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Frustrated veterinarian considers leaving Guam

by Nick Delgado

Guam - A local veterinarian is considering packing up and leaving the island as he contends the Allied Health Board is barking up the wrong tree. Dr. Joel Joseph runs the Wise Owl Animal Clinic in Tamuning. For several years the clinic has helped local pet owners care for their animals.  But recent actions by the Board, which oversees vets like Dr. Joseph, have the business owner considering calling it quits. 

"The Superior Court decided that they cannot convict me without letting me see the evidence. Now after all these months they suddenly want to produce the x-rays and prosecute me again? My answer to this bull: I'm not participating.  I'm not going to help them with this farce," said Joseph.  He explained that the unfounded allegations included him failing to report an animal's broken bone, alleged watering down of vaccinations, and an unclean facility.

While he contends all of the claims are false, Joseph tried to get a quarantine license to charge for caring for animals coming in from off-island.  Senator Telo Taitague says she met with the territorial vet Dr. Thomas Poole to determine if the allegations against Joseph were true, telling KUAM News, "Dr. Poole said that he drove by and saw the first non-compliance of quarantine, and that was the six-foot fence. So from that point he did not need to move further to already know that he was not in compliance to have an inspection."

But Joseph contends no one ever inspected his facility and alleges that the Allied Health Board has an ulterior motive for pursuing claims against him.  "Dr. [Velma] Harper, as the member of the board, has told me that if I raise my prices and lower my hours, that all the charges on board will disappear," he stated.

Dr. Harper, who not only is the Board's vice-president, but also owns her own veterinary hospital, declined an on-camera interview, saying she will not stoop down to Dr. Joseph's level.  

While Joseph contemplates leaving the island, dog owner and Wise Owl customer Dave Crisostomo has started a petition against the Allied Health Board, saying he expects, "To demand accountability from this board and to demand that they stop filing charges without any kind of evidence whatsoever."  Joseph, meanwhile, is hopeful the petition will be enough for the Allied Health Board to leave him alone and let him continue caring for animals that are brought to his clinic.

Residents can sign the petition at the Wise Owl Animal Care Clinic in Tamuning.

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