A Bronx Vet Faces More Than Criminal Action for Dumping PetsPublished May 30, 2012
Harrison Police Department
Ernest Lungaro, Director of Humane Law Enforcement at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Westchester, said a Department of Transportation road crew found the pets, most of whom were decomposed, including a cat in a shoebox with a legible bar code.
Detectives traced the box to Las Vegas and obtained the identity of the buyer - a grieving cat owner from the Bronx who paid Manesis to cremate her pet. Later, police tracked down a second owner. The owners paid the vet between $100 to $300 to dispose of their pets in a dignified manner.
According to the vet’s website, "At Animal Clinic & Surgery of Throgs Necks PC, we understand that your pet is more than just an animal – your pet is a part of your family and we are committed to providing them the quality care they deserve and you expect."
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Necropsies revealed that some of the pets were put to sleep and others died from natural causes. Moreover, police explained that the pets were wrapped in garbage bags and throw into the brush on a few occasions from March 2011 to April 2012. They are still looking for more victims to come forward.
Sure to come is a possible professional misconduct enforcement action by the New York State Office of Professions which could, in fact, lead to the revocation of Dr. Manesis’s veterinary license by the State Veterinary Board.
Although we do know what will happen with the Manesis’s criminal case, a former New York State Veterinary Board Member observed that “the State Veterinary Board exists to protect the public and to ensure that practicing veterinarians practice competently and within the ethics of the profession. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Board to review and to determine if sanctions and penalties should be rendered against his license in order to further protect the health and welfare of other animals that may fall within his care.”
To ensure public protection, the Office of Professions investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct of the failure of a licensed professional to meet expected standards of practice. Professional misconduct includes the following:
- Engaging in acts of gross incompetence or gross negligence on a single occasion, or negligence or incompetence on more than one occasion
- Permitting or aiding an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license
- Refusing a client or patient service because of race, creed, color, or national origin
- Practicing beyond the scope of the profession
- Releasing confidential information without authorization
- Being convicted of a crime
- Failing to return or provide copies of records on request
- Being sexually or physically abusive
- Abandoning or neglecting a patient in need of immediate care
- Performing unnecessary work or unauthorized services
- Practicing under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
An enforcement action against a veterinarian can begin from either two distinct starting points. For example, if Manesis is convicted in the criminal court case, the Office of Professions will be notified of the veterinarian’s conviction and an investigation will be begin. Or, the two identified pet owners can file a complaint against the veterinarian now.
No matter how the process starts, an investigator will review the case and send his findings to a prosecutor. The prosecutor and a State Board Member of the Veterinary Committee will review the case and make a determination. The defendant can choose to accept the determination or he can challenge it. If he chooses to challenge, he will plead his case in front of three members of the State Vet Board, not including the member who initially reviewed his case. Eventually, the Board of Regents will ratify their decision.
A range of penalties that includes censure and reprimand, fines (up to $10,000 for each violation), suspensions and/or probationary terms may be imposed on licensees who have committed misconduct. In severe cases of misconduct, the Regents may revoke the professional's license.
As a former two-term State Vet Board Member (Public Member), I encourage all pet owners to be familiar with all recourses that they have against veterinarians or vet techs who commit gross negligence and other injurious actions against them and their pets because not only does you animal have to be protected but others in your community do too!