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Moral care found unethical under law


Alamogordo, N.M. — Dr. George L. Wiley stared at the floor in his waiting room as his hands were pulled behind his back and handcuffed by a New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officer.

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — Dr. George L. Wiley stared at the floor in his waiting room as his hands were pulled behind his back and handcuffed by a New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officer.

Dr. George L. Wiley stands behind his Alamogordo Animal Hospital, where he was cuffed and stuffed for treating a fawn.

He wondered just how his situation escalated from treating an animal in need to being escorted to a police cruiser.

"While I was being read my Miranda rights, I kept thinking, 'This can't be real. This is what I do; this is my job,' " says Wiley of Alamogordo Animal Hospital.

He was being arrested for possession of a deer and obstructing an officer. The real issue was he treated an injured fawn brought to the clinic, which violated state wildlife laws.

While the arrest occurred more than a year ago, Wiley's civil action suit to clear his name continues.

"I am waiting to hear when I'll have my day in court," Wiley says. "The district court hasn't said they wouldn't hear my case, but it is taking a long time."

Wiley says all he wants is his arrest record to be tossed and an apology from the arresting officer. He is still waiting for both.

The ordeal began when a technician on Wiley's staff brought a fawn to the practice on the day of the incident after finding it debilitated and injured on the side of a wooded road. Although Wiley immediately contacted Game and Fish officers, the damage had been done — he violated a state law that forbid removing a deer from its environment, without exception.

"I administered fluids because the fawn was severely dehydrated," Wiley says. "But I had alerted the authorities the animal was at my practice. I thought I was following the law."

Wiley was arrested when he refused to give the name of the staff member who brought him the fawn.

Upon his arrival at the police station, Wiley was fingerprinted, his mug shot was taken, and a complete report was written about the incident.

DVM Newsbreak

When the district attorney caught wind of the incident, the charges were dropped immediately. However, police refused to discard the record of Wiley's arrest.

"All I wanted was the record thrown out. I wasn't doing anything wrong, and they knew it. I couldn't even get an apology out of them after they drug me out of my practice in front of my staff," Wiley says. "I am waiting for a civil suit to determine if the records can be destroyed and my tarnished name revitalized."

Wiley says the clinic's phone rang off the hook, and he was continually questioned by clients regarding the situation.

"If you Google search my name, the first thing that comes up is this arrest," Wiley says. "You don't see that I've been a respected member of the community or a practitioner for 37 years."

Since his arrest, Wiley has been approached about caring for abandoned/injured fawns. Now, he thinks twice about what wildlife he is willing to treat, he says.

"If there was an injured animal lying in front of me I knew I could help, I would help it. I took an oath swearing I would use my knowledge to do so," Wiley says. "It's a shame the law can be misinterpreted in the way it was with me. I'd advise other veterinarians to become very familiar with their local laws before treating any wildlife."

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