Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Veterinarian charged with animal cruelty

By Sheila McLaughlin, smclaughlin@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A Loveland veterinarian and her husband face charges that they mistreated four horses at their Warren County residence.

        Diane Cummins, of Loveland Animal Hospital, and her husband, Leslie, each were charged Friday with four misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, days after authorities received an anonymous call about emaciated horses in a muddy field on Senior Road.

        They were summoned to Warren County Court for arraignment Thursday. Each charge carries a maximum 90-day sentence and a $750 fine.

        A Warren County Humane Association investigator searched the Cumminses' 2-acre property in Washington Township on a warrant last week after observing the horses, a dead cat, dogs and cats that appeared malnourished and large amounts of fecal matter inside a barn.

        Warren County humane officials removed the horses — including two ponies — Friday. They were found in a pasture belonging to a neighbor.

        Mary Lee Schwarzwalder, humane association executive director, said Monday the dogs and cats also were gone and have not been located.

        She said she was aware of Dr. Cummins' profession.

        “We don't care who they are. We have to look out for the animals,” Ms. Schwarzwalder said.

        Dr. Cummins could not be reached at her home or clinic.

        Officials with the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board, which suspended Dr. Cummins' license for 30 days for violations six years ago, said they are looking into the recent allegations but probably would not take action until the court case is completed.

        Heather Hissom, the agency's executive director, said it is unusual to hear of veterinarians being accused of abusing animals.

        “We don't really get a lot of these,” she said.

        Licensing board records show Dr. Cummins was cited in 1996 for gross incompetence, failure to conform to minimum standards of care, sanitary conditions at the clinic, improper administration of drugs and failure to keep proper drug records.

        In addition to the suspension, she was fined $275 and placed on probation for one year, which expired Sept. 9, 1997.


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