Having to put your pet to sleep is one of the most heartbreaking things one can do. For one family, the experience became even more heartbreaking when they learned that their vet may have literally been bleeding their family pet dry, using the dog for blood transfusions after recommending the family have the animal euthanized.
Doctor Millard Lucien Tierce, the veterinarian in question, owns one of Fort Worth's most popular animal clinics, one that many families trusted with the lives of their pets.It's the clinic that Jamie and Marian Harris brought their 5-year-old Leonberger Sid to for help when the dog developed an issue with his anal gland. The family reports that after treatment, Sid had trouble walking. That's when Dr. Tierce allegedly told them that Sid had a spinal condition that would only worsen with age and suggested that the dog be euthanized to prevent further discomfort. The family agreed to have the dog buried on the clinic's property and, after saying goodbye, left Sid in the care of the staff.
Six months later, the Harrises received a disturbing phone call from Mary Brewer, a technician at the clinic. According to her, Sid was alive and living in horrible conditions, being used for blood transfusions while spending most of the day in a cage surrounded by his own urine and feces.
"I told her, 'He's still here,' and she's like, 'Can he walk?' and I said, 'Yeah, he's here waiting on you. If you came today, he'd walk out and jump in your car,'" said Brewer.
"It was like getting punched in the stomach and then some," said Marian Harris. "This has rocked our world. My kids are like, 'How does somebody do this?' How does this happen?"
And why did it take so long for someone to call? There are so many questions here, but it's physically painful to think about Sid being separated from his family and then being tortured by a trusted member of the animal care community. And tortured is exactly the right word for what happened to Sid. According to veterinarians who have been working with him since he was freed, he "has mange, shows definite signs of being used for blood transfusions and shows evidence of being 'abusively kenneled.'"
Dr. Tierce turned himself in on Wednesday and is out on $10,000 bond. He claims that these accusations are "a bunch of hooey" and that Brewer is a disgruntled employee who wanted to bring down his practice. He also claims that the Harrises left their dog to be euthanized with no such recommendation on his part.
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.
Tierce's statement, however, doesn't explain why the dog was kept in such awful conditions and why he had been used for blood transfusions instead of being given to a shelter or a rescue group for rehoming. Other clients of the clinic are now concerned that their animals may be alive too, and, according to the local NBC affiliate, many have been calling or coming in with the hope that they might see their animal again as well. Others in the community are standing up for the doctor. One client had this to say: "It's not the cleanest place, but the cages and surgical bays are clean," she said. "That's what I care about."
The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the Tarrant County Health Department are now also involved in the case.
Screen cap via NBCD Fort Worth.