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State veterinary board seeks answers from Manchester emergency clinic founder

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 06. 2018 11:20AM
Stacey White launched a Facebook campaign over the death of her pit bull Johnny. (COURTESY)

The founder of emergency veterinary clinics in Manchester and Concord goes before the state Board of Veterinary Medicine next week to answer five complaints about her practice, which include forcing patients to surrender their pets if they cannot afford surgery.

The two days of hearings will focus on Dr. Deborah Kelloway, owner of the Advanced Veterinary Care clinics, which offer emergency-room like services for pets.

Kelloway said none of the allegations are true. She seeks surrender, she said, when she believes a pet will return to a home where it could be harmed or neglected. In other cases, the owners prefer euthanasia over an expensive procedure, she said. Meanwhile, a nonprofit entity associated with AVC tries to raise money on behalf of the pets.

“It’s vindictive,” Kelloway said of the complaints against her. “None of it is true. It’s frivolous, vindictive, online trolling.”

The board has scheduled hearings for Feb. 13 and 15 to consider complaints from 2013 to 2016.

In a notice of the hearing, the board gave details of five cases. It said the potential violations include pressuring clients to surrender their animals, allowing an unlicensed veterinarian to work at her practice, failing to ensure that computerized records are locked down after 24 hours, withholding an ultrasound report for payment, and misleading clients about AVC’s ability to provide emergency care.

“I think it’s great they are taking it seriously,” said Stacey White, who launched a Facebook campaign over the death of her pit bull. She said she has also sued the state Consumer Protection Bureau and police departments in Manchester and Hooksett in connection with the case.

Hers is one of five cases listed in a notice of the Veterinary Board hearing about Kelloway. White said she has been subpoenaed as a witness.

Here is a rundown of the five cases, according to a state notice:

• A veterinarian who sent a dog to AVC in May 2016 for an ultrasound did not receive a fax of the ultrasound report for nine days. Allegations include that AVC would not write up the report until the owner, identified as Mrs. Berube, paid for the test. AVC eventually recommended a $2,000 surgery, and Berube surrendered the dog because she could not pay for the surgery. The dog died shortly afterward.

• Lorry and Paul Anderson were unable to afford a $1,000 surgery to clear a urinary obstruction of their cat, Fenny. They surrendered the cat and could not get her back, even after offering to make monthly payments. Fenny was renamed Tiny and adopted out.

• A pet named Butters showed up for emergency care in October 2015. Two veterinarians on duty did not feel comfortable providing care and referred the animal to a practice an hour away. The delay caused Butter’s bladder to burst.

• White brought her pit bull Johnny to AVC in May 2016, seeking treatment and monitoring following surgery at another practice. White believed AVC offered advanced care, but the veterinarian on duty was “fairly inexperienced,” did not order appropriate tests and felt uncomfortable performing surgery, the notice reads.

• In August 2013, the veterinary board warned Kelloway that she could be in violation of veterinary medical ethics. The board had received a complaint from an unnamed client who was pressured to surrender her cat to get treatment.

GoFundMe campaigns

Kelloway said she requires owners to surrender pets for a number of reasons.

In some cases, clients tell her to euthanize an animal who needs an expensive procedure. Other times, she believes an animal will not be properly cared for, and the owner will return in a week or two for another round of treatment.

Kelloway said there’s little that can be done for animals in such a case. Police won’t do anything, she said. And the Board of Veterinary Medicine doesn’t like her finding homes and raising money for the pets.

“The reality is there is a lot of pressure in our industry to euthanize, put them in a freezer, but the public doesn’t want us to do that,” Kelloway said. “The state needs to step up to the plate and help us deal with this.”

AVC founded a non-profit, All Better Pets, which finds homes for the surrendered animals. It also raises money for them on Three recent GoFundMe pages seek $600 each for three cats.

“On January 14, a scared and sick 7-year-old male cat was brought into the ER to be euthanized. Fortunately his owner had a change of heart and he chose to surrender him to All Better Pets,” reads one.

The notice of the hearings can be viewed below:

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