Local News

Vet's supporters, licensing board at odds

Posted May 3, 2010 3:22 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2010 6:59 p.m. EDT

— A veterinarian in Dunn is being asked to surrender his license after the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board said he has displayed evidence of incompetence.

The board says three complaints were filed last year against Dr. Guy Beretich, owner of Vets for Pets Animal Hospital. In one case the board called his care "incompetent."

"The case was not managed well. The examination was poor. You failed to make a diagnosis. You provided inadequate treatment and kept the dog overnight on fluids while unattended," the board stated in its report.

In another, the board said Beretich, 77, chose an inappropriate surgery for a dog's eye and then did the procedure on the wrong eye.

They also say that Beretich has had employees who were not licensed in veterinary medicine treat the animals.

The board has issued a formal letter of reprimand to Beretich and ordered him to surrender his license by the end of June.

Beretich, who has been a veterinarian in the state for the past 54 years, said he plans to legally fight the board’s actions.

“I don’t have that many years left, so I’d rather go down with a sword in my hand than crying in my handkerchief,” Beretich said Monday.

The board has suspended Beretich’s license twice before.

In 1985, it was suspended after inspectors found unsanitary conditions in his clinic in Clinton.

His license was also suspended in 1998 when the state said he did not properly treat and clean the wounds of a cat that soon died.

"We kind of feel our back's against the wall," Veterinary Medical Board Executive Director Thomas Mickey said. "How many times can you deal with someone?"

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has accused Beretich of using his clinic as a puppy mill. On PETA’s website, an article says Beretich allegedly breeds puppies behind his clinic in order to sell them at his Dunn pet store, Pets N Such.

“When PETA cruelty caseworkers called Vets for Pets, they were told that they could adopt a dog for a fee and that puppies bred by Beretich were for sale in his store,” the article states.

The site also lists a series of complaints about animal care and conditions from former employees of Vets for Pets.

Records pertaining to puppies who have died are not kept, according to the PETA article.

Beretich denies PETA’s claims.

Beretich said he would take the loss of his license and his clinic personally. He noted that he’s been married for 53 years, and he’s been a veterinarian for 54. “I take both of them very personally,” he said.

Supporters for Beretich have started an online petition and Facebook group in an effort to keep him in business.

"Doctor Guy looks after them like they were his own children," client Jerry McLamb said Monday.

A hand-written petition being circulated locally has about 3,000 signatures.

"This place provides a lot of affordable health care for a lot of low-income families," client Sherry Jackson said.

"If he's made a mistake, so has everybody else. But fine him, let him pay his fine, and go on," said supporter Chelle Raynor.

Supporters gathered outside the Walmart in Dunn on Saturday to show support for Beretich. “We had elderly people just crying. They don’t know where they’re gonna go because of their income. They can’t afford it,”  Raynor said.

The board gave Beretich until June 30 to surrender his license, but he told WRAL News on Monday that he has rejected their decision.

An administrative hearing will be scheduled for Beretich to address the board in an effort to keep his license.