I investigated the case of Annette Thompson by reviewing hundreds of documents, 75 heartbreaking photographs of suffering animals and filthy conditions on her property and interviewing 35 witnesses, some of whose testimony dated back to the early 1990s (“Dogged Pursuit,” Oct. 13, 2010).
I take exception to state veterinary inspector Dr. Daniel Kovich stating he “had no authority in the case” and had to “rely on animal control to investigate.” There are at least seven Virginia comprehensive animal welfare codes that not only grant the State Veterinarian's Office the authority and power to intervene, but actually charge that office with the responsibility to do so in a case such as Thompson's. The Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine also requires veterinarians to report even suspected animal cruelty or face possible disciplinary action. Veterinarians also take an oath to protect the well-being of animals. So it's clear the state vet's office has more than enough authority.
“Relying on animal control to investigate” is a choice made by the state vet's office. It is not a requirement. Relying on an animal-control agency that had already proven itself four years earlier to be unreliable is simply unconscionable. Were it not for the compassion and bravery of mere residents who filed criminal complaints, Thompson's inadequate animal care would have remained hidden from scrutiny.