WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) - An independent investigation of the Niagara County SPCA pointed to excessive use of euthanasia at the shelter.
The harsh light of public scrutiny stemming from the SPCA investigation is now focused squarely on the agency's veterinarian and board member Dr. William Gerber, who owns the Gerber Small Animal Hospital in the Town of Niagara.
Particular criticism has been aimed at a form of euthanasia, called "the heart stick" procedure, which Erie County SPCA director Barbara Carr said can be painful and cause convulsions. The now ex-Niagara SPCA director John Faso says he knew nothing about the heart stick procedure being used and put the blame on a veterinary technician, who now works at Gerber's clinic.
"The euthanasia that she did were hidden from me, and hidden from the rest of the staff. They were hidden from the veterinarian and they were hidden from Barbara Carr, two years ago," said Faso.
Dr. Gerber declined News 4's request for an interview, but another veterinarian in his office, Dr. Melissa Mroziak, did release a written statement. In it, Dr. Mroziak talks about heart stick euthanasia, saying it is not illegal in the State of New York when performed on an unconscious animal, which Dr. Mroziak says, was always the case.
Dr. Mroziak goes further, saying Dr. Gerber chose to be the SPCA's medical advisor and could not get involved in day-to-day medical functioning.
"Dr. Gerber reached out to [John Faso] to provide support, as he has for years prior," Dr. Mroziak said. "John's blatant redirection from himself is beyond disappointing and slanderous."
Dr. Mroziak also helped care for some of the animals in the SPCA's care and goes on to say Dr. Gerber has done more than previous veterinarians serving the Niagara SPCA, providing $15,000 worth of veterinary care last year at no cost to the agency while volunteering his time and expertise.
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