A former Kalispell veterinarian’s complaint against a non-profit group that performs free pet spays and neuters was dismissed by the Montana Board of Veterinary Medicine Friday.
Thirty volunteers who have worked with the Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force attended the board review and reacted with glee to the decision.
“I’m surprised and pleased but I don’t think it would have gone this way if there hadn’t been so many people here to support us,” said Charles Hansberry, task force attorney. “I anticipated an investigation.”
The task force had been called before the board to answer allegations filed by Dr. Lesley Colby after she participated in one day of a two-day event held in the Flathead Valley last September. Colby, who moved to Virginia after filing the complaint, was not present at the meeting. She alleged unethical and illegal acts by the clinic staff and volunteers, including cruelty to animals brought to the clinic for treatment.
However, most of the six-member board did not agree.
“It’s a she-said, he-said situation and we are being asked to take the word of a person who is not here against the statements of all these others,” said board member Dr. Jean Lindley of Miles City.
Board chairman Dr. Deborah Yarborough of Kalispell was openly critical of the task force’s decision to open the meeting and notify the public of the complaint. “Now that we have all this media folderol, we are almost required to investigate this or be accused of sweeping it under the rug,” she told fellow board members.
But Lindley did not agree, noting that the task force had admitted that a veterinary technician had performed four to six cat castrations and had asked for assistance in tightening up any questionable procedures. Board members had been invited to both observe and participate in future clinics to learn about them.
Lindley moved to dismiss the complaint and send a letter of instruction on legal issues to the task force; the vote to do so was unanimous. Chairman Yarborough did not vote.
In the past three years, the task force has conducted 31 free clinics, spaying and neutering more than 5,500 cats and dogs in Montana.