A Veterinarian mistakenly euthanized dog at Cape Breton

Melanie Hines, daughter of Arlene Fougere
of Meat Cove, with the family’s dog
at an earlier date.

Dr. Sietse VanZwol, who mistakenly euthanized a dog last year, has been forced to surrender his license and sell his animal clinic.

Cooper, an eight-year-old husky owned by the family of Arlene Fougere, was euthanized by mistake by Dr. Sietse VanZwol, owner of Highland Animal Hospital in Port Hawkesbury. VanZwol has been forced to retire and agrees never to apply for a veterinary license anywhere ever again.

On Aug. 4, 2020, Fougere took Cooper to a walk-in clinic held in Ingonish by the Highland Animal Hospital in Port Hawkesbury to have the dog’s sore leg checked. Fougere said her dog was very healthy and that she had spoken to the veterinary assistant on several occasions regarding her dog’s leg. Due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time, Dr. Sietse Vanzwol came out to the parking lot. Seeing the doctor carrying a rubber band, Fougere assumed he was going to draw blood for testing. Without carrying a chart or saying a word, the veterinarian gave her dog a needle euthanizing him. Fougere was extremely distraught.

“I screamed, “You killed my dog,” she said. Fougere was so distraught, RCMP responded to the scene to assist. The veterinarian told her there were three dogs there to be put down and he made a mistake. Fougere filed a complaint with the provincial veterinarian authority.

Dr. Frank Richardson, a registrar of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association (NSVMA), said Dr. Sietse VanZwol, owner of Highland Animal Hospital in Port Hawkesbury, will no longer have a license to practice veterinary medicine.

“He’s no longer allowed to practice anywhere,” Richardson said. “Not just Nova Scotia but anywhere.”

Richardson said according to their legislation, because VanZwol is not a licensed veterinarian anymore, he has one year from July 9 to sell his practice. Highland Animal Hospital also has offices in Guysborough, Inverness, Chéticamp, and Ingonish.

“He has to sell it,” Richardson said. “Because of not being a veterinarian anymore, he cannot stay as an owner. I’m under the understanding the process is already underway.”

After waiting almost an entire grief-stricken year for the decision, Arlene Fougere of Meat Cove was extremely emotional while relaying she finally got justice for her beloved eight-year-old husky Cooper.

Fougere said her lawyer sent her a copy of the decision and admits it was difficult to open it at first.

“When I got to the final decision I just started bawling,” she said. “I couldn’t even read anymore at one point. I had to keep wiping away my tears to keep reading. I kept saying, ‘omg Cooper won. He’s going to save other animals. Cooper fought for justice for a whole year not just for himself but for other animals and he won, he did it.’”

Fougere said she felt she let Cooper down by taking him to that clinic that day. A lobster fisher, she no longer went out during the year other than when fishing season was on.

“I haven’t been on a walk since August,” she said, through sobs. “I can’t without Cooper. It turned my life upside down. I couldn’t function.”

Full story: https://bit.ly/36Oej3y

Picture credit: www.saltwire.com