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Gage, a Siberian Husky, died after a botched neutering procedure. Buddie's broken leg was amputated after a string of failed surgeries. Two dogs were stitched up without receiving any pain medication.
All of the pets were treated at a Brooklyn Center animal hospital run by William Dudley and later his brother Mac Dudley. For decades, the state veterinary board received complaints about William Dudley, but his veterinary license wasn't revoked until 2007. The board disciplined Mac Dudley twice before suspending his license this week after he failed to comply with a February disciplinary order.
Former customers say the Dudleys shouldn't have been given so many chances.
Lisa Xiong, Buddie's owner, said she never would have let William Dudley operate on her dog's leg if she had known the veterinary board was investigating seven complaints against him.
"It is so unbelievable that ... they still let him practice," Xiong said. "I think there should be stronger regulations."
Dr. John King, executive director of the state board, said the public can't be warned about a potential problem until an investigation is complete.
"The knee-jerk reaction by most people is 'animals are being hurt, that person's livelihood should be removed,' " King said. "But the state of Minnesota says the purpose is not to initially eliminate that person from earning a livelihood -- it's rehabilitation, re-education and monitoring in such a way that they can practice safely and protect the public."
The future of Brooklyn Pet Hospital is unknown. Neither of the Dudleys is allowed to practice or own a veterinary facility. William Dudley, 78, owns the property that contains the hospital, an animal sanctuary, a grooming school and a boarding facility. State records also list him as the chief executive officer of Brooklyn Pet Hospital, and the hospital's kennel license was issued to William Dudley.
Mac Dudley, 62, declined to comment on the complaints against him or his disciplinary record when a Star Tribune reporter visited the hospital Thursday. William Dudley, whose veterinary degree from Tuskegee Institute still hangs in the lobby, could not be reached for comment.
'You trust your vet'
In 1959, the year after William Dudley was licensed by Minnesota regulators, he set up the Brooklyn Center hospital, records show. Mac Dudley joined the practice after obtaining his veterinary license in 1976. At one time, the brothers also ran clinics in Fridley, Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to Cassandra Roberson, who was married to Mac Dudley from 1980 to 1985.
By 1989, the veterinary board had dismissed seven complaints about William Dudley, records show. Roberson said she worried about how both Dudleys treated animals.
"The thing that stays in my mind was one time [Mac] was delivering puppies caesarean and did not use anesthesia," she said. "I questioned him about it because I saw [the dog's] eyes rolling back. But he said, 'They don't feel pain.' It's always bothered me for years."
Between 1990 and 2001, William Dudley was disciplined four times. In one of those cases, Dudley determined a kitten was possibly having an allergic reaction, but he left her at the clinic while he went to the barbershop, according to state records. After the kitten's death, the state put restrictions on his treatment of animals in emergency situations.
Another former patient said she once asked William Dudley to shorten the tails of seven puppies, but she doesn't believe he used any pain medication because she heard the puppies squealing while she watched from another room.
The board didn't begin revocation proceedings against William Dudley until 2005, after receiving six more complaints about his work, including one about a cat that had to have its leg amputated because a hospital worker failed to remove a tourniquet after the animal was declawed.
Another complaint involved Gage, who was six months old when he was brought in for neutering. During the surgery, William Dudley accidentally cut the dog's urethra, making it impossible for him to urinate, according to state records. Gage's owner brought him back to the clinic when the dog began vomiting. Dudley ran tests, but failed to notice the results were "outside the acceptable range for a living animal," according to the state's investigation. The dog died the following morning.
Xiong brought her 7-pound dog to William Dudley in March 2007 because she heard he was nice and his fees were affordable. But after several surgeries, Buddie's broken leg didn't get better. When she became concerned about a pin sticking out of his leg, a hospital worker claimed that was normal. Several months later, after Xiong found blood in her dog's urine, she decided to try another vet.
"They were like, 'Who's your doctor?' " Xiong said.
The new vet was unable to save the leg and was forced to cut it off on Aug. 23, 2007, the day after William Dudley's license was officially revoked by the state. It took two years to complete the action because Dudley challenged the board's decision.
Dudley subsequently transferred his ownership of the animal hospital to his brother, Mac Dudley, King said. More complaints swiftly followed. In 2008, the veterinary board was told that Mac Dudley failed to properly treat a cat for spinal pain. After investigators discovered Dudley did not have complete medical records, he was ordered to take a class in recordkeeping.
Loni Delmonico filed her complaint after she watched Mac Dudley start closing a wound on her dog without applying an anesthetic to deaden the pain. She said the dog started "screaming" when the needle touched her stomach.
"I got really angry with him and said, 'You can't do this,' " Delmonico said.
In February, after investigating the complaints from Delmonico and another customer, the veterinary board ordered Mac Dudley to prove his "surgical competence" by observing the work of his peers for at least six hours and performing several procedures under the supervision of a board-approved veterinarian.
If Dudley failed to successfully complete the assignment in 30 days, he agreed the board could suspend his license for two years, according to the stipulation he signed on Feb. 9. The move this week to suspend his license is still subject to a vote of the complete board in May, King said.
Whistleblower@startribune.com • 612-673-4628