Photo of Dr. Humble from Cutten Animal Health Center website.
UPDATE: Here is a copy of the settlement agreement in the case, which places Dr. Humble on a four-year probation, requiring quarterly reports and interviews. He must also notify all employees and potential employers of the accusations against him along with the decision in the case. If Dr. Humble violates his probation then the Veterinary Medical Board may revoke his license. He must also submit to 20 hours per year of continuing education for the duration of his probation, plus 45 hours of ethics training, at his own expense. And lastly, Dr. Humble must pay the board’s enforcement costs, which total $19,643.03, along with a fine of $2,000.
The state Veterinary Medical Board has issued a 15-day suspension of the license of Dr. Joseph A. Humble, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Cutten Animal Health Center. The suspension was issued in response to a series of alleged violations in recent years including fraud, negligence/incompetence, improper note-taking and failure to turn records over to the state board.
The first of seven causes for discipline listed in an accusation from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris stem from a 2009 case in which a couple brought in their 2-year-old mastiff named Tyson. Lethargic and urinating blood, Tyson was likely suffering from severe anemia and a low blood platelet count, according to the complaint.
“The standard treatment in such circumstances is the administration of immunosuppressive medication,” the complaint reads. “Respondent [Dr. Humble] did not do so. Tyson died on June 2, 2009.”
This mistreatment, along with illegible and incomplete notes, adds up to negligence, incompetence and/or inconsistency with standard veterinary medical practice, according to the attorney general’s office.
Tyson’s owners asked for and received a copy of Tyson’s medical records; months later, the Veterinary Medical Board also requested and received a copy of its own. Trouble is, the two copies didn’t match, according to the complaint. Pages in the pet owners’ copy were missing from the copy provided to the board, replaced with different pages offering an altogether different timeline of events. Plus, new pages had allegedly been added. This, the accusation claims, constitutes fraud and/or deception.
A second incident outlined in the complaint involved a dog named Bella who licked open a suture after surgery. According to the complaint, Bella’s owner arrived at the Dr. Humble’s office about the same time as another dog, which was in a life-threatening situation.
The complaint says:
Hurried on the account of the other dog, and without introducing himself, offering [Bella’s owner] any options, or performing an initial exam, [Dr. Humble] grabbed Bella and began preparing the site. He then used a staple gun on Bella to close the suture.
Again, the complaint alleges, Dr. Humble failed to turn over medical records when the board asked for them, and those records were incomplete.
Finally, the complaint alleges that the Cutten Animal Health Center took out a Yellow Pages ad that was missing information required by the California Code of Regulations.
The Attorney General’s Office also makes note of previous disciplinary actions taken against Dr. Humble, including a 2007 discipline for negligence in the care of a Labrador Retriever named Baby and a 2003 citation for negligence and record-keeping violations in the treatment of a miniature poodle named Priss.
An Outpost reader submitted this photo of the notice of suspension posted in the window of the vet’s office. Calls to the office phone go to a recorded message saying the office will reopen July 31 at 8 a.m.
ADDENDUM: Anyone in the Eureka area with an animal emergency is asked to call the Animal Emergency Center at 443-2776.