St. Bethlehem Animal Clinic
Ronald Whitford, the 73-year-old veterinarian and owner of St. Bethlehem Animal Clinic which employs two other veterinarians according to ClarksvilleNow.com, was found guilty of gross malpractice in the death of a German Shepherd dog during a routine spay procedure. This week, Whitford surrendered his veterinary license. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, which issued its order in June 2020, a necropsy was performed on 4-year-old Molly by Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Nashville in which no needle marks were found, supporting a witness account that no IV had been started when Whitford reopened Molly and she lost a significant amount of blood.
The most damning detail of the case may be that when Molly’s owners returned to the hospital, Whitford was out for lunch and the couple waited for “a significant amount of time.”
Molly’s death in May of 2018, which was what ultimately led to Whitford being forced to give up his license was not the first of Whitford’s troubles with the Tennessee Department of Health and charges of malpractice. He was placed on probation in 2016 after another routine spay procedure went south, and the dog died within hours. The necropsy in that case cited “poor surgical technique” and concluded that the dog died from post-surgical hemorrhage.
Molly’s owners told ClarksvilleNow.com that they were not aware that Whitford was already on probation.
In recent years, state veterinary medical licensing boards have come under more scrutiny for lax oversight as the media has brought more accountability to bear on the veterinary industry.