The temporary suspension for a vet who secretly kept a dog alive for six months after he was supposed to have been euthanized will continue, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners says Friday.
A formal disciplinary hearing for Millard Lucien "Lou" Tierce, DVM, began late Friday afternoon.
Tierce's license to practice veterinary medicine was suspended earlier this month after Jamie and Marian Harris said the doctor kept their dog Sid alive for months as a blood donor.
The family said Tierce had recommended Sid be euthanized after he discovered a congenital spinal defect from which the dog would never recover. The couple agreed to euthanize their family pet, said their goodbyes and thought their dog had been put to sleep.
Six months later, the couple was tipped off by a vet tech at Tierce's clinic that Sid was being kept alive, caged in deplorable conditions and being used for blood donations.
The Harrises rushed to the clinic, retrieved their dog and then placed him in the care of another veterinarian who said Sid never suffered from a spinal birth defect.
Tierce admitted during the initial investigation by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that he had kept five dogs alive that should have been euthanized, including his own personal pet.
The board responded by temporarily suspending the doctor's veterinary license. That decision was upheld Friday after both Tierce and the Harris family were allowed to speak.
In the hearing, Tierce, who was surrounded by about 30 clients from North Texas for support, said the only dogs ever used for blood transfusions were his own and that he looked at the dogs as family, not property.
Some of Tierce's supporters cried when the veterinarian teared up during an emotional plea to the board.
"If I am not M.L. Tierce, veterinarian, I am nothing else," Tierce said during the hearing. He added that, while in his care, Sid was allowed 15 minute walks, five times per day.
Sid's family, who was allowed to speak at the hearing, questioned the care given to their dog by Tierce.
After Tierce spoke, the family of Sid's owner said she felt betrayed, after giving her trust to the vet. She said he specifically recommended Sid be put down. She remembered going to say her last goodbye, and bringing her son. She said, no one should have to endure that betrayal.
"If he was kept alive out of love, he wouldn't have been in the condition he was in, when we rescued him," Sid's owner. @NBCDFW
— Ray Villeda (@RayVilleda) May 9, 2014
After the allegations surfaced, Tierce surrendered to law enforcement, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty stemming from the lack of care given to his own dog, a border collie.
Thursday, the Harrises filed a $1 million lawsuit for monetary relief for Sid's care and their family's pain and suffering.
With the board's decision, it will now go to an administrative judge who will look at how the board handled the case, what the board recommends. The judge will hear from both sides and decide whether Tierce can practice medicine under conditions, or have his license revoked.
In the meantime, the clinic can remain open for business, but Tierce can't perform medicine.
The Harrises said Sid is doing much better now and continues to be seen by other local veterinarians and is improving daily.
NBC 5 's Ray Villeda contributed to this report.