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For the Harris family of Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday was both the happiest day of their lives and the most infuriating.
On the one hand, their beloved Leonberger, Sid, is alive and back at home with his family, despite having been scheduled for euthanasia 6 months ago, on the recommendation of their veterinarian, Dr. Millard (Lou) Tierce, after being diagnosed with a congenital spine condition. On the other hand, Dr. Tierce had been keeping Sid alive, using him as an in-office blood donor for half of a year, without their knowledge or consent.
What’s more, after examination by another veterinarian it was determined that Sid should never have been recommended for euthanasia in the first place. Aside from health issues related to spending 6 months living in a cage, he appears well.
On Tuesday, Jamie and Marian Harris received a phone call from a former veterinary technician at Dr. Tierce’s practice, the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic – a well-respected practice that’s been treating Fort Worth area pet’s for over 40 years. The vet tech told the Harris’ that their dog, 4-year old Sid, who they thought had been laid to rest, was actually living in a cage at the veterinary clinic, being kept alive and used for blood donations.
After receiving the disturbing call, the Harris’ went to the clinic in search of their dog. One family member distracted the receptionist while another snuck into the back and found Sid. After making sure their dog was safely out of the clinic, they called police.
NBC in Dallas/Fort Worth reported,
Sid is now home with the Harris family and being treated by other veterinarians. According to the Harris family’s lawyer, James Eggelston, doctors have determined the dog has mange, shows definite signs of being used for blood transfusions and shows evidence of being “abusively kenneled.”
On Wednesday, a day after the Harris family contacted police, Dr. Tierce was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. He was later released after posting a $10,000 bond.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tierce, who has been practicing veterinary medicine since becoming licensed in 1966, has had his license suspended while the investigation continues.
Since the story broke, several of Dr. Tierce’s former clients have come forth, concerned about the well-being of their own pets.
According to The Star Telegram,
One woman wants confirmation that the dog she took to the clinic in October 2012 was euthanized. The woman said that she called the clinic Tuesday and was told that the information was not available. Workers confirmed that she was never billed for the procedure.
Christian Flores of Crowley said his family had a pit bull, Tyson, who was diagnosed with parvovirus. In November, the owners took the dog to the clinic and were told days later that Tyson had died. Flores said they never received a burial bill.
When police raided Camp Bowie Animal Clinic, they seized two dogs as part of their investigation. The Fort Worth Police Department will not provide additional details, only saying that the investigation continues. The state’s Board of Veterinarian Medical Examiners said it cannot comment on open investigations.