A Fort Worth veterinarian who admitted to keeping a family's dog alive to use it for blood transfusions instead of euthanizing it has been barred from practicing for five years -- a decision the family says isn't tough enough and could put other pets in danger.
"What does it take for the state of Texas to revoke a vet's license?" wondered Marian Harris, whose rescue of her dog Sid from a clinic this year touched off the monthslong investigation and triggered animal cruelty charges against the veterinarian.
The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners suspended Dr. Millard Lucien "Lou" Tierce's license on Tuesday for five years, after he admitted he had kept alive at least four dogs that should have been euthanized, including his own, at Camp Bowie Animal Clinic.
The board found he had failed to provide a professional standard of care, had behaved dishonestly and had not kept his clinic sanitary, along with a handful of other rule violations.
Harris told NBC 5 those violations should have resulted in an outright revocation of his license, not just a five-year suspension.
"We were really hoping for a revocation, because a suspension allows him to own a practice. And that gives him proximity to animals, and that's what we were trying to prevent," Marian Harris said. "If he's got proximity to animals, then he can harm other animals."
"I'm just upset that he can still go to the clinic now," she added, becoming emotional as she spoke. "That's what we were kind of hoping to stop."
The board had temporarily suspended Tierce's license back in May while they investigated animal cruelty allegations that emerged in April, when Marian Harris and her husband Jaime rescued Sid after being tipped off by a veterinary technician there that he was still alive and caged there -- even though he was supposed to have been euthanized.
The Harrises said that they had given the OK six months earlier for the clinic to euthanize Sid after Tierce told them he was suffering from a spinal defect from which he would never recover -- a condition the Harrises say they later learned their pet did not have.
That rescue triggered a board investigation that found unsanitary conditions in the clinic, as well as uncovered four other dogs that it says also should have been euthanized, including one that Tierce said had been living at the clinic for years after its owner had chosen to euthanize it.
It also led to Tierce's arrest on April 30. He was charged with cruelty to animals, before being released on $10,000 bond after he surrendered to the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.
Police and animal control officers said they found a border collie, which Tierce admitted was his pet, lying in a box on the floor of an exam room. The dog was twitching in pain with one leg missing, another leg dislocated and two shoulders dislocated, police said.
The suspension of Tierce's veterinary license Tuesday capped a monthslong investigation by the state board, which launched its own investigation at the time and detailed some of its findings in its ruling Tuesday.
"Animal organs were kept in jars throughout the clinic. Bugs were visible in exam rooms. Stacks of drugs, trash, laundry, paperwork and other miscellaneous items were strewn about the examinations rooms, hallways, stairwells, operating room, laboratories and offices of the clinic,” the board said.
Sid has since recovered from the ordeal, the Harrises say. The family has sued Tierce for $1 million for Sid's medical bills, as well as pain and suffering.
As for Sid, the 5-year-old Leonberger that prompted the state investigation, his condition is improving.
Sid is undergoing physical rehabilitation two days a week at PetsWest Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning in Aledo.
Just last week, the staff outfitted the dog with braces for his hind legs, to assist him with his walking.
Without the braces, Sid's hind legs visibly wobble due to muscle atrophy when he walks, according to Laura Johnson, of PetsWest.
"Oh, boy, I mean he literally looked like a little child running through the house with swim flippers on [when he is] trying to walk. That's how dramatic his walk is," Johnson said.
"Now, will it ever be better? Well, we hope that it is. But is he more than likely gonna always have to wear these shoes? Probably so," Johnson added.
NBC 5's Ben Russell and Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.