Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners v. Kristen E. Lindsey, D.V.M.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Today, April 25, 2016 was the first day of the hearing in the case of Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners vs Kristen Lindsey, DVM, before the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

We spoke with Misty Christo, Staff Attorney for Alley Cat Allies, who was in attendance at the hearing today. Alley Cat Allies has been advocating for justice on behalf of Tiger, the cat allegedly killed by Dr. Lindsey. The following is a brief summary of the hearing today. The hearing room included media, spectators, Tiger’s Justice Team, Misty Christo, staff attorney for Alley Cat Allies, and Lora Dunn, attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Who Testified?

  • Clare Johnson, owner of Tiger. Clare was present to attest to the identity of the cat and to state the lack of consent given in the killing of the cat.
  • Bill Johnson, owner of Tiger. Bill was also present to attest to the identify of the cat and to state that there was a lack of consent in the killing of the cat.
  • Amy Hemsell, Tiger’s petsitter. Amy was present to attest to the identity of the cat.
  • Dr. Gail Golab. Dr. Golab is an expert witness with the American Veterinary Medical Association and testified to the Association’s policies and guidelines.
  • Dr. Kristen Lindsey, the veterinarian accused of killing neighborhood cat, Tiger.
Kristen Lindsey at the April 25 hearing

Photo Courtesy Alley Cat Allies. Kristen Lindsey and her attorney Brian Bishop

As the hearing proceeded, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) maintained that the cat that was killed by Dr. Lindsey was Tiger, a neighborhood cat owned by Clare and Bill Johnson. Dr. Lindsey contended that the cat she killed was not Tiger, but a feral cat.

Identifying Tiger

Exhibits were shown to try to determine the identity of the cat as Tiger including the (now-famous) video of Tiger alive and well on the riding mower. Then the photo of Tiger with the arrow through his head after Dr. Lindsey killed him. The images were compared in order to note the similarities and the distinctive markings, most notably, a white band of fur around Tiger’s leg.

A good deal of discussion was had about the deceased cat’s scrotal sac. Tiger’s family indicated that he was fixed. After the social media firestorm occurred, Kristen Lindsey went back to the body of the dead cat and took a picture of its rear end displaying its scrotal sac. She sent the image to her friend, Preston Northrup as proof that the cat was feral.  The reality is that all male cats, neutered or not, will have a scrotal sac. When a cat is neutered, the testicles are removed from the scrotal sac, but the sac remains.

Dr. Lindsey also admitted that she did not fear that the cat was rabid as she had previously stated. As a veterinarian, it would have been her responsibility to have the cat examined if rabies had been suspected. Instead Kristen Lindsey said, “Feral cats are an issue that needs to be managed.” 

The hearing will continue tomorrow with testimony from Buddy Northrup, the father of the person Dr. Lindsey sent the scrotal photo to. Mr. Northrup will appear at the hearing to testify about his experience with feral cats in support of Dr. Lindsey.

Alley Cat Allies staff attorney Misty Christo in front row of Kristen Lindsey hearin

Photo Courtesy Alley Cat Allies. Misty Christo, Alley Cat Allies staff attorney in the front row (blue)

Misty Christo, staff attorney for Alley Cat Allies stated, “Alley Cat Allies is hopeful and optimistic that Kristen Lindsey’s license will be revoked. She needs to be held accountable for the egregious disregard for the life and suffering of the cat she killed. The Board has the right and responsibility to protect its profession. So we hope the judge will uphold the Board’s decision.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Christo. Whether or not the cat was feral should not matter. As a member of the veterinary profession, and a cat owner (yes, hard to believe Kristen Lindsey has a pet cat!), she lacks the necessary compassion and judgement to care for other’s pets.

We’ll update you after tomorrow’s hearing. A big “thank you” to Alley Cat Allies for following this story and keeping us apprised!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The remaining witnesses testified today and the hearing ended in the early afternoon, Tuesday, April 26, 2016. A decision is not expected until later this year. See the timeline below for more details.

Warning: The information below is disturbing. We spoke with Alley Cat Allies’ staff attorney, Misty Christo, to get the details from the hearing. Ms. Christo noted that some of the testimony was difficult to hear – particularly concerning the discussion around whether or not the cat, presumed to be Tiger, was dead in the photo.

The second day of the hearing kicked off with an expert witness for TBVME, Dr. William Folger who is the Feline Regent for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr. Folger provided his expert opinion stating:

  • In his professional opinion, the cat depicted in the photo was Tiger.
  • The markings on Tiger’s leg (the white band) was distinctive, much like a tattoo.
  • The position of the cat’s arms and legs suggest that he was alive in the picture and was not killed quickly as Dr. Lindsey suggested. This was not akin to a humane euthanasia. Tiger suffered and did not die instantaneously.
  • Photo evidence also suggested that the cat in the picture was a neutered male and not a feral tomcat as Dr. Lindsey had stated.
  • The size and condition of the cat in the picture is consistent with a healthy, owned cat. Again, not a feral tomcat.
  • Dr. Lindsey contends that the cat pictured was an intact male. Dr. Folger pointed out that the prepuce would appear more rounded 24 hours after death giving an appearance of a testicle, but it was not.  Additionally, the cat in the picture did not have jowls which are a typical secondary sexual characteristic of male cats that have not been neutered.

In addition to Dr. Folger’s compelling expert testimony, Kristen Lindsey’s team presented several witnesses and Kristen Lindsey testified again. Overall, Dr. Lindsey’s team painted feral cats as a nuisance and a problem that needed to be managed. They also pointed out that the killing of feral and stray cats is commonplace in Washington County. The following are summaries of the testimony today.

Dr. William Folger

Photo Courtesy Alley Cat Allies: Dr. Folger providing expert testimony

Dr. Lindsey

  • Dr. Lindsey reiterated that she believed that the cat was a feral tomcat that was not neutered. She also stated that the scrotal sac pictured were testicles, and not the prepuce.
  • While Dr. Lindsey has treated cats during her veterinary career, her focus has been on treating horses.
  • Kristen Lindsey at one point referred to the cat as being gross and foul-smelling and stated, “We don’t need feral cats.”

Karen Chapman

  • Ms. Chapman is a vet tech that worked with Dr. Lindsey at the Washington Animal Clinic.
  • She testified that Kristen Lindsey is a huge animal lover and that Dr. Lindsey has never lost her temper with any animals.
  • Ms. Chapman was asked about her views of feral cats and stated that it’s not possible to capture, declaw and rehome all of them. She also stated that it was a well-known fact that feral cats carry diseases and are very destructive.

 

Karen Chapman, Vet Tech that worked with Kristen Lindsey

Photo Courtesy Alley Cat Allies: Karen Chapman, Vet Tech

Paul Smith, D.V.M. stated the following via telephone (summarized):

  • He is aware of Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs, but that TNR doesn’t solve the problem of feral cats.
  • Dr. Smith expressed his opinion that TNR is a terrible situation, “I don’t see anything good about feral cats in your neighborhood.” He said that even after a cat is TNR’d, they are still bird and lizard killers and that they pollute the environment with their urine.
  • He stated that Dr. Lindsey did not violate any veterinary standards. He believes that the cat died instantaneously and did not suffer.
  • Dr. Smith contends that the killing by bow and arrow was equivalent to the AVMA’s approved procedure for euthanasia by captive bolt which requires the administrator to be skilled. (Editorial note: “…first bow kill” suggests she was not skilled at this method, even if we agreed that this was an acceptable form of euthanasia, which we do not.)
  • He was not sure whether or not the cat had testicles from the photo evidence.
  • Dr. Smith insists that the cat in the photo was dead and that had it not been dead, it would have been thrashing around and fighting.
  • Dr. Smith was asked if animals can go into shock and he responded in the affirmative.

Dr. Smith is not a board certified feline practitioner.

Preston Northrup, land owner, livestock owner, self-proclaimed cat killer, shared the following views:

  • Mr. Northrup stated that he shoots cats that come onto his property and that others do the same on their properties.
  • He believes that cats are pests and that they are diseased and responsible for the loss of wildlife like rabbits and birds.
  • When he shoots cats, he shoots them with bullets and goes for the head or the heart.
  • Mr. Northrup believes it is okay to shoot people’s pets if they are bothersome and on your property.
  • It’s common in rural communities to shoot cats.
Preston Northrup, kills cats on his property.

Photo Courtesy Alley Cat Allies: Preston Northup, kills cats on his own property.

 

Timeline of upcoming events:

  • 5/20/2016 – The transcript of the hearing will be available.
  • 6/10/2016 – Deadline for written closing arguments/statements to the Adminstrative Law Judge.
  • 7/1/2016 – Reply brief deadline
  • Decision – Typically, decisions are made within 60 days. This is a rough guideline and not a requirement. A ruling is expected later this year, possibly in the fall.

Misty Christo, staff attorney for Alley Cat Allies stated, “The Board wants to prove that the cat Kristen Lindsey killed was Tiger, who had owners and was killed without his owners’ consent. The witnesses and exhibits presented by the Board were very compelling and leave little to no doubt that this cat was Tiger. It was very difficult to listen to testimony offered by an expert witness who believed Tiger was still alive in the photo Kristen Lindsey posted on Facebook.

Kristen Lindsey maintains the cat was feral, and presented witnesses who cast feral cats and Trap-Neuter-Return as a way to manage them in a negative light. However, feral cats and TNR were not on trial today. And regardless of who that cat was and his origin, it is completely unacceptable for a veterinarian to kill a cat in such a cruel way, let alone brag about it on social media.”

Lora Dunn, attorney for Animal Legal Defense Fund was present at the hearing and the ALDF issued the following statement:

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund has fought to bring Kristen Lindsey to justice since her Facebook post last year. ALDF Attorney Lora Dunn testified before the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners urging revocation of Lindsey’s veterinary license. When Lindsey’s appeal of the license revocation brought new information to light, the Animal Legal Defense Fund launched a petition asking the Austin County District Attorney’s office to reopen the animal cruelty case against Lindsey, which was closed in 2015 after a grand jury claimed insufficient proof for an animal cruelty charge. The petition has received over 50,000 signatures.”

We stand together with Alley Cat Allies and Ms. Christo’s sentiments and thank Alley Cat Allies, ALDF and Tiger’s Justice Team for all of their efforts in standing up for those without a voice.

Whether or not the cat in the picture was feral is irrelevant. Cruelty toward animals, whether owned or unowned, cannot be tolerated. The fact that Ms. Lindsey is a veterinarian and pledged to care for animals makes this case all the more shocking. We sincerely hope that her license to practice veterinary medicine is revoked as she is out of step with the veterinary profession’s standards and generally accepted conduct.

We’ll continue to follow this story and keep you posted.