Vet Accused Of Punching Dog Indicted

VetIn June, an Arizona veterinarian was accused of punching a chihuahua named Bella. He allegedly hit Bella 3-5 times in the head causing her eye to dislodge. Two veterinary technicians witnessed and reported the incident. The vet, Dr. Joshua Winston, denied all charges.

In an update to the story, a grand jury issued the vet’s indictment on June 29. Winston was charged with one count of animal abuse, a felony, and one count of misdemeanor theft. The theft charges comes from a separate incident earlier in the year. Winston was supposed to vaccinate a dog, but he allegedly put the medication down the sink instead of vaccinating the dog. He charged the owner $80 for the vaccination.

The Arizona State Veterinary Examining Board and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

“These allegations are very disturbing, especially against a veterinarian,” said Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. “People who entrust their pets to veterinarians have every right to expect good medical care, not vicious abuse.”

“We will aggressively prosecute this case,” Thomas said at the conference.

From azcentral.com:

Meanwhile, Winston still has his supporters. Some patients of his still stand behind him and don’t believe that he did punch the dog.

Jean Steenbock, a customer of Winston’s, said, “I’m very disappointed.”

“I had hoped that if he could tell his side of the story things would have turned out differently,” Steenbock said.

Steenbock has a 14-year-old Bichon she needs euthanized and said she was planning to have Winston perform the procedure.

“As long as Joshua Winston is a vet practicing out here, I will continue to use him,” Steenbock said.

17 Responses to “Vet Accused Of Punching Dog Indicted”

  1. Stefani says:

    Similar allegations were levelled against veterinarian Dr. Thomas Sheridan in South Carolina, whom former employees alleged having seen beat a sedated cat to death, strangle a dog till his eyes popped out, strangle and punch another dog, etc. Cruelty charges brought against Sheridan were thrown out because in South Carolina, veterinarians are EXEMPT from animal cruelty laws while practising. Which, Dr. Sheridan still is.

    I notice this article says merely that the state vet board investigated, but it quotes the county not the Board. Not surprising. The Board will probably dismiss the complaint — they usually like to protect their own.

    Vets like this ARE practicing nationwide. They are the rare, psycho exceptions, but their professional culture protects them, rather than spit them out the way they should. Until that changes, my point of view is I would never go to a vet that has such allegations against him, whether or not those allegations hold up in court. Where there is smoke, there usually is fire. Not worth risking my pets life.

    Vet techs know their entire careers are in jeapardy the minute they speak out against a vet - so when they do it, they do it at great cost. I believe only moral conviction and the desire to stop an egregious wrong woudl motivate them to take such a risk.

  2. Lynne says:

    Thank you for the info about Sheridan. I wish there was a centralized place one could check before going to a new vet.

  3. pat says:

    Stephani, if i lived in s. carolina, i would be hounding my legislators to rid the lawbooks of that little loophole. arizona is very aggressive in its prosecutions, so if there’s a solid case against winston, he’ll be in sheriff arpaio’s little tent city in the desert in due course. and if he did punch that poor little dog, roasting in the arizona sun is way too good for him.

  4. Flamin says:

    I even read winston-the-other-side-of-the-story
    http://tinyurl.com/33qyvq

    The two vet techs testified against Winston that he used a closed fist to hit the chihuahua, not flicking the dogs nose. Obviously, the judge didn’t believe Winstons story about the dogs blood pressure popping out the dogs eyeball either!

    It seems like Winstons supporters are vilifying these two vet techs, & a 5 lbs Chi, however Winston was found GUILTY in a court of Law. He needs to serve his sentence, pay restitution to the dog’s owner for damages, and his license needs to be suspended, Period!

  5. Stefani says:

    Pat, I am glad law enforcement and sentencing are tough in AZ (that’s what you are talking about right?) because last I saw, the State Board of Vet Med Examiners was awful — just really don’t do their job of investigating and enforcing. I’ve been told (by an AZ lawyer) that they are trying to do a better job which they should, after scathing Sunset Commission reviews.

    Check out:

    Arizona, Susnet Commission Findings, 1997, www.auditorgen.state.az.us/.....7/97-7.pdf

    News, etc: “Veterinary Board is Lax on Discipline, Some Say,” The Arizona Daily Star, June 29, 2003, www.homeagainid.com/news/article.cfm?storyid=9873

    The Sunsent Commission found that In fiscal year 1996, the Board investigated only 22 of the 102 consumer complaints it received. Here is an excerpt from their findings:

    “While investigating one complaint, the Board investigator also uncovered information that the veterinarian in question was euthanizing animals with household bleach and other cleaning chemicals, and disposing of the animals in plastic bags while they were still alive.”

    “Although the investigator submitted a report regarding these allegations in December 1995, Board members were not made aware of this situation until it was brought to their
    attention by auditors in November 1996. According to the Board, this is an active investigation case. However, a review of the investigation file in April 1997 found no evidence of investigative activity since December 1995.”

    Sunset Commission reviews are every 10-11 years or so, they are conducted to review state regulatory bodies, etc. In 2003, apparently they had still done nothing to step up enforcement.

    See
    News, etc: “Veterinary Board is Lax on Discipline, Some Say,” The Arizona Daily Star, June 29, 2003, www.homeagainid.com/news/article.cfm?storyid=9873

  6. Ruth says:

    These customers need a reality check. Why would the Vet techs lie? Guess Bella’s eye just fell out on its own. Hope Winston gets punished for what he has done.

    I wonder how Bella is doing?

  7. Marcia says:

    Pat,

    I do live in South Carolina and heard about the Sheridan case. I was outraged to learn that vets were exempt from animal cruelty laws. A few months ago I had legislation introduced to reverse this terrible flaw. I have the Attorney General’s support and expect the law to pass in January when the legislators convene. I sincerely hope that the system in Arizona handles Dr. Winston’s case better than the South Carolina system dealt with the Sheridan case. The public deserves protection from veterinarians such as Joshua Winston.

  8. E. Hamilton says:

    Darn good thing this maniac was not a pet food company, then he could kill and maim pets to his nasty little hearts content and nothing would be done.

    And charging for a vaccination he did not do? , theft by fraud - if he sold poison labeled as premium pet food he could kill thousands again and would not even be arrested.
    As things stand, he could claim he was giving a “premium massage” and walk on the charges.

    I sure hope his lawyer does not know about the pet food recall, the lawyer could argue that if the pet food companies are immune from animal cruelty laws, then he is entitled to just skip out on charges too.
    That Vick guy that had dog fights for fun?
    He can do the same.

    Once these pet food companies show everyone who hates animals how easy it is to get away with it , gonna be a rough old world for our four footed friends.
    Hard to explain to a kid that it is wrong to hurt animals when they see people GET RICH from doing it.
    Strange world.

  9. Lynne says:

    Marcia, could you email me? I too live in South Carolina and want to know more about this legislation.
    llp611@comcast.net

    thanks.

  10. pam says:

    i really think that if a vet abused any of my animals like he did i would go crazy and just shoot him.

  11. Joy says:

    It saddens me to hear about the Arizona vet. I am the veterinary tech. that initially had DR. Thomas Sheridan, the S.C. vet, arrested. The judge said it himself. I am releasing you “as a matter of law not fact.” What is going on with the institutions designed to protect our pets. They are, in fact, protecting the veterinarians and sweeping hundreds of cases under the rug. It is not right. This nightmare will stay with me and haunt me for the rest of my life. Something has to be done and I applaud Marcia Rosenberg for her determined efforts in fighting this legislation. Where are the vets who actually love animals and go to work everyday to help them, not kill them behind walls that cannot speak for them. It is sad…very sad.

  12. Veterinary Board Clears Arizona Vet Accused Of Punching Dog, Still Faces Criminal Case | Itchmo: News For Dogs & Cats says:

    […] called.Sign up for our daily email digest or subscribe in a RSS reader.In June of this year, an Arizona veterinarian was accused of punching a Chihuahua while he was examining her. Dr. Joshua Winston allegedly hit Bella, the Chihuahua, 3-5 times in the […]

  13. Susan says:

    Please take a look at the website (www.sheridantruth.com) dedicated to the Thomas Sheridan/Folly Road Animal Hospital story. Thomas Sheridan had me arrested for harrassment following two telephone calls to his office to collect my pet’s records. I was hauled out of my home in chains and transported to Charleston County Detention Center. I had to hire an attorney and was found NOT GUILTY. I turned the situation around and filed a civil case against him for: Malicious Prosecution/Pain & Suffering/Lost Wages/Unfair Trade Practices/Attorney Fees/Veterinary Malpractice. Sheridan settled the case.

  14. Kelly says:

    I hope this Vet never gets to practice again.

  15. Waystone says:

    While it’s awesome and important that people care when critters are harmed, please note that in this particular case, Winston has been cleared of any guilt by both the veterinary authorities /and/ a few days ago, a jury. Not because of a technicality, or an unfair law such as discussed above, but because they found the evidence didn’t support the charges.

    (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2008/09/10/20080910chihuahua0910.html)

    I know it’s unavoidable, but it’s still a pity when the good guys get swept up in zeal to find the bad.

  16. finally says:

    The veterinarian Joshua Winston was found not guilty after an 8 day trial….he was cleared by the veterinary board back in sept 07. What was learned from both forums is thatthe witnesses against him had no credibilty and all the experts the prosecutuion used stated from day 1 that there was no evidence to support any case of abuse. What was also left out that there were 4 other witnesses ( 3 that were never interviewed by the Sherrif office) that completely disagreed with the supposed witnesses. What also did not come outin the media is that of the 2 witnesses against Winston..one was satnding so far from the incident that she could hardly see anything and the other lied nyneous times during both the board meeting and the trial. She was also seen and stopped by 3 witnesses tormenting Bella the chihuahua before the doctor arrived with a rabies pole…and lastly the theft charge was found to be fabricated completely by the office manager who was coincidentally going to be fired…this is all public record. we are all against animal cruelty but in this case these people simply lied.

  17. finally says:

    The veterinarian Joshua Winston was found not guilty after an 8 day trial….he was cleared by the veterinary board back in sept 07. What was learned from both forums is thatthe witnesses against him had no credibilty and all the experts the prosecutuion used stated from day 1 that there was no evidence to support any case of abuse. What was also left out that there were 4 other witnesses ( 3 that were never interviewed by the Sherrif office) that completely disagreed with the supposed witnesses. What also did not come out in the media is that of the 2 witnesses against Winston..one was satnding so far from the incident that she could hardly see anything and the other witness lied numerous times during both the board meeting and the trial.She also recanted her testimony in front of 3 witnesses a week after his arrest. She was also seen and stopped by 3 witnesses tormenting Bella the chihuahua before the doctor arrived with a rabies pole…and lastly the theft charge was found to be fabricated completely by the office manager Arlene who was coincidentally going to be fired…this is all public record. we are all against animal cruelty but in this case these people simply lied.
    The reason this veterinarian was found not guilty in 2 separate forums ( vet board and criminal trial ) was because he was innocent not because he got away with something. This shows how much havoc a vindictive employee can cause for an innocent person. We should all be angry for being ‘played’


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