Late last week on The Daily Weekly, while you were digesting your Thanksgiving meal, Seattle Weekly's Nina Shapiro was writing about the case of Ferndale's Peter Rule, a veterinarian accused of "physically and psychologically abusing patients."
We wrote about Rule a couple years ago in a cover story on pet owners who are taking veterinarians to court over perceived mistreatment of their beloved, four-legged family members. In most of the cases described, pet owners simply perceived that their animals had not received adequate care. Sadism typically wasn't involved.
But Rule was a different story. In 2009, animal rights lawyer Adam Karp filed a complaint with the DOH that cited employees of Rule who claimed that their boss deliberately manhandled animals. Here's what one staffer said, quoted in the complaint:
Once, in or around 2007, a Chihuahua was terrorized in the cage by doctor. Dr. was banging on the cage door, growling at the dog, jumping toward it, trying to get the dog worked up. When he pulled the dog out of the cage, it snapped and growled at Dr. Rule who then started choking the dog on the table. The dog was lying on its side. He put his hand around the dog's neck and choked it to the point that it passed out. Dr. Rule said he learned this as a way to get an animal under control. I was shaking from witnessing this episode.
Finally, just last month, DOH's State Veterinary Board of Governors released a statement of charges that mirrors many of the claims in Karp's complaint. It accuses Rule of "physically and psychologically abusing patients."
But that's not all. The board also says that Rule allowed, and in one case pressured, unlicensed assistants to perform surgery. That's strictly verboten, as far as DOH rules are concerned. Then again, it apparently wasn't so great when Rule was wielding the knife either.
Accusing Rule of providing substandard care, the statement says that, in one case, Rule nicked the spleen of a dog named Daisy. She started to bleed. Rule couldn't control it. And Daisy bled to death.
Not surprisingly, along with 666 Facebook "Likes" and counting as of this writing, the post inspired feedback from at least one Daily Weekly commenter.
As commenter lovecattt writes:
This is not an isolated case, unfortunately. I worked as a vet assistant for a total of 7 years in different states and at different hospitals, and have at one time or another witnessed a vet doing EVERY SINGLE THING that this vet has allegedly done, not to mention other things that are highly questionable, unethical, or illegal. I'm glad this is being investigated because so often reports against vets from "disgruntled employees" are resoundingly ignored. As for Rule's statement that his employee who made allegations still brought her dog to him, I would be willing to bet that's because a staff discount was important to her in being able to afford her dog's care and she might not have been able to go elsewhere. I hope this article will inspire all concerned pet owners to listen to their intuition when dealing with their own vets: If you think something feels "off", there unfortunately is most likely something to it.