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Veterinarian Fired After Blowing Whistle on Animal Cruelty

City officials in Houston, Texas have fired a veterinarian who has acted as a whistle-blower against botched and cruel operations on pets in the past.

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But Kathy Barton, a health department spokesperson, said Gil Costas has been fired because he failed to file registration to handle controlled substances and drugs with the Department of Public Safety for his secondary, part-time job at the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care.

He held the certification for his primary job, which in the past has been sufficient — leading Costas to accuse the department of firing him because of his loud mouth.

“These people are slandering me,” he said. “I told [Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care chief] Sudhoff McGill, ‘Don’t embarrass the city by citing this as the reason you are firing me.’ I know why they are firing me — because I have continually given them reports about animal cruelty occurring at BARC.”

In 2006, Costas made claims against fellow BARC vet David Rundell that eventually led to a year-long surgical suspension. Costas said Rundell had made several botched three spay surgeries on cats, all of which then had to be put down.

In 2008, Costas also accused Rundell of a puppy with distemper, claiming that he left the puppy dying on a cold cement floor for four hours while he took a cigar break, among other things. Costas told the Houston Press:

This foster mother arrived at the shelter shortly after the gates were opened to the fostering public. [BARC opens to the public at noon on Sundays]. Per her own admission, she had been waiting at the gate since 11 a.m. Other foster mother [sic] attests to having seen this woman with the dying puppy in the basket before noon. She was standing in front of the immunization clinic, right under the cameras….When the foster mother got to see the veterinary technician, she was carrying a moribund puppy in a basket. She asked to see the veterinarian on duty.

The foster [mother] insisted in speaking with the veterinarian, who visibly showed his displeasure for the interruption…Dr. Rundell left the room, the tech allowed the foster mother to say goodbye to her puppy, and then he did as he was told. He took the puppy to the loading dock area and placed him on the chain link cage adjacent to the euthanasia room, expecting that such euthanasia would be done expediently. No other cages were available at that time, since the kennel attendant was hosing down the stackable cages. In the middle of the afternoon, this puppy was witnessed by BARC employees having seizures while he laid on a cold cement floor. As per Dr. Rundell, euthanasia was performed by him after closing to the public (4 p.m. on Sundays).

Rundell claimed that he waited to euthenize the puppy because it had not been suffering immediately.

“There was no excuse to let [Costas] go,” said Nicole Sica, editor of Houston’s Poocini blog. “He’s the only one who gave a damn. And they’re letting him go. It’s heartbreaking.”

Rundell has still not been fired and is under paid suspension while an investigation continues. Interestingly, he also is missing the same credentials Costas has been fired for not having. He is expected to be terminated by next week.

Photo Credit: Storeyland on Flickr under Creative Commons license.



3 comments
  1. Kari Gil

    We need to act together to stop cruelty against animals. Houston is not the only place were animal cruelty is taking place. Is everywhere!
    We need to work as a society to change for good.

  2. marinane daniels

    i think that rundell needs to be fired and costas needs to be re-hired on..we need more people like him to get rid of the cruel people that we call humans that abuse animals..

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