ALL-CARE LAWSUITS

LAWSUITS

 

NEW INFORMATION

Regarding state's medical expert's opinion on Rooks' negligence in the Rusty Patrice case. Click here to view
 

Attorney General   v. All-Care Scheduled court date April 28, 2003, 9 a.m.

Case No.: AV 2000 27
FIRST AMENDED
ACCUSATION

October 25, 2002
(Added text appears in bold emphasis)

 

BLUESTONE WINS $39,000.00


Anderson   v. All-Care
Judgment in favor of Anderson
 

All-Care v. Ballard    
Judgment in favor of Ballard

Ballard refused to pay for what she said was "unauthorized" aggressive surgery on her cat Squad Car, resulting in his suffering and death. "All Care" sued her and lost.
 

Berry
Berry v. Robert L. Rooks and All Care Animal Referral Center; Judgment pending; case will be heard January 8, 2003.
 

Brooks   v. All-Care
Case pending. Transferred to a higher court.
 

All-Care v. Cutter
Judgment in favor of Cutter
 

All-Care v. Deaver  
Judgment in favor of Deaver

The Deavers refused to pay for what they claimed was incompetent care by Rachel Gilligan and "All Care". They claimed that "All Cares" I C U was run by incompetents. "All Care" sued them and "All Care" lost.
 

Eskridge   v. All-Care
Judgment in favor of Eskridge

Sued "All Care Animal Referral Center", Robert Rooks, Craig Bergstrom, Frank Borostyankoi for giving them the impression that Bergstrom was a Board Certified Neurologist, causing improper treatment resulting in their dogs death. Eskridge won.
 

All-Care v. Fannan  
Judgment in favor of Fannan. Case dismissed.

Was unlicensed to do the procedures she was doing at "All Care", and she was trained by "All Care", to do them improperly (as were the others trained with her) She performed them for 2 months. When she discovered that she was doing them incorrectly. She asked "All Care" to inform their clients and refund the money. "All Care" told her it would be impossible to track down all the animals that had been mistreated.
 

Fuller   v. All-Care
Pending
 

All-Care v. Greve
Judgment in favor of Greve
 

Hall   v. All-Care
Read the Pleading
All-Care settled out of court; Amount "CONFIDENTIAL"

Veteranarian who formerly worked at "All Care". Sued for Fraud, Unjust Enrichment based on Fraud etc. etc. Claimed that Rooks and Bergstrom would hand off cases to her after they failed to render proper and professional followup care. That Rooks falsely accused her of killing animals. That Rooks diverted assets and accounts receivables and converted them to his own personal use without any accountability. Treated his own personal expenses as if they were the expenses of the business entities i.e. dry cleaning bills, grocery bills, housekeeper charges, personal clothing items, home furnishings, acquisition of antiques and house payments on various homes. Claimed abuse of the corporate privelege would sanction fraud by sheltering Rooks as an individual.
 

Hayslett   v. All-Care
Judgment for the Plaintiff (Hayslett) in the amount of $3,607.92 plus costs of $48.00.  Plaintiff (Hayslett) does not owe All-Care any money on their claim.  OTHER: Claim of defendant (All-Care) DENIED.

The Haysletts were told by "All Care" on October 23, 1999 that they had a Cardiologist to perform Pacemaker Surgery on their 3 year old dog Alex the following day. All Care sent their van all the way to Bakersfield to pick up Alex. Time is of the essence in this procedure. The Haysletts claimed that they then discovered that All Care had no Cardiologist to do the surgery, nor did they have proper equipment. All Care did an unauthorized liver Biopsy and other procedures that made him weaker. All Care took Alex off his heart medicine. They stalled the Haysletts and according to them kept running up the bill. Finally the Haysletts called U.C. Davis and were referred to a well known Cardiologist who has done hundreds of pacemakers, only 20 minutes away from All Care. In fact when the Haysletts called this Cardiologist they discovered he had told All Care to transport Alex to him in their van and he would do the surgery immediately. All Care did not do this. They held on to Alex claiming they were waiting for "the best" Robert Rooks to return and do the surgery in a week. Pacemaker surgery should be done by a Cardioloigist, unless there is no other possibility. In the L.A area thats not an issue. Alex died 7 days after being admitted to "All Care" on the day the Haysletts were going to drive down and take him to the Cardiologist. They sued because they claimed that All Care fraudently accepted Alex's case, when they had no business doing so, and in fact should have sent Alex to the proper Board Certified Cardiologist. They claimed Alex died due to "All Cares" Fraud and Negligence. The Haysletts won.

 

Higgins   v. All-Care  
Judgment in favor of Higgins

December 4, 2001;  
Defendant Rooks, Robert L. & All-Care Animal Referral Center shall pay plaintiff Higgins, Andrew $500.00 plus costs of $80.00.  
 

All Care v. Higgins  
Filed Jan. 11, 2002; 
Complaint for (1) Breach of Oral Contract (2) Fraud
Case Dismissed
 

All-Care v. Higgins  
Filed Aug. 30, 2002
Case Dismissed
 

Higgins  
Complaint of  Malicious Prosecution
Filed Oct. 2, 2002; 
Higgins v . Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP,  Aaron Malo, Animal Critical Care Center, Inc. dba All-Care Animal Referral Center, Robert L. Rooks; 
Pending
 

Kraft   v. All-Care
Pending
 

All-Care v. Lopez  
Defendant DOES NOT OWE plaintiff any money on plaintiff's claim. OTHER: On court's motion, case is dismissed without prejudice
 

Menkes   v. All-Care
All-Care paid off out of court.

Sued for Negligence, Emotional Distress and Fraud. Claiming that "All Care" intentionally, unlawfully, maliciously,wantonly and recklessly undertook a spinal tap on their dog Henry D. Pugg without their consent and in direct contravention of the Menkes directions not to perform the spinal tap. the Menkes states that as a direct result of the spinal tap, their dog was killed.

 

Miller   v. All-Care
All-Care paid off out of court.

Sued for incompetent treatment,and stated that "All Care" billed her for services they claimed they performed on her dog, 2 mos. after he died there.

 

Oropallo vs. All-Care  
All-Care ordered to pay

 

Patrice   v. All-Care
All-Care paid off out of court.

Sued for Unnecessary Surgery, Fraud and Negligence resulting in her healthy cat "Rustys" untimely death.

 

Payne   v. All-Care
Read the Judgement
Rooks paid off out of court.

Sued for Negligence, Vet Malpractice. Claimed "All Care" did surgery, was supposed to perform careful and competent care during his recuperation, but instead they allowed an infection and tick infestation to occur while her dog was in their care... resulting in his death.

 

Tabbytite vs. All-Care
Pending 

 

All Care v. Wikert  
Judgment in favor of Wikert



Grant and Sarkissoff and Veterinary Referral Service and Trauma Center Inc.
Read the Pleading
Sued Rooks for Recession and Damages based on Fraud, Negligent Representation Breach of Contract etc. etc.
Case settled Out of Court by Rooks, with a Confidentiality Agreement.
Davis, Sued Rooks and Huntington Valley Veterinary Emergency Clinic Inc.for Breach Of Contract.


ALL-CARE IN THE PRESS

 

Good Dogs, Bad Medicine

May 21, 2001
Newsweek

View this article

 

O.C. Animal Clinic Charged

State says Fountain Valley center falsified records and misrepresented many employees' qualifications.

Sept. 7, 2001
 -Jim Hinch

Orange County Register

View this article

 

ISU alum, veterinarian successfully moves case to Calif. Supreme Court

By William Dillon

Daily Staff Writer

October 16, 2003

View Article

 

Noted veterinarian gets probation, fine

He is said to have hired unlicensed aides and misrepresented workers' expertise.

By STACI HUPP
Register Staff Writer
10/15/2003

View Article

 

August 30, 2003

Vet penalized for allowing aides to anesthetize pets

A state board has fined Dr. Robert L. Rooks $5,000. The group says he let unregistered techs do medical work.

 

Monday, June 2, 2003
O.C. veterinarian‚s license on the line
Robert Rooks handled tough cases, but complaints built up.

By: LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register

VIEW ARTICLE

SOURCE: The Orange County Register

 

Vet Med alumnus charged with practice violations
Doctor calls case 'smear campaign'

By William Dillon
Daily Correspondent
April 28, 2003

VIEW ARTICLE

 

Vet rightly faces loss of his license

April 27, 2003

By: Maite Kropp

The Reporter.com

VIEW ARTICLE

 

Animal Hospital Faces Charges

" The California Veterinary Medical Board has filed additional charges of negligence and deceit against All Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley."

Jan. 4, 2003
 -Jim Hinch

The OC Register

VIEW ARTICLE

 

Pet clinic complaint  amended

Report: Officials allege facility's use of unlicensed personnel extends beyond time previously noted.

Jan. 7, 2003
 -Joe Segura
Long Beach Press Telegram

VIEW ARTICLE

 

Renowned O.C. Animal Hospital Prosecuted Courts: State says one vet was a phony, two were asked to inflate credentials and files were falsified.

Orange County September 7, 2001
 -MONTE MORIN
Times Headlines

View this article

 

Complaints about pet care trigger a 'cat fight'

August 9, 2000
Long Beach Press Telegram
View this article

 

Suit says vets did not keep pace - Animals:  Bakersfield couple came all the way to O.C. for pacemaker

July 5, 2000

View this article

 

Long-term All-Care probe frustrates pet owners

June 27, 2001
Orange County Register

View this article

 

Fountain Valley Animal Hospital Under Scrutiny

May 4, 2001

View this article

 

Suspicions and doubts

June 10, 2001
The Reporter
Vacaville, CA

View this article

 


 

If you suspect Veterinary Malpractice  
 

24-hour Veterinary Hospitals in  Southern California  
 

The Abusive Vet  
 

The Vets Oath  
 

Sign the petition

 


What other states are doing about veterinary abuse

 

Veterinarian suspended for one year
Pet owners filed a dozen complaints in two years against Lowcountry doctor
July 26, 2002
 -JOE GUY COLLIER
TheState.com

View this article
 

Secret system hides concerns on S.C. veterinary care
Woman finds Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners lacking in its charge to protect animals
Jul 21, 2002
 -John Monk, Staff Writer
TheState.com

View this article
 

Three men plead guilty to animal abuse in beating calf
July 26, 2002
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
Pineville, MO
View this article
 

Animal Rights Law Reporter Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors
click here to view
 

Court Rulings could up ante on DVM malpractice
DVM Magazine
click here to view
 

Owners or guardians?
Cities change identity of pet owners, hoping to promote welfare
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
click here to view


LINKS

 

Animal Legal Defense Fund

If you suspect Veterinary Malpractice

Pet Lawyers

In Defense of Animals

Animal Rights Legal Foundation

American Animal Hospital Association

PETA

Veterinary Medical Board

Animals Voice

The Fund for Animals

American Veterinary Medical Law Association

Petgate

S.A.V.E.

Animal Concerns

Abuse of Animals by Veterinarian
In Memory of Lucy

All Creatures

The Animals Agenda

1888PetMedsonline

PetCareRx.com

Animal Lover

Animal Planet

Planet Pets

Pet Doors.com

Furballs & Cat Links too

Remember Sheba

Equine Veterinary Malpractice

Toasty's vet malpractice guide

Alleged vet malpractice following shooting Moon's story

Dog Bite Law

DVM News Magazine

Vets Unleashes

Valley Pet News


Other items in the News & Shelter/Rescue Info

 

Underfed dogs removed from unlicensed kennel  
 

Hundreds of dogs seized from illegal kennel To adopt one of the rescued dogs, call Baldwin Park Animal Shelter at
(626) 962-3577
 

Are veterinarians running too free?


FAQ

 

How to find a pet lawyer
click here to view


CONTACT

allcarelawsuits@marxmail.net

 

Welcome!

T he information on this website has been obtained through various sources of public records. It is with great sorrow and feeling for these individuals and their beloved companions that we believe the compilation of this information be brought forth.

In each case we were able to obtain, we found that either the court sided with the individual and not with All-Care Animal Referral Center; or in court cases filed in Superior Court, we found that All-Care Animal Referral Center settled out of court. Some court cases listed are still pending. 

We believe that the information contained in this website is enough to warrant very serious attention. Furthermore, we are also aware that for each court case filed, there may be dozens of other instances that go unreported. With this in mind, we invite any individual having knowledge of other related cases to contact us.

Please be advised that this site is a compilation of factual information and no unsubstantiated information will be posted on this site. 


Since the creation of this site , we have been contacted by other individuals with similar experiences. While these have not been filed in court, they are, without a doubt, nonetheless heartbreaking.

Please be aware that All Care Animal Referral Center and Robert Rooks are now in partnership with V.C.A. and it is now called V.C.A. All Care Animal Referral Center. 


Rooks appealed his sentencing on Oct 15, 2003 at the Veterinary Medical board and lost.

 

AUGUST 2003

Veterinarian license number 6717 issued to respondent Robert Lee Rooks and premise permit number 2704 issued to All-Care Animal Referral center are revoked by reason of legal conclusions 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15.

However, the revocation is "stayed" and respondent "Robert Rooks" and "All-Care" are placed on probation for a period of three years and must pay court costs and fines to total $88,300.00 and three years probation.

The court found that Robert Rooks practiced deception in veterinary medicine!!

Robert Rooks and All Care had a professional connection with an illegal practitioner of veterinary medicine.

Robert Rooks and All Care violated the Veterinary Medical Practice Act.

Robert Rooks and All Care permitted unregistered assistants to induce anesthesia in animals.

Judge Meth stated that:

"The evidence respondents (Rooks and All Care) knew of and committed acts of deception...............is substantial."

"The evidence clearly established a pattern of practice within All Care to refer to its Drs. as specialists..........Accordingly, the evidence established the respondent (Rooks) was deceptive"

"All Cares clients came to All Care expecting to have their pets treated by specialists, and All Cares non-licensed employees ensured that that the clients believed their pets were being treated by specialists."

"Respondents (Rooks) claim the actions of his unregistered assistants did not constitute induction is less than flimsy, and showed how far he was willing to go to defend his practice. Respondent (Rooks) has yet to recognize he was wrong".

MORE BREAKING NEWS! Feb 21, 2004

BLUESTONE WINS $39,000.00 IN LAWSUIT!

JURY FINDS NEGLIGENCE IN CARE OF PET WHO DIED!

A JURY ESTABLISHED THAT A PET HAS "UNIQUE AND SPECIAL" VALUE TO ITS OWNER AND AWARDED MORE THAN $30,000.00 IN DAMAGES FOR NEGLIGENT TREATMENT.

It was the first time in a California court that a jury established such an emotional value of a pet to its owner. "If a jury can establish a special value for a grandmothers wedding ring, then certainly a living, breathing animal can have a special value to its owner," said attorney Theresa Macellaro.


ROBERT L. ROOKS D.V.M. OF "ALL CARE ANIMAL REFERRAL CENTER" PENALIZED BY CALIFORNIA VETERINARY MEDICAL BOARD TO THE TUNE OF $88,300.00!!!
AFTER A  5-1/2  WEEK HEARING BY THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERALS  OFFICE, JUDGE ALAN METH CONCLUDED THAT ROBERT L. ROOKS D.V.M. OF "ALL CARE ANIMAL REFERRAL CENTER", IN FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, SHOULD BE PLACED ON

 

THREE YEARS PROBATION, PAY $83,300.00

IN PROSECUTING AND INVESTIGATIVE COSTS,

AS WELL AS $5,000.00 IN FINES.

Rooks is not allowed to supervise or teach interns.


For those cases of individuals who took their animals to All Care, because they were told by All Care that their animals were being treated by specialists and who won their cases against All Care in court when they alleged that their amnimals died as a result of the misrepresentations, their cases speak for themselves and the verdicts against All Care stand. All information on this website is taken from public records.

***************************************************************************

January 2005, The Veterinary Medical Board issued a Stipulated Settlement and Order in which the Board retained the money they collected from Rooks and All Care and the formal discipline became a 3 year Citation against Rooks and All Care, which is now called "V C A All Care Animal Referral Center". This demonstrates how crucial it is for the public to do their own extensive research on any vet they are recommended to (no matter who does the recommending, even another vet) The public has to understand that full page ads etc. are "sales" tools, even in the various medical professions. The Courts generally do not consider "animal" issues that important, which is why jury trials usually fare better in these kinds of cases. When finances are a consideration, the average person can prepare thoroughly and utilize Small Claims Court, which costs practically nothing. The award limit is $5,000.00, but the cost is approximately $25.00 or so. The Veterinary Medical Board is made up in the majority of vets, with some public members who are political appointees. In the same rationale that there is a Police Commission to oversee the Police Department to insure checks and balances, a seperate Commission to oversee the various professions (not made up of the members of that profession) appears very much to be an idea whose time has come. Much progress is being made in the courts across the country regarding animal cases, but much more needs to be done. In the meantime, when choosing a vet... DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

***************************************************************************

In an entirely different Veterinary Medical Board case in Northern California, a vet was found to have physically abused an animal. The vet was put on Probation. He appealed his sentence in a local civil court and the judge dismissed all the charges against him, despite the fact that the vet admitted the abuse. More information on this story in the future.

* * * MORE BREAKING NEWS * * *

  * UPCOMING TRIAL *

 

JANUARY 5, 2004

ORANGE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT.
SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA
  

PLAINTIFF: BLUESTONE 

V.S.

DEFENDANTS:  ALL CARE ANIMAL  REFERRAL
CENTER, ROBERT ROOKS, CRAIG BERGSTROM  ET AL

 

CASE # 00CC00796


CHARGES: DECEIT,  NEGLIGENCE, MALPRACTICE, EMOTIONAL DISTRESS,  CONVERSION,
TRESPASS TO CHATTEL.


Aug 2001 - Attorney General files Accusation

Attorney General
Amends their Accusation
October 25, 2002

Click here to view details of this case

In the matter of revoking the license of veterinarian

ROBERT ROOKS

and revoking the premise permit of

ALL-CARE ANIMAL REFERRAL CENTER

Case No.: AV 2000 27 

FIRST AMENDED
ACCUSATION

October 25, 2002

(Cal. Gov. Code 11503)

(Added text appears in bold emphasis)

Filed Aug. 28, 2001

Bill Lockyer
Att
orney General
of the State of California


Thomas S. Lazar
State Bar No. 120621
Deputy Attorney General

Linda K. Schneider
State Bar No. 101336
Deputy Attorney General

California Department of Justice
110 West "A" Street, Suite 1100
San Diego, CA  92101

PO Box 85266
San Diego, CA 92186-5266
Tel: (619) 645-3037

Attorneys for Complainant

BEFORE THE
VETERINARY MEDICAL BOARD
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

In the Matter of the Accusation Against:

Robert Lee Rooks, DVM
and
All-Care Animal Referral Center Respondent.

Click here to view details of this case


MOST RECENT NEWS

Bluestone   v. All-Care
Week of Jan 12-19, 2004
Dept C-6 Orange County Superior Court.

 

Bluestone v. Bergstrom

Berry v. Robert L. Rooks; All-Care Animal Referral Center

NEW INFORMATION

Regarding state's medical expert's opinion on Rooks' negligence in the Rusty Patrice case. Click here to view

Higgins  v. All-Care  
Judgment in favor of Higgins
Filed December 4, 2001
Defendant Rooks, Robert L. & All-Care Animal Referral Center shall pay plaintiff Higgins, Andrew $500.00 plus costs of $80.00.

All-Care v. Higgins  
Filed January 11, 2002
Complaint for (1) Breach of Oral Contract (2) Fraud; Case dismissed


All-Care v. Higgins

Filed August 30, 2002 
Notice of Ruling and of Orders to  Show Cause Animal Critical Care Center, Inc. v . Higgins; Dismissal Entered: September 5, 2002

Complaint for Malicious Prosecution
Filed October 02, 2002 
Higgins v . Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, Aaron Malo, Justine Casey, Animal Critical Care Center, Inc., dba All-Care Animal Referral Center; Robert L. Rooks; Pending


Do You Suspect Abuse?

As a client suspecting your pet was abused, you should file a complaint to your state Veterinary Licensing Board . These boards have the authority to investigate such allegations and suspend or remove the veterinarian's license. Unfortunately this happens very seldom, but to let it go unreported gives the impression to authorities and to society that abuse by a veterinarian is not that serious, and perhaps even acceptable. If you have witnessed abuse by a veterinarian, it is your first and foremost responsibility to file a report with both the states licensing board and to your local police department.


From the Veterinary Medical Board  

Issuing a Citation and Fine
The VMB implemented the citation and fine program in 1990 to augment its complaint review process . The program is used to address minor licensee violations and minor unlicensed activity violations. The program allows the VMB to address violations of the law that do not warrant revocation or suspension of a license or criminal prosecution. The VMB established regulations that provide a flexible guide to determine an appropriate civil penalty related to the nature and gravity of each violation as it affects the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, where a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the findings of the law or where a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the findings of a violation, payment of the fine shall be represented as satisfactory resolution of the matter for purposes of public disclosure. If an appeal petition has not been filed, payment of any fine shall not constitute an admission of the violation charged.

Referring a Case to the Attorney General's Office
When the allegations are confirmed and are serious enough in nature, the complaint may be submitted to the AG's Office for formal disciplinary action. Once a case has been accepted by the AG's Office, a formal legal document called an accusation is drafted. The accusation is the first public document in the disciplinary process. By signing the accusation, the VMB's executive officer becomes the complainant. Once the accusation is filed, a hearing date is set and document becomes public information. At the hearing, the VMB must demonstrate by "clear and convincing evidence to a reasonable certainty" that the allegations contained in the accusation are true. For that reason, it is generally necessary for the person or persons who submitted the original complaint to testify.

In many cases, defense counsel and the Deputy Attorney General representing the VMB may negotiate stipulated agreements prior to the hearing. Stipulated agreements generally include admission to one or more of the violations alleged and a proposal for appropriate discipline. The terms and conditions in a stipulated agreement are based on disciplinary guidelines developed by the VMB.

If the case goes to a full administrative hearing, the hearing is presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After the hearing is finished, the ALJ will issue a "proposed decision" stating the findings and offer a recommendation for resolution of the case (i.e., dismissal, revocation, suspension or probation). The ALJ utilizes the VMB's Disciplinary Guidelines in formulating his or her recommendation. The Proposed Decision is distributed to the VMB members for a vote. If the VMB votes in favor of the proposed decision, it becomes final thirty (30) days after adoption, unless appealed. If the VMB votes to "non-adopt" the proposed decision, the hearing transcript is requested and reviewed by the VMB, written arguments are solicited from the defense counsel and the VMB's counsel, and the VMB subsequently issues its own decision. Once a decision is final, it is a matter of public record and copies are available upon written request.

It should be noted that the time frame involved in the disciplinary process (from the time the VMB receives the original complaint until a final decision is rendered) is generally a minimum of two years.

Should Unlicensed Practice Be Reported to the VMB?
Absolutely! If you have evidence which indicates that an unlicensed person is participating in activities for which a license is required, you should report such activity to the VMB. The VMB will investigate and pursue appropriate administrative action.


"What we are up against..."

"For all advocates fighting to make the public aware of abuses by veterinarians in all forms -- abuse of animals, abuse of clients and client trust, abuse of public trust, abuse of their position as doctors, and abuse of the system designed to protect our pets -- please read the following to know what we are up against. "

"It's a report by Susan Geranen, Executive Director of the California Veterinary Medical Board, taken in its entirety from the VMB web site. It informs their licensees (vets) of the need to basically monitor the media for any "inflammatory" stories that are "unfairly" portraying vets. As self-serving as this report is, the good news is that efforts to make veterinary abuse known to the public is having an effect, the media is covering these abuses, and clearly, the Board doesn't like it. It's to be expected that as we make inroads to educate the public about abusive veterinarians, the Boards will fight back to protect their interests."

Comments from animal advocates have been added as footnotes and are not part of the original report.

Source: unknown


Executive Officer's Update

Source:  Veterinary Medical Board Web Site
http://www.vmb.ca.gov/about/eoupdat1.htm

Reach Out and Touch Someone
by Susan Geranen

 

Consumer Outreach-is it just a “buzz” word or a viable goal? Although licensing boards have many varied mechanisms for attempting to “reach out” to consumers, including newsletters, web sites, brochures, press releases, radio, television, etc., getting information out to the public can be more difficult than it seems.

The California Veterinary Medical Board has made it a priority to conduct annual strategic planning sessions and each year consumer outreach is its number one priority. Some of the questions that arise when discussing the logistics of “reaching out” are:

• Who is our audience? Who do we need to “reach out” to?

• How do we identify members of that audience?

• Who needs to know about the licensing board?

• What do they need to know and what types of information will help the public and their pets?

• How do we insure that the information provided is accurate?

• How do we get feedback from the different public and professional groups we are trying to reach so the information can be modified to meet specific needs?

The Board has found it difficult to identify its audience, insure that the information is accurate and informative, and to identify the most effective news medium in which to distribute that information. Difficult-but not impossible.

Information accuracy is critical in any outreach program. Informational articles published on the Board’s web site, in its brochures, and in its newsletter are subject to a multiple level review including its own legal counsel, so that the accuracy of the information disseminated is assured. The review includes a designated board member, legal counsel, the Department of Consumer Affairs Communications Unit, and the Director of DCA.

The Board has little, if any, control over the accuracy of information disseminated by the news media. For example, a few months ago, a reporter from KPIX in the San Francisco Bay area, distorted the facts in his newscast, in order to create a sensational, attention-grabbing story. The positive is that the story reached a large number of people who may not have known that the Board exists. The negative is that the story incorrectly portrayed the Board as a bureaucracy that did nothing against a veterinarian who was found to be guilty of negligence and animal cruelty. The truth was that the Board had revoked the veterinarian’s license, then stayed the revocation and required five years probation with specific probationary terms and conditions. *

Professionals are human. Mistakes can be made. Euthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions a veterinarian has to make, especially since veterinarians take an oath to ease pain and suffering and save animals’ lives. In this case, the veterinarian had no prior discipline and the need for euthanasia was substantiated. The veterinarian made a mistake and is paying for that mistake. The news reporter’s inflammatory distortion of the facts in this case was uncalled-for and undeserved. **

It is difficult to balance the need for a wide range of distribution methods for consumer outreach information against the very real possibility that the news media can distort the facts. The Veterinary Medical Board is a public agency and the majority of information is publicly disclosed as a matter of course. The relationship with the news media is both positive and negative because often times the information is distorted because the administrative process is difficult to understand. ***

Therefore, since we cannot control the news media’s presentation of the facts, accountability is key. Newscasters must be acknowledged both when they do a good job of presenting the facts and when they do not. It is up to the Board to acknowledge accurate reporting and to rebut distorted facts. ****

Consumer outreach is a critical component of a licensing board’s mission. A board must be diligent in identifying its audience and its informational needs. It must then utilize all available methods of distribution to reach out. Finally, it must be responsible for insuring that the information is accurate. 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes for animal advocates and the public:

*"Staying" a revocation means that the revocation is in name only -- the vet was allowed to continue to practice under a "probation" that for all we know was also in name only. The Board has its own definition of "revocation," which does nothing to protect our companion animals.

**Typical justification of veterinarians as humans who make mistakes, nothing more. A reporter portraying a tragic event has every right and duty to inform the public of the anguish and loss associated with what happens to animals when vets "make mistakes." It's not "inflammatory" -- it's freedom of the press, and Boards are traditionally not thrilled with the First Amendment.

***If the Board process is "difficult to  understand," who is responsible for that? The Board can change its process at any time to make it easier to use and navigate, but that would mean they couldn't play fast and loose with their own laws when they choose not to enforce them. The process is deliberately confusing and arbitrary to discourage people from using it, because the Board's job is protect the vets, not our pets.


****Translation: "We know we can't control the media, but it's up to us to reward the puff pieces that portray us in a favorable light, and when the truth gets out, we need to refute it and punish the reporters who are relating facts that we don't like. We will define what is 'accurate.'" And notice the opening sentence: "...accountability is key." Too bad the Board doesn't have the same philosophy regarding the actions of its own licensees. Apparently the news media (which they lament is out of their control) must be held accountable. Abusive veterinarians, however, must not.


FOR CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS:

If you want to report a problem, contact The Veterinary Medical Board at 916 263 2610 and request "Complaint Forms" to be mailed to you. Your complaint must be in writing on the Boards form. When you send in your complaint send it Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Stay on top of your case throughout the process.

Attorney General Office that prosecuted "All Care Animal Referral Center"
Phone number: 619 645 2001.
The Deputy A.G.s were:
Linda Schneider, and Susan Ruff.

FOR RESIDENTS OUTSIDE OF CALIFORNIA:

Find out your States Veterinary Licensing Boards Procedures for Complaints. Stay on top of them, because many of them are bogged down in bureaucracy.

Contact: "The Animal Legal Defense Fund" for information on Attorneys in your area: 702-769 7771.

Locate Animal Adoption Groups (newspaper ads, pet stores etc,) and share your experiences and ask for help.

No vet can prevent you from revealing their name or the name of their facility if...

You filed a formal complaint against the vet with the licensing board or other enforcement authority, regardless of the outcome

The vet was or is under investigation by the state licensing board

The information is a matter of public record. This includes disciplinary action, lawsuits filed, arrests, criminal records, property records, driving records, or any other personal or professional information that is public record.


Do You Suspect Abuse?

As a client suspecting your pet was abused, you should file a complaint to your state Veterinary Licensing Board . These boards have the authority to investigate such allegations and suspend or remove the veterinarian's license. Unfortunately this happens very seldom, but to let it go unreported gives the impression to authorities and to society that abuse by a veterinarian is not that serious, and perhaps even acceptable. If you have witnessed abuse by a veterinarian, it is your first and foremost responsibility to file a report with both the states licensing board and to your local police department.


From the Veterinary Medical Board  

Issuing a Citation and Fine
The VMB implemented the citation and fine program in 1990 to augment its complaint review process . The program is used to address minor licensee violations and minor unlicensed activity violations. The program allows the VMB to address violations of the law that do not warrant revocation or suspension of a license or criminal prosecution. The VMB established regulations that provide a flexible guide to determine an appropriate civil penalty related to the nature and gravity of each violation as it affects the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, where a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the findings of the law or where a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the findings of a violation, payment of the fine shall be represented as satisfactory resolution of the matter for purposes of public disclosure. If an appeal petition has not been filed, payment of any fine shall not constitute an admission of the violation charged.

Referring a Case to the Attorney General's Office
When the allegations are confirmed and are serious enough in nature, the complaint may be submitted to the AG's Office for formal disciplinary action. Once a case has been accepted by the AG's Office, a formal legal document called an accusation is drafted. The accusation is the first public document in the disciplinary process. By signing the accusation, the VMB's executive officer becomes the complainant. Once the accusation is filed, a hearing date is set and document becomes public information. At the hearing, the VMB must demonstrate by "clear and convincing evidence to a reasonable certainty" that the allegations contained in the accusation are true. For that reason, it is generally necessary for the person or persons who submitted the original complaint to testify.

In many cases, defense counsel and the Deputy Attorney General representing the VMB may negotiate stipulated agreements prior to the hearing. Stipulated agreements generally include admission to one or more of the violations alleged and a proposal for appropriate discipline. The terms and conditions in a stipulated agreement are based on disciplinary guidelines developed by the VMB.

If the case goes to a full administrative hearing, the hearing is presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After the hearing is finished, the ALJ will issue a "proposed decision" stating the findings and offer a recommendation for resolution of the case (i.e., dismissal, revocation, suspension or probation). The ALJ utilizes the VMB's Disciplinary Guidelines in formulating his or her recommendation. The Proposed Decision is distributed to the VMB members for a vote. If the VMB votes in favor of the proposed decision, it becomes final thirty (30) days after adoption, unless appealed. If the VMB votes to "non-adopt" the proposed decision, the hearing transcript is requested and reviewed by the VMB, written arguments are solicited from the defense counsel and the VMB's counsel, and the VMB subsequently issues its own decision. Once a decision is final, it is a matter of public record and copies are available upon written request.

It should be noted that the time frame involved in the disciplinary process (from the time the VMB receives the original complaint until a final decision is rendered) is generally a minimum of two years.

Should Unlicensed Practice Be Reported to the VMB?
Absolutely! If you have evidence which indicates that an unlicensed person is participating in activities for which a license is required, you should report such activity to the VMB. The VMB will investigate and pursue appropriate administrative action.

 

 

 

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