FORT WORTH, Texas — A Fort Worth veterinarian arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty admitted to state investigators that he kept five dogs alive after their owners left them to be euthanized — including one that was caged for two to three years.
Millard Lucien “Lou” Tierce said he believed the decision was his and not the owners’, state documents say.
Investigators who raided the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic on Tuesday found unsanitary and what one vet called “deplorable” conditions. Animal organs stored in jars throughout the clinic. Open and unsecured medications. Exam rooms littered with stacks of drugs, trash, laundry and paperwork. And bugs.
Three dogs at the clinic were in “such decrepit shape” that they had to be euthanized. Two of those, Tierce admitted to investigators, had been left at his clinic to be euthanized.
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The third, a black-and-white border collie that Tierce identified as his own, was found twitching in pain in a box on an exam room floor with one missing leg, one dislocated leg and two dislocated shoulders, according to court documents
An employee told investigators that the dog had been lying on a pallet in the same spot, without being given treatment, since she began working at the clinic June 2.
Tierce, according to court documents, told police that he had given his dog water and food but not medical treatment.
“He said he had not euthanized the dog even though in his professional opinion he knew it needed to be,” the documents state.
Tierce admitted that another animal he kept alive after accepting it for euthanasia was caged at the clinic for two to three years.
Police declined to release additional details about the ongoing investigation, including the health status of all the animals and whether the owners have been contacted.
The revelations were made Thursday in an arrest warrant affidavit written by Fort Worth police Detective J.D. Brady and in a state order issued Wednesday suspending Tierce’s veterinary license, which he has held since 1966.
The license will remain suspended until a hearing in Austin determines whether it should be reinstated, officials with the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners said.
Tierce, 71, turned himself in on an animal cruelty warrant about 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Tarrant County Jail and was released after posting $10,000 bail, officials said.
The warrant stems from allegations that he “intentionally or knowingly” tortured or caused serious bodily injury to the border collie.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Tierce relinquished control of the collie to animal control officers, who took it to their facility.
There, the dog was euthanized after another vet concluded that it had severe mouth disease, cataracts, abnormal overall health, a missing foot that left it unable to walk, and a degenerative and untreatable neurological disease.
The dog, the examining vet believed, should have been euthanized when initially accepted for treatment, the court documents state.
The state board and Fort Worth police began investigating Tierce after an Aledo, Texas, couple filed complaints alleging that their ailing dog, Sid, was supposed to be euthanized but that Tierce kept it alive without their knowledge and used Sid for transfusions and medical experiments.
In an interview at his clinic Wednesday, Tierce denied the accusation, saying a former employee was trying to get back at him.
It’s “all a bunch of hooey,” he said.
Jamie and Marian Harris said they had elected to put their dog down rather than have him remain in constant pain after Tierce told them that the dog had a congenital defect.
Six months later, the couple said, a former vet tech at the facility alerted them that Sid was still alive. They said they rescued Sid, who is now back at their Aledo home.
Acting on the complaint, police officers, investigators with the state board and animal control officers raided the clinic on Tuesday, ultimately seizing two dogs, including Tierce’s collie.
The suspension order states that Tierce gave investigators a signed handwritten statement that he accepted five dogs for euthanasia but did not put them down.
Tierce “acknowledged that it was a violation to accept Sid for euthanasia at his Clinic and not perform the euthanasia,” the order states. Tierce “told one of the Board investigators that it was his decision, and not the decision of the animal owner, whether or not an animal should be euthanized. (Tierce) also acknowledged that parts of his clinic were unsanitary.”
The professional standard of care, the order states, “is to euthanize that animal on the same day it is left for euthanasia, without subjecting the animal to further suffering and to euthanize an animal when the animal is in pain and nothing can be done (to) alleviate that pain.”
The order says Tierce repeatedly violated the Veterinary Licensing Act and is a “continuing threat and real danger” to the health of his patients and to the public.
The board has taken no prior disciplinary action against Tierce.
The Harrises, who said they intend to sue Tierce, declined to comment Thursday.
“For the Harrises, the time has come for them to focus on healing — both theirs and Sid’s,” their attorney, Jim Eggleston, said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
“Sid is going to physical therapy and is doing well.”
(Staff writer Elizabeth Campbell contributed to this report.)