Fort Worth vet arrested on suspicion of cruelty to animals

04/30/2014 12:36 PM

05/01/2014 11:25 AM

The west-side veterinarian accused of keeping a dog alive for use in blood transfusions was arrested Wednesday on a warrant accusing him of cruelty to animals, Fort Worth police said.

Millard Lucien Tierce, 71, turned himself in about 7 p.m. at the Tarrant County Jail and was released on $10,000 bail, officials said.

Earlier Wednesday at his clinic, Tierce, known as Lou, denied the accusation, saying a former employee was trying to get back at him.

It’s “all a bunch of hooey,” said Tierce, owner of the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic in west Fort Worth.

An Aledo couple had filed the complaint with Fort Worth police, saying that their ailing dog was supposed to be euthanized but that Tierce kept it alive without their knowledge and used it for transfusions.

Acting on the complaint, Fort Worth police and officers from the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners raided the clinic Tuesday and seized two dogs.

“After the inspection and preliminary investigation, Millard Tierce, DVM, was arrested,” the police news release said. “There are no new details at this time.”

Standing in the clinic’s crowded lobby Wednesday morning, Tierce said: “The lady wanted me to euthanize their dog, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

He denied wrongdoing. “The lady has her dog back. A year later, the dog is still alive and walking around,” he said.

A disgruntled employee, Mary Brewer, is behind the accusations, Tierce said. “She wanted to get me,” he said.

Brewer said she quit her job because animals were being mistreated.

“I knew the truth, and I quit because of it,” she said. “I’d had enough. Right is right and wrong is wrong.”

Jamie and Marian Harris of Aledo say Tierce told them that Sid, their 5-year-old Leonberger, was euthanized last fall because of a degenerative spinal condition.

But Marian Harris said she got a phone call April 22 from Brewer and was shocked to learn that Sid was alive and had been used for transfusions.

The family hired an attorney and filed a complaint with the state veterinary board that day. A criminal complaint was also filed with Fort Worth police, alleging animal mistreatment.

Brewer said she contacted the Harrises because “I felt I had to let those people know that I couldn’t protect their dog anymore.”

She didn’t immediately tell them about Sid because she feared for her job, she said.

“I kept quiet for a long time because no one wants to lose their job. I needed the paycheck. I had bills to pay,” Brewer said.

Standing behind Tierce

Clients of Tierce rallied behind the doctor Wednesday, saying he goes out of his way to care for pets.

Johnny Morrison of Fort Worth said he has taken pets to Tierce for over 30 years. He said he arrived early one morning at the clinic and saw Tierce’s wife carrying clothes inside because the doctor had stayed the night to care for animals.

“I would wait for two hours to see Dr. Tierce,” Morrison said. “He’s as good as you’re going to get.”

Another longtime client, Daniella Judge, praised Tierce for his hard work but acknowledged that he is a little eccentric.

“He risks losing patients because of his behavior,” she said. “He’s chewed me out before about my pets.”

She said she left her cat at the clinic for two weeks and saw no problems.

“It’s not the cleanest place, but the cages and surgical bays are clean,” she said. “That’s what I care about.”

‘We must get closure’

Other clinic clients want answers.

James Eggleston, the Harrises’ attorney, said he knows of three other Tierce clients who filed complaints with the state veterinary board Wednesday.

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, she said.

“We must get closure on this! I want to know what happened to our beloved family dog,” according to the complaint.

Another client contacted the Star-Telegram after learning of the raid.

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.

“We were not charged; that was a red flag to me,” Flores said.

Details on the third new complaint were unavailable Wednesday night.

Saying their goodbyes

The Harrises brought Sid to the clinic in May 2013 when Sid developed a problem with his anal glands.

According to the complaint filed with the veterinary board, Tierce told the Harrises that he wanted to use a new “cold laser” procedure and that it might take longer than usual for the dog to recover.

In September, Jamie Harris went to Tierce’s clinic to see Sid and was shocked when the dog had to drag himself into the lobby because he could not lift his hindquarters, according to the complaint. Jamie Harris was told that Sid was having a reaction to a medication cocktail.

The Harrises were also told that Sid had a congenital spinal defect and needed to be put down. The family said its goodbyes to Sid and agreed to let the clinic take care of the burial.

Six months later, Marian Harris said, she received the call from Brewer, telling her that Sid was alive.

The Harrises returned to the clinic and removed Sid, and he is now at home with the family in Aledo.

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