Local News

Wilson Couple Arrested For Practicing Veterinary Medicine Without License

Posted February 25, 2004

— A couple in Wilson is feeling some heat for their efforts to help family pets. They run a shelter, but state law is getting in the way of what they can do.

Max and Della Fitz-Gerald spent nearly $200,000 of their own money to open "For The Love Of Dogs" animal shelter.

"These are throw-away animals. These are animals that people have abandoned," said Max Fitz-Gerald.

Earlier in the week, the Fitz-Geralds were arrested for practicing veterinary medicine without a license.

"It's hard to do good today. It's really hard to do good," said Max Fitz-Gerald. "I didn't know we were breaking the law."

An investigator for the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board cited the couple after they vaccinated and de-wormed his dog. By law, only an owner or licensed veterinarian can do that.

Tom Mickey of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board said he became suspicious when someone faxed him a picture from a local newspaper that showed a veterinarian performed surgery in a unsterilized atmosphere at an unlicensed facility.

When asked whether he may have been overzealous, Mickey said, "I have to enforce the law how it stands. If the law changes, I will adjust my procedures accordingly."

The Fitzgeralds said they believe they were targeted because local veterinarians may have seen them as competition.

Since their arrest, the Fitzgeralds said they have received support from local leaders who hope to have the issue resolved soon.

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