Rarely has a post generated as many defenders of the target of my critique as the recent Ethics Alarms commentary regarding the Fort Worth, Texas arrest of Dr. Lou Tierce, an aging veterinarian who, according to Jamie and Marian Harris, agreed to euthanize their dog Sid—that’s Sid above— based on Tierce’s diagnosis, but instead kept the dog caged in filthy and inhumane conditions for six months, until a whistleblower on his staff alerted the Harrises.
Here is a portion of the arrest report, regarding another dog at the same clinic:
“The dog was lying on the floor twitching in pain with one leg missing, one leg dislocated and two dislocated shoulders. I then spoke to the suspect, Dr. Millard Lucien Tierce. He told me that the injured black and white collie was his dog. He said he had given water and food to the dog but had not given any medical treatment to the dog. He said he had not euthanized the dog even though in his professional opinion he knew it needed to be.
Dr. Morris, DVM, of the Fort Worth Animal Clinic, arrived on the scene and performed an evaluation of the dog. He informed me that in his professional opinion the animal was a victim of animal cruelty and the conditions of the clinic were deplorable.
Animal Cruelty Investigator R. Jacobs spoke to Dr. Millard Tierce. Tierce told him he knew the dog needed to be euthanized but he did not allow it. He signed over ownership of his dog to the Fort Worth Animal Control and the Fort Worth Animal Control took the dog to their facility.
On April 29, 2014, Dr. M.L. Morris, DVM examined the black and white border collie. Dr. Morris concluded that the dog was emaciated, had severe mouth disease, cataracts, abnormal overall health, non-ambulatory bottom of foot missing, had a degenerative neurological and untreatable disease and should have been euthanized when originally accepted for treatment. The dog was then euthanized by the city of Fort Animal Shelter.
Due to the aforementioned facts and information being related to me as a result of this investigation, I have reason to believe and do believe that Millard Lucien Tierce, did commit the offense of Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals, against the laws of the State of Texas as set forth in the Penal Code; 42.092 (b)(l).”
Nonetheless, several loyal clients of Tierce’s clinic wrote to protest. They had entrusted their pets to him for many years, and he was clearly incapable of any kind of cruelty to Sid or any animal. The real villains were the Harrises. Or the tech who alerted them that their dog was still alive and being used for blood transfusions. Just wait, they assured me, when all the facts come out, this veterinarian from Hell will be exonerated. That the only way this could possibly occur would be for it to be proven that what the police thought was Sid was actually a hologram didn’t deter the doctor’s defenders at all.
Luckily, commenter Candy Roberts, a veterinary technician, put their arguments in perspective. Here is her much appreciated Comment of the Day on the post, Animal Ethics: Now THIS Is An Unethical Veterinarian:
“I have been a Veterinary technician for 26 years. I live and breath my job, so I have a different perspective.
First, it is illegal to take a pet that an owner has signed euthanasia forms for. Believe me, there have been many over the years I have wanted to save, and unless and owner signs a surrender form, that pet is not yours to decide what you want, regardless of whether you are a vet or not. Second, I have seen several people say that, “yeah, the clinic was dirty and cluttered but the surgical equipment and surgical area were clean and all vets have animal organs hanging around.” Well, I say no way. It is impossible to have a sterile surgical unit if the rest of the clinic is dirty. There is absolutely no reason for a clinic to be dirty… none whatsoever. A animal clinic should be as clean as a human hospital and if it is not, there is a problem.
If you walk in and smell animals, the place is dirty and the doctors and staff are lazy.We do not, nor do any of the clinics I have ever worked for, have organs everywhere. No, we do not have a heart either: we have a model of one. The fact that they have excused a dirty clinic tells me the poor standard of care that his clients were used to. They know no better, which is why they are supporting him. Would they take their children to a dirty doctor’s office?
Why are none of his supporters discussing the actual charges brought against him? [Among other charges], he was charged for cruelty to his own dog. How can someone claim to care about his clients’ pets, yet allow his own dog to suffer with broken bones, a missing foot etc? This is so sad, and makes me ashamed that people like this are a part of a profession that I love so much.
Finally I wish his technicians had been charged as well and their license taken, if they have them. We are supposed to care for animals who are sick and broken, especially at the hands of others, yet they did nothing to help these animals who were suffering. By doing nothing they neglected their duties and their oaths just as [Dr. Tierce] did. There is never an excuse for dirty clinics, or mistreating animals. I hope the animals he hurt get justice, [and] that he will never be able to practice or even own an animal again. He should have retired years ago.”