spcaLA Investigation Leads to Revoked License for Veterinarian

Los Angeles, CA – As a result of an animal cruelty investigation by Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA), the veterinarian license of Ryan James Whitney (DVM) of Long Beach has been revoked by the California Veterinary Medical Board after it was found that he subjected a “feline patient to unnecessary surgeries, and therefore needless pain and suffering.” Whitney may no longer legally practice veterinary medicine in the State of California.

In 2015, spcaLA Humane Officers began investigating Furrever Grateful Rescue (FGR) and Whitney based on an animal cruelty tip. spcaLA discovered that Whitney was providing inadequate medical care to a cat, Sandy, who was suffering from an erosive tumor that eventually ate away at the left side of his face, including the left eye, part of the nose and mouth.

Medical records from September 2014 show Sandy was taken to Primary Care Animal Hospital in Long Beach by FGR, for an “eye issue” where tissue was removed from the eye area three times, but never biopsied, and drained of fluids multiple times while the affected area grew.  No diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment plan were ever provided by Whitney.  The investigation by the medical board also showed that “Dr. Whitney committed other acts of negligence and incompetence, and also maintained extremely inadequate medical records.”

Sandy continued to suffer as the tumor consumed his entire face and he wasted away to less than 6 lbs.

Finally at the end of February, FGR took Sandy to a different vet hospital where the veterinarian noted that Sandy had a large necrotic tumor and was diagnosed with end stage squamous cell carcinoma.  Based on his poor condition and abominable quality of life, his refusal to eat and weight loss, the vet recommended euthanasia as there was no effective treatment for his condition.  FGR opted to take Sandy home instead — home being a warehouse where he was checked on daily.  Profoundly disturbed by Sandy’s condition, “the worse [the doctor] had ever seen,” the doctor contacted spcaLA and the veterinary board.

In its investigation, spcaLA discovered that FGR had been using Sandy’s worsening condition for fundraising for Sandy on social media, a practice not uncommon, and meant to pull at the heart and purse strings of donors.  “It is unclear why Whitney or Furrever Grateful Rescue allowed the miserable suffering of this animal,” said spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein.  “Whatever their intentions, whether motivated by naiveté or greed, this kind of cruelty is beyond words.  No living being should ever suffer like that.”

Because the rescue is within the letter of the law and “provided medical care,” there are no animal cruelty charges pending against FGR at this time, however the Attorney General is looking into whether they are compliant with annual nonprofit regulations.

spcaLA is the only private animal welfare organization that is also Law Enforcement in the city of Los Angeles.  spcaLA Humane Officers hold the same powers of Peace Officers in the state of California when investigating animal cruelty.