Pet Owners Left In Limbo After Vet’s Arrest
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CRETE, Ill. (STMW) - Bo Kish was not acting like himself. The 10-year-old Labrador Retriever started dripping blood on the floor. He had a urinary infection and needed his doctor.
So Bonnie Kish, of Crete, took him to her trusted vet, Dr. Gary Friederich, at the Park Forest Animal Clinic.
Sure, his office was shabby and the waiting room tiny. Sure, he kept weird hours. But his demeanor was kind, he seemed to care about all of Kish’s pets, and his prices were right. He took blood, and called days later with the all clear.
Kish now doesn’t know what to think. Friederich’s license is under suspension and he faces a handful of misdemeanor criminal charges stemming from a Cook County Sheriff’s undercover investigation.
And Bo has irreparable kidney damage.
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“It’s the first time my instincts of a person ever backfired on me,” she said. “I’m just questioning this in my own heart and mind, if he ever sent that blood out.”
Sheriff’s police investigators are much less ambivalent, saying Friederich, 64, who lives in Park Forest and has another clinic in Summit, was negligent.
They say, based on their own five-month undercover investigation, he falsified records and prescribed painkillers for fighting dogs he never saw, Liane Jackson said. And his record keeping was terrible, she said.
“There’s no specific evidence about that,” Jackson said of Kish’s case, “but we had specific concerns that other pets weren’t being treated for a variety of conditions. There’s no way for us to know what he did with every animal that went into his facility.”
Friederich also failed to report suspicions of dogfighting, Jackson said.
“We had heard he had treated dogs involved in dogfights, and perhaps he was known among certain people as someone who would treat your dog and walk away.”
Their investigation led to six misdemeanor charges against Friederich earlier this month, who’s scheduled to appear in court in January.
The 64-year-old vet had been disciplined numerous times in the past by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which controls professional licenses. Most of his infractions stemmed from poor record keeping.
The department suspended his license in November, saying it would further investigate claims the vet said he’d administered rabies vaccines to several dogs who, tests later showed, had no sign of the vaccine in their blood. He also charged fees for the shots, according to the complaint the department filed against Friederich. He didn’t properly label envelopes of medicine he prescribed to several dogs.
And after an undercover sheriff’s investigator—posing as a pit bull’s owner–said the dog was injured in a dogfight, Friederich never reported the fight to authorities.
Friederich could not be reached for this story. Calls to his Park Forest clinic were answered by staff at his Summit office. Messages left for his daughter, Dr. Tracee Friederich, who still practices in Summit, were not returned. An e-mail sent to the address on his Web site was not answered.
Kish has changed vets. Her pets ??— two dogs and a cat — are her family. It’s a shame, she said because the new hospital charges so much more than Friederich ever did.
“I thought he was a genuinely truly good vet. He just had his hands too full to properly clean the place,” she said.
Judy Venard also was a loyal patient. When the time came, she let Dr. Friederich end the life of her poor old schnauzer, Miss Muffin.
“He let me hold her and he put her to sleep,” said Venard, of Bridgeview. “And he said, ‘I am sorry for your loss.’
“The man is constantly working and donates a lot of time to people who can’t afford it,” she said.
So while his cases are pending and he’s unable to practice, she took her new schnauzers, Missy and Scottie, to see his daughter, Dr. Tracee, at the Summit office.
The office had been cleaned up since Venard’s last visit. The bill to have both dogs’ teeth cleaned was less than what other clinics wanted to charge for one.
If Friederich’s acquitted, Venard will be among to first to return to his care.
“I have no fear of him treating my dogs,” she said. “I’ve always been taught there are two sides to a story.
“Until you get both sides, you cannot judge.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)