April 26, 2016

Seventeen years of advocacy


April 26, 2016--Seventten years ago today, my life changed forever. Like so many other victims of veterinary neglect, incompetence, malpractice, and abuse, I always say that in some ways, my life ended -- at  least life as I knew it.  Almost to a person, fellow victims agree: My life will never be the same. 

Every year I look back and look forward.  I think of the events leading up to her horrendous death, and wonder yet again, How did this happen? 

It happened because I trusted a vet--an unconscionable lowlife by the name of Edward J. Nichols, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, whose REAL history I did not know. If I had done my homework on this soulless freak before he killed Suki instead of after, obviously he wouldn't have been anywhere near her or me. 

It happened because I learned things from four second opinion vets too late to help Suki--vets who knew, in the words of one, of the "poor care" that Suki had received from Nichols, the things he did to her that should have never been done, and the laundry list of things he should have done and didn't. Suki's new primary vet was positive that the board would get Nichols. All four vets knew there was no defense for what Nichols had done. 

And most of all, it happened because we had the terrible misfortune to land in the hands of a truly vile monster -- a "doctor"  who had absolutely NO respect for Suki's life or for my decisions as her SOLE guardian. 

This monster, this sick freak, performed unauthorized surgery under dangerous anesthesia on her without my knowledge or consent--he put her in an induction box and gassed her with halothane and nitrous oxide with no presurgical labwork--did not administer IV fluids to a dying, dehydrated body, and could not even be bothered to keep accurate or complete records on her.

 He then left her in a cage alone, dying, pumped full of dex, no IV fluids, no potassium, and not a single notification to me of her true condition. He knew she was dying--he wrote the words "multiple organ shutdown" on her chart that last day--and deliberately kept that information from me as Suki's precious life ebbed away. When I went to get her, trying to make sense of why or how my cat with a  history of CNS disorder had been put under anesthesia without my knowledge or consent, he instructed me to "Take her home and be with her." Giving me the order "Dont put her in a hostpial. It's cold and impersonal and you don't want it to happen that way."

And then -- in acts of almost incomprehensible cowardice and arrogance, Nichols not only blamed me for what happened  (plus his mother, his staff, the vet he bought Crestway from, and "the state of our society")  and dodged ALL accountability at the state board level  when the sole reviewing vet ignored every single piece of evidence of numerous violations of the standard of care. he then came after me with lawyers to try to silence me from telling what he had done to my cat

My cat. Not his. Mine. 

The deceitful and despicable Edward J.  Nichols belongs  to a subset of veterinary brethren every bit as arrogant, dishonest, incompetent and negligent as he is--posing, preening, playing the victim, and rewriting history in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of truth. Truth that will steamroll over Ed Nichols and his ilk til the end of time, until they finally sink under the weight of their own toxic arrogance, whining and blathering to the end about how everyone else--including competent vets who tried to fix the hideous damage done to an innocent animal--is either crazy, lying, stupid, or wrong. 

But thanks to Suki and countless others, things are changing

It's taken 17 years--16 of them online--but hundreds of consumer advocates and their educational web sites are helping to promote awareness to an increasingly savvy public that is learning not to blindly hand over their trust and their pets to known BadVets. Vets who may have a hell of a "nice guy" act, but whose atrocities have been exposed through documentation, facts, and proof of what they did.  

There are still obstacles of course: 

Veterinary board systems that are woefully inadequate in stopping the worst of these monsters.

An archaic legal system that gives vets the upper hand by classifying pets as mere property.

Worse, a BadVet's cadre of sadistic groupies who never pass up an opportunity to go after a veterinary victims in ways that range from cowardly to contemptible, relegating anguished pet guardians to mentally unstable, lying, crazy, "disgruntled" people with "grief issues." 

Every time I read yet another hateful snipe by anonymous, soulless cowards mocking, slandering, threatening, and ridiculing victims and the animals who suffered and died at the hands of their little vet "friends" whom they adamantly defend, I smile and think, Good. Everyone has loved ones--children, grandchildren, elderly, disabled, and yes, even their own pets--all of whom at one time or will be helpless and trusting in the hands of people in positions of trust. Good. Maybe they'll think of Suki and so many others like her. 

There are bright spots, however, and that's what we need to focus on to overcome the cruelty, callousness, apathy and arrogance of the worst of the veterinary profession and the state boards who protect them. In Texas, for example, fellow advocates like Greg Munson have made significant strides in reporting the shenanigans at the state board level at the Texas Vet Board Watch site, or posting  public disciplinary records online  when the Texas board decided arbitrarily to remove vital information that the public has the right to know. 

 Where I was alone in Texas 16 years ago, there are now other advocates speaking up and speaking out about the shameful inadequacies in the system, and helping to change it no matter how hard  the vets and their lawyers fight to keep the status quo. 

It is an honor to stand beside these advocates to effect real change in systems that may be designed to protect vets, but our voices will always speak up to protect pets. In addition, thanks to diligent First Amendment advocates, Texas now has significant antiSLAPP legislation designed to stop rich, arrogant, whining, bully vets who use bully lawyers to bully innocent victims into a legal hell only to run like cowards when it comes time to face a judge or jury. No more. 

Veterinary boards and their abuse of political and economic power and privilege have always been a focus of this site. The public has the right to know when systems fail so miserably, are so broken and so flawed, that they demand to be fixed to save our pets' lives. We have the right to know exactly when, where, and how these systems are not protecting our pets. 

I couldn't protect Suki from a monster with a good act. Everything I had done to protect my companion from every harm, making every decision with her in mind, getting her EVERY medical treatment she ever needed or was ever recommended by ANY vet ANYwhere -- it all meant nothing when this vile "doctor" did whatever he wanted, depriving her of treatments and injecting her with steroids, and when it became apparent that she was outsmarting him, stuffing her in a box and gassing her with anesthesia that the experts confirmed sent her into an irrevocable decline. To this day, NO vet anywhere has been able to explain Ed Nichols inexplicable and completely insane mistreatment of my cat. NOT ONE. 

And when Suki's case never made it to the board, I had to watch vile Texas vet board member Martin E. Garcia DVM--this case NEVER went to hearing--smirk, ignore evidence, and give his sleazy little friend Nichols a free pass on his countless lies because as Garcia said, "This is an old cat." A smarmy, worthless "doctor" chose to protect another smarmy, worthless "doctor" rather than enforce the professional standard of humane care. There is no age limit beyond which the professional standard of humane treatment does not apply--unless you're unlucky enough to have a "doctor" who takes away your choices through deception, dishonesty, and complete disregard for the laws of his own profession.  

That's why I do what I do -- what all citizen advocates do -- to help prevent this type of unnecessary tragedy from happening to others at the hands of arrogant, negligent, incompetent and abusive vets who think they can do whatever they want with no accountability.  

Smart consumers are making smarter choices, which is driving control freak vets like Ed Nichols crazier than they already are. Hopefully with time, the dinosaurs in the profession will eventually vanish, unable or unwilling to accept the fact that they are no longer in complete control of what people discover, read, and learn on their own. MadVets--the exasperated grumblers who can no longer bully or control an increasingly educated and interconnected public--will be every bit as exposed as BadVets. Throughout it all, consumers will get smarter and savvier at separating the quacks-with-an-act from competent, ethical practitioners.

Many, many, MANY thanks to so many who have contacted me and other advocates with messages of hope and  encouragement. Your friendship and support have been beyond overwhelming, and I'm especially grateful to veterinarians who get it, who know exactly what was done to Suki and who have repeatedly corroborated the horror that was inflicted on her. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Most of all, I thank Suki  for being the strongest, bravest, and most amazing companion a human could ever have. I miss her every day of my life. If you had known this extraordinary cat, then you would know why I will never stop fighting, will never stop exposing the truth about lying vets and the lying liars who support them, why I will never forget, and why I will never be silenced. As I have said from the beginning: 

I stand by all original material on this site. It is protected under the freedom of speech, the First Amendment, and the greatest protection of all -- the TRUTH. 

--Julie  Catalano

From Suki's Story:

"Here is what I get to live with for the rest of my life: Edward J. Nichols, DVM, putting Suki into an induction box where she had to inhale halothane and nitrous oxide while I knew nothing about it. Ed Nichols extracting a tooth without my permission or even having the simple human decency to inform me of anything he was doing to her. Ed Nichols not giving Suki IV fluids after recording “v. dehydrated” on her chart. The unbearable and eternal agony of now knowing Suki lay dying, dehydrated in a cage, at Crestway Animal Clinic, while I had no idea at the time. And these horrifying events are only the tip of the iceberg.

And finally, the most bone-chilling knowledge of all: Had Suki not lived long enough to be seen by second opinion vets, I would have never known what had been happening. I must repeat this so you understand: Had Suki died at any time at Crestway Animal Clinic, at home with me, or during the four weeks of March 22 and April 19, 1999, before I got her to other vets  – I would have never known what really happened to Suki. As it is, I will never really know how much she might have suffered, but I do know that my grief and pain will never end.

Don’t ever lull yourself into thinking that this can’t happen to you. I would have said the same thing before I was forced to live through this nightmare. 

My only hope is that Suki’s Story helps somebody reading these words.  If only one pet guardian learns something from what happened here, if only one animal is helped by any of this, if only one veterinarian makes the ethical choice to treat our companions as the family members that they are, then my brave and beautiful Suki did not die in vain."  

- From Suki's Story

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." - Leonardo da Vinci


A letter to Suki


 August 5, 1979 - April 26, 1999