Controversial Ex-BARC Vet Accused Of Botching Surgeries (With Graphic Photos)
A veterinarian who left the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care after he was caught dispensing controlled substances without proper registration is now accused of botching routine surgeries on four kittens last week at his new job at a low-cost clinic.
Marie Melancon told Hair Balls that two of her kittens died, and two were gravely injured, after David Rundell spayed them at Spay Houston. (Four others are apparently fine). Her complaint is not the first time Rundell has been accused of incompetence during routine procedures on cats: in 2007, BARC's head vet "recommended that the BARC bureau chief suspend Rundell's surgical privileges for botching three surgeries on cats that month," according to a 2009 Houston Chronicle story. "Rundell had spayed the cats that month, and their internal organs later began leaking out....the cats were euthanized."
Former BARC Spokeswoman Kathy Barton told the Chron, for the same story, that Rundell's surgical privileges were temporarily suspended in 2005 or 2006, but she would not disclose details. The Chron also reported that, after those botched surgeries, rescue group Friends of BARC did not want Rundell to fix any animals the group intended on fostering or adopting out.
Melancon told us in an e-mail that an autopsy conducted by her primary vet "showed that [one kitten's] bladder had been cut open during the spay surgery and left that way. My vet says [it] could have been sewn back and that [it] is impossible for that vet to have not known he did it because urine starts spilling out immediately."
Melancon said she sent the other kitten's body to Texas A&M's vet school for an autopsy and is including the results in a complaint she intends to file with the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medicine, but she declined to disclose the contents of the report.
Two other kittens have fist-sized bruises on their rear sides and "will likely require skin grafts," Melancon told us. She also stated that her vet "says they are bleeding out internally because their parts were not properly cut out and tied off during the neuter, and [he] says he cannot reverse it at this point."
Rundell started as a relief wellness vet at Spay Houston 6-8 months ago, Spay Houston Director Deana Sellens told Hair Balls. He started full time approximately three months ago.
She said she checked all of Rundell's references, including BARC. Although she said she could not remember who she spoke to there, she says she was told he did not leave the shelter for surgical reasons. Which technically is true; he gave Valium to a dog when he was not authorized by the state to do so. He was not fired for complaints that, in one month, he botched three routine procedures.
"I actually spoke to BARC...they had no issue with his surgeries," Sellens said. (She also said she was unaware of any news coverage or other complaints of his history with cats, which is extraordinary, since Sellens herself is personally active in cat rescue, and news -- especially the bad kind -- travels quickly within the Houston animal rescue community).
"We have nothing to hide, and I personally am the one that asked for the bodies to be sent to A&M so we can get a true findings report," Sellens said. "If I find that Dr. Rundell has been negligent, he will not be doing surgery at our clinic anymore."
Sellens said this is the first complaint of Rundell she's received and that her customers have praised his work. She said that Rundell told her that, in the past, "he had some problems with some bad sutures" and that he's "very particular" about the brand of sutures he uses.
"He's very rescue-friendly," Sellens said. "...he does everything he can to help; I mean, he's made donations out of his own pocket to cover medicine when people can't afford it. He's really been very good with out customers."
Rundell was not available for comment.
We've included four photos of the two surviving kittens; two from shortly after their June 4 operations, and two taken on June 9. One of the photos is particularly disturbing. Sellens told us that she's seen the pics and has requested that the cats go to a third-party clinic for comprehensive exams.
"I swear on my life there is nothing in this clinic that could cause that kind of damage to cats," she said.
On June 9:
On June 9:
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- Texas Threatens To Sue Resettlement Groups For Helping Syrian Refugees
- Rice Owls Win the Finale and Defeat Cynicism
- Ted Cruz and the Radical Anti-Abortion Movement