Sunday, July 08, 2012

Cat Killer Vet Drops a Dime

Animal Extremist Vet Reports Her  Client to the Cops

Take home message for patient:  "I'm not your friend, and I will kill your cat."

Think your pet hates the vet now?  Just wait.

Here's the sequence of events, per the Albany (New York) Times Union:  When the FIV positive cat Guilderland resident Gerard Sagliocca and his sister obtained from a rescue stopped eating, they took the cat to the vet. 

The vet recommended euthanasia.  They rejected her recommendation, saying that the much-loved cat gave no indications of distress and had a good quality of life at home.

Sagliocca and his sister took the cat home to the duplex they share.

The vet called the cops. 

The cops went to the Sagliocca home, seized the cat and took him back to the vet's office. 

Judge.  Jury.  Executioner.

And then the vet killed the cat.

Just like that.

At the vet's insistence, Sagliocca was then charged with cruelty to animals.  The vet believes Sagliocca belongs in jail, even though the cat lived with his sister and he rarely saw the cat.

In Albany County, New York, animal cruelty is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $1000 fine, plus a mandatory ten years as the target of PETA vigilantes and other nut cases, public scorn, discrimination and humiliation through placement of the offender's home address, photo and other personal information on the county's brand-new online Animal Abuser Registry.

Remember:  Sagliocca did not injure the cat.  The cat had ample access to food, water, and shelter -- along with toys, a loving home and all the other perks of life as a house cat.   

Sagliocca's "crime" centers around a refusal to kill.  Instead, he and his sister wanted to take the cat home.

Criminal intent?  I'm thinking not so much.

Like other crimes, the concept of "cruelty to animals" hinges on the presence of malice.  The person must have made a decision to bring about a prohibited consequence.  In this case, the prohibited consequence would be cruelty to animals.  Accidents and bad outcomes caused by ignorance, or despite our best efforts?  However disturbing, tragic and difficult to accept they may be, they are not criminal.

The cat was already FIV positive when he was adopted, and was cared for to the best of their abilities.  Sagliocca and his sister brought him to a veterinarian when they suspected there was a problem.

I wonder if all those Albany County legislators who voted for that "animal abuser registry" thought the first person listed would be a cat lover whose "crime" revolves around taking a beloved cat to a veterinarian ?
Cheever, 2009 Humane Lobby Day at NY State Capitol. 
Photo by HSUS NY State Director Patrick Kwan.
Wrong on so many levels:  Holly Cheever, DVM

Unfortunately for Sagliocca, the vet he and his sister chose is an well-known animal rights extremist. 

A vegan who lives on a "farm sanctuary," in addition to her private veterinary practice in Voorheesville, Holly Cheever is also. . .

. . .the Chair of the HSUS-satellite Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association's "Leadership Council."

. . .vice president of the New York State Humane Association, an organization responsible for the  "education" of hundreds of New York public servants and law enforcement personnel on animal cruelty.

. . .a veteran militant in the drive to ban carriage horses from the streets of New York City.

. . .an advocate for the summary death of other cats in a hospice with "active feline AIDS."

. . .the author of a treatise attributing moral dilemmas on the order of  "Sophie's Choice" to a Swiss Brown cow.

. . . an apologist for a regrettable instance of an animal control officer forced to shoot a dog menacing livestock on the grounds that, after all, "Siberian huskies are wonderful dogs, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists them as the breed fourth-most responsible for dog-bite fatalities."   [and Cheever, I don't have your alleged "30 years of animal cruelty expertise" but I am willing to bet that even if huskies are not the sensitive souls that you believe Swiss Brown cows are, they still know the difference between a goat and a human being.]

Cheever opposes animal ownership, and is an outspoken critic of animal agriculture. 

Whose cat was it, anyway?

How the hell does Cheever get to kill someone's cat over their repeated objections?

Who put her in charge ?

As Sagliocca pointed out, there is no "mandatory euthanasia" requirement in New York State.

While Cheever insists on using "guardianship" language, pets are the responsibility of their owners.  Despite the voices in Cheever's head, veterinarians who make unilateral and drastic care decisions for other people's animals are walking on very thin ice. 

When vets snitch out their patients. . .

In Cheever's haste to kill that cat, she, and the Guilderland cops who  acted on her instructions, killed a number of other things, too. 

Among the other bodies on the floor:

-- the family's ability to seek a second opinion from another veterinarian

-- the family's ability to seek palliative treatment for the cat

-- the family's opportunity to prepare for and accept the cat's demise

-- the family's right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the right to due process.  The cat was seized and killed without consent and without the niceties of a hearing, or a court order. 

Also worth noting:  when Cheever killed the cat, she effectively destroyed the evidence.  The family's ability to demonstrate that the cat did not appear to be suffering?  Dead at the hands of Dr. Holly Cheever.

White Coat Syndrome:  when pet owners fear the veterinarian

Mostly, though, Cheever's animal rights activism will kill the faith and trust pet owners have in their vets. 

The AVMA's oath emphasizes the key role veterinarians play as members of society, placing their professional duty to society first. 

And with good reason.

How many pet owners struggling to care for  aging or terminally ill animals will think twice about bringing their pet in for treatment, fearing an accusation of cruelty to animals?

Must they always agree to immediately euthanize their pets, in accordance with vet's timetable ?

How many will hesitate to open their homes to an FIV positive cat? 

How many will decide, ultimately, that -- screw it, who needs the risk -- they really don't need a pet?

Throw Cheever to the wolves state veterinary licensing board

The good news is that Cheever faced a pretty tough audience.  In response to scathing criticism on the Times Union's blog, Cheever sounded more than a little defensive

And what she said is pretty damn scary:

". . .my views on what constitutes animal cruelty and the veterinarian’s responsibility and relationship to his/her patients are not unique. I am well-respected by my alma mater and by my colleagues overall, even those who may act differently, and am a frequent lecturer to veterinary students from the east coast to the west since I am considered a mentor and leader in the field of the veterinarian’s role in animal cruelty. . .. In my opinion . . .the failure to provide any care to companion animals until they are too close to death to save them constitutes cruelty in NY State. "

So there you have it. 

Taking a sick pet in for treatment can be a very, very risky proposition in Cheever World.  If the  animal is too sick to save--in her estimation--she believes that you've committed animal cruelty. 

Happily, and despite the chest-beating about her credentials and the support of her [fellow extremist] peers,  it is Cheever's behavior that runs afoul of the law.  It also runs afoul of the guidelines for veterinary professional behavior laid out by the New York State Office of the Professions.  At the very top of the list:

"The veterinarian or licensed veterinary technician should not willfully harass, abuse or intimidate a client or patient either physically or verbally." 

Dropping a dime on the client, much?

The New York State Board of Regents includes veterinarians who perform "professional services which have not been duly authorized by the patient or client or his or her legal representative" in their definition of unprofessional conduct.   Sagliocca contends that Cheever asked for $150 to kill this cat.

Also unprofessional:  "exercising undue influence" and "filing a false report."  Hmmmmm.

Vets in private practice are not judges.  Nope.

Setting aside all the self-promotion, Cheever is a vet in private practice who has far exceeded her professional responsibilities.  She's not a prosecutor, not an officer of the court.   She's not an elected public official.  Not a public servant.  Not a part of any law enforcement agency.  Her opinion on what is and is not "cruel" is not law. 

So Cheever's got a lot riding on this one.  Let's hope she gets her just desserts. 

Caring pet owners should be able to take their pets to the veterinarian without worrying about getting snitched out by an animal rights whack-job, having their sick pet seized and killed by strangers, and then, icing on the cake, being prosecuted for animal cruelty.

The Times Union reporter called Sagliocca and his sister's problems a "worrisome precedent."  He doesn't know the half of it.

Blogger's note:  July 16, 2012
Early this morning I received a response from Holly Cheever, or at least a person claiming to be Holly Cheever.  Once I figure out how to present the comments without further contributing to the tradition of personal interpretations of New York State law by animal rights extremists, I'll publish them. 


Unknown said...

Cheever violated common sense with this one! I hope current and potential patients know to stay away.

Unknown said...

Cheever is so obnoxious! I hope current and future clients say far away!

Anonymous said...

What a sad case! I know someone who has had a FIV positive cat for at least 10 years now, so the cat is living a normal lifespan in good health. All he gets besides normal care are some herbal remedies approved by the vet.

Anonymous said...

This vet should have her license taken away.

Heather Houlahan said...

How about the cops who seized the cat?

Was there no warrant?

If there was, what about the judge who authorized not only seizure, but summary destruction of evidence?

Yes, yes, I share the outrage over the vet's unprofessional conduct, for all the reasons enumerated.

But what about the public servants who carried out this order from J. Random Citizen?

Anonymous said...

Can you say Gestapo vet? All wrong, on all accounts. And I heartily agree, what's with the other OFFICIALS involved? I am not a litigious person, but when it comes to my pets I can be punitive.

Anonymous said...

What about patient/client confidentialty, due process, theft under color of law, the warrant requirement..... I hope she not only looses her licence but goes to jail over this. then get sued for all the torts involved and constitutional violations as she acted in concert with police.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we get people to put negative reviews on Holly Cheever's profile on Yelp:

Anonymous said...

I am glad she is not my vet. I am glad I have known my vets for over 25 years. My vets and I both understand palliative care and the need to protect all our animals from unnecessary suffering.

Anonymous said...

aww put it was all about the suffering of the "poor little kitty" that the vet thought might be better off dead.. she obviously wields some great influence over the police in that town.. let's hope a competent lawyer gets on this case..not about the money but about the whole "due process thing".. you know.. what our laws are based upon..her practice should suffer from this.. I certainly hope so.. she does not deserve to handle animals..she is an HSUS/PETA shill. her comments alone in the article will tell you that..

cariocagb1 said...

So the rest of us pet owners, be they furred, feathered, scaled or otherwise should wonder this. Will this VDMitch also take it upon herself to decide when people should be terminated because they have an uncurable or untreatable disease? Maybe she should be checked herself,after all some pet diseases are contagious to humans. I can only hope and pray she's been contaminated and will die a very long, slow and painful death.

Harmony said...

How do the cops explain that they took the cat to the same person who made the cruelty complaint. This was a vet who was in a position to MAKE A PROFIT from euthanizing it.

Has the cat's owner complained to the Office of the Professions? Someone should, and I think the cat's owner or the owner's lawyer is the only party who has the standing to make the complaint.

And how is the town of Guilderlands explaining their police department's violation of civil rights and general incompetence?

Unfortunately, looking at the comments on the original newspaper article, it could be that the cost of the legal defense for this will make the cat's owner back down. This is a damned shame. We should probably start a fund for them, since if the vet and the cops get away with this, it's a horrible precedent for all of us.

tracer said...

the scary thing ... somehow pets are exempt from search warrants -- if you're suspected of animal cruelty - they can come in, no warrant, and take ALL YOUR ANIMALS ... i'm betting that HSUS nazi vet KNOWS this, and probably uses it OFTEN. OMFreakingG!!!

Anonymous said...

There is a special place in Hell for people like her

Jungle-Man said...

And just to rub a bit more salt into the open wound, she has the gall to bill the owner $150 for the eutha-nazi-a!

Anonymous said...

As a Yorkie breeder/lover since 1958 I hope they do NOT pay her bill, and if they decide (I hope) to sue this wicked Vet I will contribute to any defense fund started.

Anonymous said...

I have no interest in agendas on either side and am interested in focusing only on THE CAT. In this situation, the cat was jaundiced and dehydrated. This is an extremely serious condition that requires immediate intervention and not one that should ever result in an owner walking away with the animal with NO treatment! The owners claimed there was nothing outwardly wrong, but if you have followed animal cruelty cases at all there is a long history of people that will look at what is obvious to us, yet they deny it exists and claim everything is just fine. If you worked in the veterinary field, as I do, you would know that jaundice is not only visible, but it is also, again, indicative of a critical and emergency situation that requires immediate care. Even in a black cat, the classic yellow color that is a symptom of jaundice is easy to see:
For a previously healthy cat this condition is bad enough and the prognosis is often very poor, but for an FIV cat it is a death sentence. The cause of the jaundice in this case was reported as liver cancer, the cat had stopped eating, the owners were unwilling to do anything as was shown by them bringing the cat home with no treatment, and this cat had no hope. To bring it home, do nothing, and allow it to suffer a slow and agonizing death DOES constitute animal cruelty and as such the vet was obligated to report. This cat was saved from suffering due to the refusal of his owners to do anything for him. Instead he was given the gift of euthanasia as opposed to having to die a slow, horrible death. Regardless of who thinks what about who, if you have a concern and compassion for a suffering animal I fail to see how saving this poor cat from further agony, neglect and suffering was wrong.

BlueDogState said...

Uh. . .no.
The only "evidence" we have regarding the cat's condition comes from the individual who took the law into her own hands and killed him over the owner's objections. She is now looking at getting sued -- if not prosecuted -- for what she did, so her account of how sick the cat was hardly comes from a disinterested party.

If her clients left her clinic without treatment for the cat, whose fault is that? Sagliocca and his sister were, apparently, ready for the cat to be diagnosed and prepared to treat him. Otherwise, why bring him to a vet at all? They simply were not ready to kill him immediately and based on what Cheever, alone, insisted on. Their's was an entirely normal and predictable response -- one that a better vet deals with without resorting to cops, allegations of cruelty, and illegal killings.

Anonymous said...

The cat was moribund at the time of presentation. At that point there is no other option. This is not the first cat these people have brought to this clinic at death's door. Their previous cat developed diabetes, which was ignored until that cat was also at death's door and had to be euthanized. There is a pattern of neglect here on the part of the owners that cannot be ignored and two cats have suffered at their hands.

BlueDogState said...

You can take the vet's unproven, evidence-free word for it, if you must. But Cheever has been involved in the prosecutions of others for failure to kill FIV+ cats. Does she believe the condition requires automatic euthanasia?

"Holly Cheever, an Albany-area veterinarian with 30 years of experience in
animal cruelty investigations, assisted in the probe of Angel's Gate. She told
The Associated Press that she cited about a dozen animals that should have been
humanely euthanized, including cats with active cases of feline AIDS.

She called [the hospice operator] an animal hoarder and Angel's Gate a death camp."

This isn't a blog about FIV+ cats, and without actual facts in evidence--which Holly Cheever destroyed when she killed that cat--we cannot pretend to make judgements about what the cat's prognosis was. Think. About. It.

This is a blog about a veterinarian who acted illegally and essentially as a vigilante when she euthanized someone's pet, and then made a travesty of client-patient trust by making allegations of animal cruelty against someone who brought a pet in for treatment.

Anonymous said...

What you seem intent on ignoring is that Dr. Cheever did indeed act legally as required by law. You are also choosing to ignore the fact that the police were involved, were witness to the cat's condition and returned it to the clnic, and the prosecutor felt there was enough evidence to press charges. The idea that there is a conspiracy between all the entities is nothing short of laughable. As to Angel's Gate, I find it telling that you would use that horror show as an example to defend your position. It is a place that not only caused untold suffering including "paralyzed dogs dragging themselves around until they developed bloody skin ulcers while their wheeled carts hung on a fence unused; animals kept in diapers for several days, causing urine scald; animals with open wounds and respiratory infections that weren’t taken to a veterinarian" and fraudulently took money from unsuspecting donors who thought their animals were going to get the best of care, but also is facing 22 counts of animal cruelty. Any cats that may have been euthanized there were done a favor as they had no hope of recovery. Remember, this place was billed as a hospice, and the mission of this type of place is to provide a good quality of life for the infirm and dying which ends with humane euthanasia when that quality of life is no longer there. To extrapolate that Dr. Cheever has a killing agenda just because some of the cats reported to need to be humanely euthanized may have been FIV positive is ridiculous. You say we cannot pretend to make judgements, but your article and comments are rife with them.

Anonymous said...

Has this vet behind reported to the AVMA or NY Vet board?

BlueDogState said...

Anonymous-the-one-who-claims-to-have-no-agenda: I'm not a patient person, so I'll go through this exercise exactly once more:

Cheever did not act legally. She's not a judge, she had no authorization to do what she did.

Or perhaps YOU can point out the part of NYS law that allows veterinarians in private practice to unilaterally make decisions to kill animals that don't belong to them WITHOUT A COURT ORDER and WITHOUT CONSENT FROM THE OWNER. Because I'd be very interested in reading that.

Theft under color of law, much?

The rest of your post is ridiculous. Have a nice day, and please do give Pacelle my best.

Anonymous said...

371. Powers of peace officers
A constable or police officer must, and any agent or officer of any duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may issue an appearance ticket pursuant to section 150.20 of the criminal procedure law, summon or arrest, and bring before a court or magistrate having jurisdiction, any person offending against any of the provisions of article twenty-six of the agriculture and markets law.

****Any officer or agent of any of said societies may lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal in his presence.****

Any of said societies may prefer a complaint before any court, tribunal or magistrate having jurisdiction, for the violation of any law relating to or affecting animals and may aid in presenting the law and facts before such court, tribunal or magistrate in any proceeding taken.

Anonymous said...

Godwin's law - There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups.

Anonymous said...

hahahahahaha these comments are hilarious. I can't stop laughing. I especially love how everyone is so horrified that an animal who was suffering at the hands of a psyhco animal abuser shouldn't have been humanely put out of its misery but then many of you go on to advocate for the death of a human. You guys are hilarious! I can tell most of you didn't make it past a high school, especially because one of you said Dr. Cheever should "rot in hell" and anyone who actually believes in heaven and hell are seriously lacking in the education department. Here's an idea, even though none of you went to college, try to help the economy! GET A JOB!!!!!! Stop sitting around all day commenting on blogs online! No one cares what you think! You're all pathetic. Let me guess, you all supported Sandusky, because as long as severe abuse is happening inside someone's home, the cops should never investigate!!! Oh, I see that "comment moderation" has been enabled, you should be ashamed of yourself. It would be better if these people's comments went up without any oversight, but you're actually personally selecting these disgusting comments. Let me guess, you're the person who was abusing the cats. It's people like you that make the international community hate Americans.

Unknown said...

I believe that euthansia is a viable option, and if an animal is suffering and without any hope, it is probably the best choice.

However, Cheever was in error in this case, as were the cops. This kind of case will make people hesitant to go to the vet!

Patrick Battuello said...

To quote George Will, you are a bloviating ignoramus who knows neither the facts of this case (beyond what you've read in a poorly written Advocate article) nor the parties involved. Dr. Cheever's credentials in these matters are unimpeachable. She is what all veterinarians should be: a true animal advocate. As for Mr. Sagliocca (in the interest of full disclosure, a family member), I suggest you re-read (or, perhaps, read for the first time) his rambling, incoherent comments for insight.

You are a coward spewing decidedly uninformed blather behind an anonymous blog. I truly hope that Dr. Cheever does not respond, thereby denying people like you any shred of credibility.

FIV+ cat owner/slave said...

The police have no business diagnosing a cat. If they believed this "vet" they should have enlisted the assistance of animal control AND taken the cat to a completely different vet or veterinary ER. This was a complete travesty, and I hope the owners will sue both this "vet" who cares nothing about animals and only about furthering her own psychotic agenda, as well as the police department. I hope the owners can get the cat's body back, although I doubt it, and have a necropsy performed by a real vet who actually cares about the welfare of animals. That would be the only way now that the cat is dead, to prove that killing it was NOT necessary. I also hope that everyone who takes their animals to that "vet" as well as anyone considering it, will not. She doesn't deserve to be in practice, or even to have a license. The cops who took the cat from the owners should be kicked off the force, too. We don't need people on the force who won't use common sense in upholding the law, nor those who will follow "orders" from an evil "vet" like this.

For those who say Dr. Cheever's credentials are unimpeachable: there were plenty of Dr.'s hired by Hitler to build a supreme race of people whose credentials were unimpeachable as well. Just because you went to school and have great credentials, doesn't mean you're right.

People who actually abuse their animals do NOT take their animals in for vet care. People who neglect their animals do NOT take their animals in for vet care, either. If these people had fallen into either category, and their cat was truly in the dire straits that Dr Cheever claims, they would have simply let nature take its course rather than taking their animal in to see a vet.

If Dr Cheever was a true animal advocate, and the cat was truly jaundiced and dehydrated, she would not have acted in such a cowardly manner. She would have instead administered IV fluids to help the cat feel better, at the very least, while she tried to convince the owners that euthanasia would be the most humane option at that point and explained to them why. The fact that she did not do that, and instead took the coward's way out and called the police to do the dirty work, speaks volumes. She has an agenda, and apparently that agenda is that all FIV+ cats must die. Does she feel the same way about HIV+ people? Even those who are NOT in end-stage AIDS? Cats lose their appetites for many reasons, and many times they can get through it with some care. That is what these owners took their cat to the vet for, help in getting their cat to feel better so he would eat. Cats will lose their appetite if they're constipated, what if that was the only reason this cat did? Then it was killed for absolutely no reason other than a vet out to kill every FIV+ cat.

There are many of us who have FIV+ cats. Unfortunately, there are still vets and shelters who are ignorant about FIV. I wish that was all that was with this vet, but it sure sounds like more than that. Being FIV+ is not and should not be a death sentence. FIV+ cats can and do live healthy, happy, normal or near-normal lifespans with proper veterinary care.

I hope there will soon come a day when ALL vets and ALL shelters are educated about FIV so that FIV+ cats will receive proper care rather than being killed. I hope all cat owners and potential cat owners will educate themselves on FIV as well so that they will understand that they do not need to fear bringing an FIV+ cat into their household. Right now, it seems like FIV is about where HIV was in the mid 1980's, which is truly sad.