Fort Worth veterinarian seeks settlement with board

08/19/2014 11:07 AM

08/19/2014 1:08 PM

A Fort Worth veterinarian accused of keeping pets alive after telling owners they were euthanized has apparently offered a settlement to the state veterinary board in the matter of his suspended license.

The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners canceled an Aug. 25 hearing on Dr. Millard Lou Tierce’s license and is now scheduled to discuss the proposed settlement on Oct. 21.

Information about the settlement will not be available until the meeting, when the board is scheduled to vote whether to accept it, according to court documents filed late last week with the state Office of Administrative Hearings.

Tierce’s license was suspended in May after he was arrested April 30 on suspicion of animal cruelty.

Nicole Oria, executive director of the veterinary board, said she could not confirm or deny that a settlement was reached.

Patty Tillman, an attorney who represents Tierce, declined to comment about the settlement.

Oria said a suspension means the veterinarian cannot practice medicine, diagnose or write prescriptions, but can still own a practice. If the license were revoked, the veterinarian could not own a practice, but could apply for another license in five years.

Tierce has not been formally charged in the case.

He was arrested a day after investigators from the veterinary board and Fort Worth police raided the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic and reported finding animals living in filthy, unsanitary conditions. They also found, among other things, animal organs in jars, trash, insects and controlled substances left out in the open and unsecured.

In April, Marian and Jamie Harris of Aledo filed a complaint with the veterinary board against Tierce after a former employee of the clinic told them that their 4-year-old Leonberger, Sid, was still alive although the family thought he had been euthanized.

The Harrises had taken the dog to the clinic with a minor anal gland problem, but Tierce told them he had a congenital degenerative spinal condition and needed further treatment. The complaint described how Sid was used for blood transfusions.

The Harrises are suing Tierce, seeking $1 million in damages.

Marian Harris said Tuesday that Sid is improving, and he is undergoing physical therapy and swimming every day to strengthen his hind quarters.

His therapy also involves using an underwater treadmill and a special ball.

While at Tierce’s clinic, Sid also developed mange, but his fur has grown back, Harris said.

“Sid looks like a different dog now, and he still has his sweet disposition,” she said.

Videos and documents obtained by the Star-Telegram in an open records request to the veterinary board showed conditions investigators found when they raided the clinic April 29.

Another pet owner, Kimberly Davis of Dallas is also suing Tierce for more than $1 million in damages after learning that her chihuahua, Hercules, had been kept alive after she thought he was euthanized. In her lawsuit, Davis alleges that Hercules was kept alive and used for medical experiments.

During the hearing in May before several veterinary board members, Tierce was asked by his attorney, Don Ferrell, why he kept jars of animal organs throughout the clinic. Tierce responded that he knew that he had kept them for too long.

“I'm a hoarder,” he said. His parents survived the Great Depression and never threw anything out, and “it’s my nature,” Tierce said.

He said he knew he needed to purge the clinic of clutter, but, “truth is, I don’t particularly care to manage. I’d much rather do surgery and care for my patients.”

Tierce also admitted that he used Sid once for a blood transfusion.

During the hearing, he also said he did not carry out the Harris family’s wishes to euthanize Sid, explaining that he treats animals at his clinic like family. But he acknowledged his error.

“I have no right to interfere with that ownership,” he said. He said from now on, if he disagrees with owners, he’ll ask them to take their pet elsewhere.

Tierce said he worked hard on continuing education so that he could perform state-of-the-art surgical procedures.

He enjoys performing orthopedic surgery and wanted to be “on the cutting edge of the cutting edge.”

Tierce had detractors, but he also had many supporters — about 50 people attended the hearing on his behalf. Many also signed a petition in support of Tierce, who has practiced since 1966.

Talia Lydick told the Star-Telegram that she has taken dogs to Tierce for 30 years. One of her dogs was paralyzed, but after being treated by Tierce, it was healed, she said.

This article includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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