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.

August 30, 2003


A Fountain Valley veterinarian whose nationally recognized hospital treats more than 30,000 animals a year has been disciplined by the state veterinary medical board.

Dr. Robert L. Rooks allowed an unregistered technician to perform medical procedures on animals and misrepresented veterinarians as medical specialists, such as a neurologist or an internist, to the public, authorities said.

The California Veterinary Medical Board adopted a proposed judgment by Administrative Law Judge Alan S. Meth, who concluded that Rooks should be placed on three years' probation and pay $83,300 for investigative and prosecuting costs, as well as a $5,000 fine.

Meth ruled after a 5 1/2-week hearing in San Diego that an unlicensed technician at Rooks' All-Care Animal Hospital was performing medical procedures such as anesthetizing animals and inserting a feeding tube, and that All-Care misrepresented its veterinarians as specialists.

More than 60 witnesses testified.

Rooks was exonerated of seven other charges, including that he allowed a former heavy-equipment operator to perform surgery on an animal, falsified medical records and recommended unnecessary procedures. Rooks was out of the country Friday and could not be reached to comment.

One of his attorneys, Clifford W. Roberts, said he will appeal the decision.

Roberts said that many veterinarians allow nonregistered technicians to administer anesthesia, but that no one else has been disciplined in 20 years for the practice.

Hundreds of California veterinarians wrote letters of support for Rooks.

Sue Geranen, executive officer of the California Veterinary Medical Board, said the decision in the Rooks case should compel all veterinarians in the future to make sure that the administering of anesthesia is delegated to appropriate registered technicians.

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Robert Rooks