MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A WCCO Investigation first exposed questionable care by a Minnesota veterinarian after burning a dog so badly it died.
Now that vet’s license is suspended due to another care complaint.
Bella broke her leg in January, and her owners brought her to their vet in Hastings. But what happened there, according to the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine, “fell below minimum care standards.”
It did not take long for Chris Wosika and his fiancée, Emily Hinzman, to crown their Yorkie, Bella as the queen of their home.
But after what she has been through, they believe she has earned the title.
Bella was nine months old when they let her outside in January. She slipped on the ice and broke her leg.
“She had fractured the lower part of her leg straight across both bones,” Emily said.
Dr. Jon Woodman at Town and Country Vet in Hastings took over her care. He told Chris and Emily he would put a pin in Bella’s leg to hold the split bone together.
“He basically kept saying he wasn’t confident, wasn’t comfortable, but he was going to do it anyway,” Emily said.
Dr. Woodman removed Bella’s bandage just a few days after her surgery, revealing a new condition.
“Now her foot was turned a little bit and bent again where it was broken,” Chris said.
They say there were no clear answers from vet as to what went wrong.
“So I ask him again, ‘What are the options? What do we need to do we need to do to fix this problem?'” Emily said.
During her second surgery, Dr. Woodman strung the pin up through Bella’s wrist to heal the break.
“This time they had her in a full bandage and a plastic splint that went all the way from the tip of her toes all the way up to above her elbow,” Emily said.
They would bring Bella back every week to Town and Country to have her bandage changed. Finally, during one appointment, Emily insisted she go in the back room and watch.
It was then she spotted a large, open sore on Bella’s elbow — and a bone far from healed.
“Right away I’m like looking at her leg and I’m like, ‘Why is her leg crooked?’ It looked like an ‘S,’ and he looks at it and he goes, ‘That’s a great question. I have no idea why her leg is crooked,'” Emily said.
She says that is when Dr. Woodman told her part of Bella’s bone dissolved, leaving him with only two options.
“He said, ‘Oh, well we can either amputate or you can just let it hang there and dangle and flop,” Emily said.
That is when Emily and Chris left Dr. Woodman’s care and brought Bella to the University of Minnesota for an emergency appointment.
They say a vet immediately told them Bella’s leg had a bad infection. And paperwork from that day from other vets also noted that “the method of repair Dr. Woodman used for the broken leg was unusual and not adequate or recommended.”
Tom Dunlap and Marcy Christensen also went to the U after their Shih Tzu’s suffered third-degree burns.
It was too late for one of their dogs. Kaiya died after being hooked up to a heating pad too long during a routine teeth cleaning at Town and Country.
At that time, an investigation by the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine discovered Jon Woodman “disposed of the heating pads days after that cleaning and altered Kaiya’s medical records.”
Last spring, the board issued a stayed suspension against Woodman and his wife, Julie, his partner at the clinic, requiring them to complete a number of courses to keep their license.
Now the board has temporarily suspended his license, saying they received “credible information” Woodman “provided care that fell below the minimum standards of practice,” and “deliberately misled” them about what happened to Bella.
In a statement, Dr. Woodman’s attorney says his client is surprised at the board’s actions:
“Many of the allegations are demonstrably erroneous and will be directly refuted by the medical records and firsthand witness accounts. Dr. Woodman provided quality care and is confident he will be vindicated.”
Vets at the U used a different method and were able to salvage Bella’s leg in yet another surgery, but they say she will always have lasting effects.
“No, I don’t think they should be in business. The way he has handled this whole situation … the fact that he couldn’t even follow up when I spent thousands of dollars at your clinic with a, ‘How is Bella doing?'”
Emily and Chris are focused now on sharing their story with the belief that it will protect other pets from the professional they once trusted.
They paid Town and Country about $4,000 for Bella’s surgeries — money they are still trying to get back.
Woodman goes before the board later this month as he works to get his license back.
Click here to check if your vet has faced any disciplinary action in the past on the Board of Veterinary Medicine’s website.