Last Update: 4/26/2013 4:37:00 PM
Pocono area vet faces animal cruelty charges
A Middle Smithfield Township veterinarian is being tried on multiple counts of not controlling, supervising or keeping safe dogs in his care.
Clair "Doc PAWSitive" Thompson, owner of Pocono Animal Wellness Services on Route 209, is undergoing summary trials that began April 19 and will continue in late May before Marshalls Creek Magisterial District Judge Brian Germano.
After receiving a March 2012 complaint about one of Thompson's dogs fatally mauling another, Officer Liz Anderson with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals visited PAWS, interviewed Thompson and saw his 10 dogs' conditions. These dogs had been found abandoned and brought to him, while one dog had been too aggressive for the previous owner.
10 dogs, 10 trials
Anderson said the dogs showed injuries, signs of neglect and/or emaciation. She returned a week later to take the dogs into SPCA custody. Two had to be euthanized, several others have been placed in foster care and the remaining are still at the SPCA's Philadelphia shelter.
Rather than having one trial, Germano is having a separate trial on each of the 10 dogs, saying, "Each dog and each case is different."
Thompson is represented by attorney Jeffrey Conrad. Anderson is prosecuting the case herself, which SPCA officers do when there are too many animal cruelty/neglect cases for district attorneys' offices to prosecute.
The dogs whose cases were tried April are adult rottweilers, Stanley and Stella, and adult American bulldog, Floyd.
Thompson is accused of not immediately treating a wound Stanley got behind his ear during a fight with another dog in Thompson's care. Thompson is accused also of not doing enough to get the emaciated dog back up to an ideal weight.
Witnesses gave conflicting testimony on exactly when Stanley was brought to Thompson, but said it was sometime in January 2012 and that the dog weighed less than 30 pounds at the time.
Anderson said Stanley's dog fight wound was still open and exposed when she visited PAWS March 10, 2012, and again when she returned a week later to take Stanley and the other dogs from Thompson. She said Stanley weighed 55.8 pounds at the time.
The SPCA performed surgery to close and treat Stanley's wound and placed him on a careful "refeeding" schedule until he gradually reached a more ideal 80-pound weight, according to testimony from veterinarians Joelle Bruinooge and Michael Moyer.
When asked why he didn't perform immediate surgery to close Stanley's wound, Thompson said experience has taught him not to try closing a wound of that type. Instead, he said he used warm-water hydrotherapy to clean out the wound, gave Stanley other forms of treatment and placed him on a refeeding schedule different from the SPCA's.
In Floyd's case, Thompson is accused of placing an electric-shock collar, used to make dogs with behavior problems less aggressive, too tightly on Floyd's neck. Anderson and Bruinooge said the collar was so tight its prongs left marks on Floyd's neck, though those prong marks weren't visible in the picture shown in court.
Thompson said he had made the collar snug enough, but not too tight, and that Floyd never showed any signs of choking. He said it's not unusual for a comfortably snug collar to leave such a mark on a dog's neck.
Thompson is accused again of not doing enough to get the emaciated Stella up to an ideal weight and not adequately treating her for parasites and other ailments.
Anderson asked Thompson why he waited until after her initial visit to his office to remove a mass on Stella's mammary when he should have done so earlier. He said he just happened to do it after her initial visit.
According to testimony, one of Thompson's clients found Stella wandering in the road and, after making phone calls to 911, the Animal Welfare Society of Monroe shelter and other places, brought her to Thompson, who took Stella in when no one else would. Thompson said he treated Stella for Lyme disease, heartworm and other ailments while the client who had found her brought food for her.
"I work with aggressive animals," Thompson said after the first of the trials. "Some people have a problem with my unconventional style and twist and take things out of context."
?2013 the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.
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