Michigan state veterinary board rules against Dr. Pol

March 26, 2015

Controversial reality TV veterinarian calls his approach 'common sense.'

Jan Pol, DVM, owner of Pol Veterinary Services in Weidman, Michigan, holds Mr. Pigglesworth, who is owned by Mable and Loyd Frisbie, at right. The treatment Pol provided Mr. Pigglesworth after the dog was struck by a car in 2011 is at the center of the negligence and incompetence charges against him. The Frisbies have gone public with their support of Pol. Photo courtesy of Nancy McCarty Iannios, Core PR GroupThe disciplinary subcommittee of the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine took action against Jan Pol, DVM, in regard to the charges of negligence and incompetence brought against him last year. The charges stem from a veterinary case featured on Nat Geo Wild's reality television series "The Incredible Dr. Pol," of which Pol is the star.

Pol, who owns Pol Veterinary Services in Weidman, Michigan, was ordered by the board to pay a $500 fine that must be paid within 90 days of the ruling and one year probation in which he must complete continued eduation in IV fluids, anesthesia, as well as, emergency and critical care courses. While on probation, Pol can have no violations of the state health code. This is consistent with the board's previous disciplinary action against Pol, who, in 2012, was ordered to pay a $500 fine and complete continuing education in the areas of documentation and record keeping, small animal reproduction, and ultrasound techniques and interpretation, as a result of a complaint regarding a 2010 incident.

The veterinary board met March 26 in Lansing, Michigan, to discuss the recommendation of the administrative law judge who heard testimony in January in regard to the charges. While the judge's decision has not been made public, it was safe to assume prior to the board's ruling that the opinion did not fall in Pol's favor. Pol chose to release a statement the week of the ruling defending his practice philosophy and treatment decisions. The owners of the dog at the center of the case also went public with their support of Pol-even posing for a photo with Pol holding their dog, Mr. Pigglesworth.

Pol and his son, Charles Pol, who is cast in the show as a non-credentialed assistant to his father, remain adamant that Mr. Pigglesworth received treatment that met the standard of care at a price the dog's owners could afford. “Dr. Pol successfully treated Lloyd and Mabel Frisbie's dog Mr. Pigglesworth for $250, a price they could afford at a standard of care which two full-time practicing veterinarians testified met the minimum standards of care," Charles told dvm360. "Four years later, Mr. Pigglesworth is perfectly fine, his owners are more than happy with the care and treatment that Dr. Pol provided, yet the state believes that tax dollars should be spent to investigate a case where everyone involved could not have asked for better results. Under the standards of care set by the state agency, the Frisbie's would have been forced to put their dog down or taken him home to suffer.” 

Pol has long been criticized in the veterinary community by those who believe his top-rated show glorifies substandard or outdated veterinary care. 

His publicist Nancy Iannios disputes the notion. “Dr. Pol is committed to the well-being and care for his clients-animals and owners-and he understands the dire need to offer his clients affordable veterinary care within their financial means. But affordable care does not mean substandard care as some critics have mischaracterized his practice. Dr. Pol knows his patients intimately after more than 40 years of practice, and he understands better than anyone else, that pet owners are faced with difficult decisions, such as having to put their pets down when they can't afford a large vet bill. His philosophy is to provide all the necessary treatments required by state law while respecting the financial situations in his rural community. Dr. Pol will continue to provide low cost care and will not stop while one person's animal suffers untreated."

The investigation into Mr. Pigglesworth's care was spurred by a complaint filed by Eden Myers, DVM, of Austin, Texas, after she watched an episode that followed the treatment of the 2-year-old Boston terrier that was hit by car. The Nat Geo Wild network touts Pol's work as an "old-school" approach to veterinary medicine. Pol calls it "a common sense approach to treatment and care." The Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine has come to its own conclusion. From here, Pol can appeal.

Click here to read Pol's recent statement and here to read a statement from the owners of Mr. Pigglesworth.