State Board vs. Marc Katz, DVM -- Case Findings

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Texas Consumer Advocate Lauches Texas "Vet Board Watch" Website

In every state, a Veterinary Board is tasked with receiving, reviewing, and -- as appropriate -- acting on consumer complaints of veterinary malpractice.  But many pet owners who have brought their allegations of veterinary malpractice to a State Veterinary Board believe that this system is made up of veterinary cronies who "protects bad vets, not the pets." 

Nowhere is this feeling more pervasive than in Texas, where 92% of consumer complaints were dismissed without action in 2006.   The Texas Vet Board's woeful record of dismissing consumer complaints long ago became painfully evident to Texas pet owners like Julie Catalano, Greg and Cindy Munson, Betty Garrity, Jack Wolfson and hundreds of others who -- just like them -- who had their cases dismissed by the Veterinary Board.  As a pet owner who has felt the awful pain of seeing a "once-in-a-lifetime" pet suffer as a result of the actions of a vet, I know that this must have felt like a slap in the face at a time when they were already grieving the loss of a beloved family member.

In the last year, the Texas Vet Board's history of dismissing consumer complaints earned it prime-time press attention, when  Dallas-area CBS affiliate KTVT ran a two-part series on veterinary malpractice in Texas and the alarming rate of case dismissals by the Texas Veterinary Board.

Now, veterinary consumer Greg Munson -- whose complaint against Texas veterinarian Ann Thomas regarding the treatment of his beloved dog Stempy was dismissed by the veterinary board -- has launched a new website dedicated to educating the pet owning public about the abysmal record of the Texas Vet Board.  This site, Texas Vet Board Watch, promises to serve as both a "Watch Dog" and "Watch Cat," monitoring the Vet Board's activities, turning up the heat on a regulatory body whose members have failed to merit the public trust placed in them, grieving owners say.   This site features the pictures of pets who died after alleged acts of veterinary malpractice and whose cases were dismissed by the Texas Veterinary Board.

For more information, visit the Texas Vet Board Watch site at:

The Toonces Project has filed public records requests to obtain the disciplinary records of the Texas Veterinary Board for the years 2005 and 2006.  These records are now available on our site.  (See  What we find nearly as disturbing as the high dismissal rate is the woefully inadequate action taken against the few veterinarians the Board "disciplines."  See for yourself how many cases in which the actions of the veterinarian either did or could have led to or contributed to the death or injury of a pet -- yet the only action taken by the board was an "informal" or "formal" reprimand. 

As we have said on this site before, we believe consumer action is the only way to change this sorry state of affairs.  We applaud the activities of Texas Vet Board Watch, and hope that it is just the first of many sites yet to come dedicated to tracking veterinary board activities at the individual state level.


Vets Sue to Silence Criticism!

Vets Sue to Silence Criticism:
A Toonces Project Editorial, by Stefani Olsen

Three veterinarians in two different states have sued their former clients for telling their stories on the Web.

These websites include the Veterinary Abuse Network (, the internet's largest resource site for pet owners concerned about the quality of care (or lack thereof) provided to their pets by veterinarians. At the time that I was preparing to file a complaint in Maryland against Marc Katz of Kindness Animal Hospital, the Vet Abuse Network site was invaluable to me as a resource for information about filing complaints with veterinary boards, and what kind of outcome I might expect. In fact, at that time it was one of a scarce few resources on the Web for consumers to find information on what to do in cases of suspected veterinary malpractice or malfeasance, information on how vets are regulated and by whom, where complaints can be filed, etc. This site has undoubtedly been an equally valuable resource to many pet owners seeking consumer information on veterinary quality concerns. Ms. Julie Catalano, a journalist, launched the site after her experiences with the Texas Veterinary Board. The Veterinary Abuse Network's mission is "To EDUCATE and SAVE—even if it means educating one companion animal guardian at a time, and helping them to save one companion animal at a time." Veterinarian Edward Nichols of Crestway Animal clinic, against whom Ms. Catalano filed a formal complaint, is suing Ms. Catalano for her account of her experiences with him as told on the site.

By the time Betty Garrity filed her complaint with the state board against veterinarian David Faulkner for his treatment of her beloved assistance animal, Bo Bo Bear, Dr. Faulkner already had a disciplinary record. Dr. Faulkner has filed a lawsuit against Ms. Garrity for telling her story on her website,

In North Carolina, veterinarian Kevin Monce was found by the State Veterinary Board in violation of several state statutes and Board rules as a result of the complaint filed by Nancy and Edna Deas, and fined $5,000 by the Board in that case. Now Dr. Monce is suing the Deas' sisters for statements made on their website,, regarding his "care" of their pets.

What do Julie Catalano, Betty Garrity, and Nancy and Edna Deas have in common
-- aside from maintaining websites on which they tell their accounts of bad experiences with a vet?

Well, for one thing, they all live in states with no protection from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits). SLAPP suits are typically filed by public officials, companies, or more powerful and monied individuals to silence the critical speech of other less powerful or less wealthy citizens on issues of public concern. Those who file SLAPP suits know that "freedom isn't free." Defending your free speech rights against someone with more power, money, or institutional support than you have is costly -- emotionally, financially, and in many other ways. SLAPP suits have a strategic purpose that goes beyond stifling the speech they specifically target. A SLAPP suit has a "chilling effect," silencing not only current critics, but future criticism as well. The message is: "Keep Your Mouth Shut, OR We Sue. We will make your speech very expensive for you."

Is it mere coincidence that three veterinarians have filed suits intended to silence criticism of their services on the internet? Or is it part of a coordinated campaign -- a strategy -- being employed by the veterinary industry to create a "chilling effect" so that no aggrieved client dare speak out about what happened to their pets at the vet?

A critical issue in defending a SLAPP suit is whether or not the speech in question is on a matter of public concern. Are dangers to our pets -- whether they be in the form of BAD vets, BAD food, or BAD medicines a matter of public concern?

The answer to this question is a no-brainer to anyone living in the 63 percent of all U.S. households that share their lives with a companion animal. I repeat: 63 percent.

There is no better evidence for this than the outrage and concern over the recent pet food contamination disaster. Numerous blog and websites have popped up devoted to tracking this issue, which threatens all of our companion animals. These sites -- which include,, and others -- keep pet guardians informed on the latest recalls, breaking news, so that they will be better able to protect their pets. This issue has been front and center in national news AND local news, the topic of editorials in publications with national circulation including USA Today.

But, you might ask, how important is it to name names on these sites? Isn't it enough merely to warn pet owners to be wary, and tell the story without identifying a specific veterinarian(s)?

Well, I ask you: How helpful would it be to you if an alert was issued telling you that there was pet food out there on the store shelves contaminated with melamine and rat poison, and that you might even be feeding it to your pets right now -- but no one would tell you which brands were known or suspected to be adulterated?

Without "naming names" of suspected or known contaminated food, how many MORE dead and sick pets would there be in addition to the untold thousands that there already are?

I rest my case.

Websites like the those being sued today provide information to pet owners that they can use to help keep their pets safe. What you as a pet owner do with information and statements of opinion that appear on these sites is your business. You may choose to ignore, or act on, information you read there. But you alone are the decision maker for your pet, and when your pet's life may be at stake, your powers of discernment as you review statements made by others -- whether they be about vets or pet food -- are critical. Your pets life depends on your judgment.

Oh, and there is one more thing that Julie Catalano and Betty Garrity have in common: Both of their complaints against the veterinarians were dismissed. But then, they aren't alone. That's an outcome shared by approximately 90% of the pet owners who file complaints against vets in Texas -- including Greg Munson -- whose story was featured by CBS affiliate KTVT in their coverage of this issue. (Mr. Munson, who also has a website which tells his account of bad experiences with vet Ann K. Thomas, has not been sued.) In their coverage (which aired with the banner, "Bad Vets") KTVT reported that in 2006, the Texas Vet Board received 212 consumer complaints against veterinarians in 2006 -- yet disciplined only 17. That's 8%. KTVT noted that this low disciplinary rate is "prompting calls for reform on how the board does business," and quoted Fort Worth attorney Philip Gregory as commenting: "You need to have a veterinary board that is willing to actually listen to the consumer."

Do you believe that the 92% of vets against whom complaints were filed but who were not disciplined are all good vets who did nothing wrong simpy because the State Vet Board -- a government body composed primarily of fellow veterinarians -- didn't discipline them?

If you do, then you probably also believe that only 16 pets have died from the contaminated food because the FDA, a government agency, says so.

Do you trust governmental bodies to protect our pets? Look at the track record, it speaks for itself.

Only you can protect your pet. Sad, but true. So when you read accounts of vet care gone bad, whether on this site or other sites, be discerning. Remember, you HAVE CHOICES when it comes to what to feed your pet. And you HAVE CHOICES when it comes to seeking veterinary care, too.

For more on SLAPP suits and our first amendment rights, visit

For more information on Texas' woeful veterinary disciplinary record, view the recent news coverage on this topic:

"Pet Owners Claim Vet Malpractice Killed Dogs" --

"Pet Owners Fight for Better Animal Health Care" --

For information on another case dismissed by the Texas Board, visit Stempy's site, at

To visit sites whose owners are being sued by their former veterinarians:

The Vet Abuse Network --
Bo Bo Bear's Site --
Aligus --

Alleged Abusive Vet Thomas Sheridan Leaves South Carolina Aquarium

On May 4, 2007, South Carolina station WCBD ran a story announcing that Dr. Sheridan had RESIGNED his position at the South Carolina Aquarium. Dr. SHERIDAN IS NO LONGER working for the SC Aquarium! Thanks to all who signed the online petition asking the aquarium to fire Dr. Sheridan!  The petition is still online and the link and the original text that appeared here announcing it is below. Readers are reminded that yet an additional complaint has been filed against Dr. Sheridan by the State Veterinary Board over his care of a patient. Dr. Sheridan continues to run a private practice.

[Dr. Thomas Sheridan] ". . . used excessive force when he grabbed the animal and threw the animal onto its side several times after which he kneeled on the animal and pulled its head backwards and squeezed its neck and snout until the animal was out of breath . . . he cursed at the animal . . . "

(Source: Findings of Fact, State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners of South Carolina, regarding South Carolina veterinarian Thomas Sheridan)

Are the animals at the Charleston, South Carolina aquarium safe in the hands of Thomas Sheridan? The subject of the website,, Dr. Thomas Sheridan was ordered by the State Veterinary Board to undergo a "psychological assessment" and enroll in Anger Management classes.

What does the State Board know that the unsuspecting dolphins at the aquarium don't? Do they think Dr. Sheridan is crazy? Dangerously crazy?

The incident described in the board findings isn't the only one described by those who know Dr. Sheridan. The following recounting appears In an August 2000 article in the Post and Courier:

"[the former employee said that Dr. Sheridan] "slammed the cat's head against the surgical table, pulled its tongue out too far, and pressed on its body too hard during treatment to remove an abcessed tooth. . . . The five-year old cat, Ande, died after the procedure . . . " A necropsy done by the ASPCA found that Ande's tongue had been punctured by a tooth, and that his liver was lacerated.

In August, 2000, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office arrested Sheridan, and charged him with professional misconduct for the abuse of animals under his care. But guess what happened?

The magistrate through the case out, because state law says that veterinarian's cannot be charged for actions taken while they are doing a "medical procedure."

The animals at the aquarium -- and all animals -- deserve better.

Visit for more information, and sign our petition here.