worker found Taffy dead in her cage the next day, “with blood everywhere.”
A dog named Petey came to the pound in March 2014 with a fractured paw and Aversa left him to suffer until late July when he finally performed surgery on the dog. The state report says Aversa subsequently refused to change Petey’s bandages regularly and his paw eventually “fell off.”
Felicia Valencia, who assisted Aversa during procedures, says it took 90 minutes for a kitten to die after being “euthanized” by Aversa, and that the kitten’s suffering was only ended when Aversa finally jabbed a needle in the pet’s heart.
Ms. Valencia says when she spoke up about the abuse she witnessed, the shelter administration fired her. Several Stray Hearts board members have resigned this year and the director recently quit. Aversa’s malpractice and the shelter administration’s failure to take action to stop it has obviously taken a toll. Still, the administrators appear to be trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug:
Asked whether Aversa had been qualified to work at the shelter, the nonprofit’s chair said Tuesday she was “not qualified to comment on the veterinarian’s qualifications.”
Yeah, that’s not the only thing the administrators for Stray Hearts aren’t qualified to comment on.
The state veterinary board suspended Aversa’s license for 30 days and ordered him to shadow a shelter vet for 64 hours without pay. Once the required hours have been put in, Aversa will again be allowed to practice, and will be on a probationary status with the board. Which will surely bring comfort to any animals he hurls to the floor or leaves to suffer in pain until their fucking feet fall off.
If you live in Taos County, contact county manager Stephen Archuleta and tell him you don’t want one more penny of your tax money paid to Stray Hearts unless the entire board steps down. Let the vols and staffers who filed the complaint run the place while things get sorted out. Or find another group to contract for animal control. Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable. If Stray Hearts won’t do right by the lost and homeless animals in Taos Co, it’s up to the public to demand immediate changes be made. At minimum, the shelter animals in Taos Co deserve a vet who won’t hurt them but will instead do his job to help them and shelter administrators who recognize that hurting pets is intolerable and will take action to protect the animals, not the abuser.
(Thanks Clarice for the links.)