No doubt many of Houston's animal-advocacy community are up in arms over this morning's Chron story on BARC's head vet, Eunice Ohashiegbula-Iwunze, who had her license suspended in New Jersey.
But we at Hair Balls were a little more understanding - really, who hasn't accidentally killed people's dogs on three separate occasions? God - why should gross incompetence be a barrier to a primo spot in the animal shelter of the nation's fourth largest city? Look - BARC hired Jackie Merchant, a dude who was convicted in 1996 of aggravated sexual assault of an 11-year-old. See? We all make mistakes. It's actually big of the City of Houston to give these people taxpayer-funded jobs.
But what got Hair Balls a little worried was the stuff that the Chron missed: Ohashiegbula-Iwunze had actually been reprimanded on another occasion by the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
That was in 2001, three years before the oops-dead-dogs incidents described in the 2004 consent order.
The 2001 consent order, in which "Dr. O" paid $774 in fines, declared that the vet:
prepared inadequate patient records in that vaccination records had no expiration dates, and certificates contained conflicting information; she failed to establish acceptable patient/client/veterinarian relationships; she maintained no patient records in her possession; she conducted inadequate physical examinations in that [she] admits that animals were not weighed at the non-prototype clinics although heartword medications were given which require the weight of the animals; there were no controls in place to insure that pharmaceuticals were kept at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer; and she had no branch office license displayed at one [clinic] location.
We understand that everyone makes mistakes, and if you practice medicine for long enough, there will be blunders.
But, from a PR perspective, the City of Houston -- to borrow a clinical veterinary term -- really screwed the pooch on this one. You want to show the residents of your city that you care about how animals at the city-run shelter are treated? Well, you might want to start by hiring a head vet who didn't get reprimanded two times in three years. Just a little free advice from Hair Balls, yo.
-- Craig Malisow
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