By Liz Fields
A Texas woman who thought she had her dog euthanized six months ago was horrified to learn that her pet’s veterinarian allegedly kept the animal alive to harvest its blood for transfusions to other animals, she said today.
Authorities say they are now investigating multiple cases of alleged animal cruelty at Camp Bowie Animal Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, and removed at least two pets as evidence Tuesday after a former employee made the allegations.
Mary Harris said she and her family had been going to see veterinarian Lou Tierce for over 26 years for various pets and were shocked to learn he had allegedly kept their dog, Sid, alive for about six months after their pet was supposedly euthanized for a congenital spinal defect.
“We trusted the vet. We said our goodbyes,” Harris told ABC News. “We had even talked about burial arrangements, and then six months later I get a call that he’s still alive.”
The Harris family first brought Sid, a 4-year-old Leonberger that is a breed also known as a “gentle giant,” to Tierce in May 2013. Sid had been suffering from an anal gland problem and was kept at the vet’s office for an “experimental treatment” at Tierce’s recommendation, Harris said.
Family members visited Sid numerous times during the summer, they say, and discovered on a September visit that he had suddenly become unable to walk. Shortly after, the family said, they were told that Sid would need to be killed because of an inoperable congenital birth defect.
Harris said she agreed to the decision in October, assuming Sid would be euthanized within 24 hours. But she said she received a surprise call last week from a former employee of the clinic, Mary Brewer.
“[Brewer] said, ‘I used to work at the vet clinic and I want to let you know Sid’s still alive,’” Harris said, now demanding that Tierce’s license be revoked as she makes plans to sue.
Sid has since returned home, but has been “skittish” and “stressed,” suffering from poor stamina because of “significant atrophy in his hindquarters,” Harris said.
“My son asked, ‘How can this happen? [The vet] is a grandpa; grandpas don’t do that,” Harris said.
The clinic declined to comment to ABC News today beyond confirming that the vet still works there. It’s unclear whether he’s a clinic employee or has a stake in the ownership.
The animal had been mistreated for several months and other dogs that had supposedly died in the clinic were also alive, Brewer told ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth.
“I think he’s evil,” Brewer said of Tierce. “Anybody that can do that and not have no remorse, something’s wrong.”
ABC News has been unable to reach Brewer.
Other pet owners who regularly attended the vet’s office appeared at the clinic in a panic Tuesday after hearing about Sid.
“We love this vet; they’ve been nothing but good for us,” Symantha Spence told WFAA, adding that she showed up to “make sure” their golden retriever who had died there in March was actually dead. It’s unclear whether her dog was dead or alive. No charges have been filed in the matter but at least two dogs had been removed as part of an ongoing investigation, the Fort Worth Police Department told ABC News.
State authorities, who are also investigating the case, told WFAA-TV it does not discuss cases brought against vets.
Harris said Brewer showed “extraordinary courage” in calling the family, and is thankful for being reunited with Sid, whom she expects to recover following assessment at a rehab facility and bouts of physical therapy treatment.
“Mary is the real hero in this story.” Harris said. “That was a big deal for her and we wouldn’t have Sid back if it hadn’t been for her.”
By Liz Fields