Ferndale veterinarian accused of punching, taunting animals

FERNDALE, Wash. -- A Ferndale veterinarian could lose his license after being accused of punching dogs, pulling their tails and taunting pets.

Dr. Peter Rule insists he's a good vet, but some local pet owners now question whether he even likes animals.

"He has done things that are horrific," said pet owner Corinne Dickey, who wants Rule out of the vet business.

According to charges filed by the Department of Health, Rule is accused of choking a dog unconscious, allowing an unlicensed assistant to perform surgery and nicking a dog's spleen. That animal bled to death.

Rule strongly denies the accusations.

"(To) put a statement of charges out that is inflammatory, that's really horrendous," he said. "How dare they?"

Rule said he did nothing intentionally wrong, but Dickey disagrees. She said she took her dog, Trooper, in for a simple neuter, and she said Rule nicked the dog's urethra, prompting a painful catheter.

"He just inserted it and I could hear Trooper," Dickey said. "I'm sorry, he just was yelling and writhing, just being really in great pain."

Dickey told the state her dog had to undergo corrective surgery after Rule's treatment. She also insists he hurt her dog, Bonnie, by tugging on her arthritic legs.

"I would never say I'm perfect," Rule said. "I've made mistakes and owned them, (and I have) not lied about this to anyone."

Three of Rule's former employees also say the vet taunted animals.

"I don't know if I growled at a patient or not," Rule said. "I do sometimes test the waters when I have an animal that appears aggressive."

Rule is also accused of taking animal pain medication for a sore knee, which he admits to doing.

"I did take some meds without a prescription," he said.

Rule said the charges against him are frivolous and blames disgruntled employees. He said he will defend himself before the board in May.

The charges are not criminal, but if the state proves guilt, it has the power to revoke Rule's license.
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