Reality TV's Dr. Pol awaits state ruling on licensing complaint


Michigan veterinarian faces two charges, including negligence and incompetence.

An administrative hearing was held for reality television star Jan Pol, DVM, on Jan. 15. The investigation was spurred by a complaint from Eden Myers, DVM, after she watched an episode of Pol's Nat Geo Wild reality show, The Incredible Dr. Pol, in 2012.

Dr. Jan Pol is the star of Nat Geo Wild's "The Incredible Dr. Pol."The Michigan Attorney General's office, acting legal counsel for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, has charged Pol with two counts of violation of the state's public health code. The first was a violation of general duty, consisting of negligence or failure to exercise due care, including negligent delegation to or supervision of employees or other individuals, and, the other was a charge of incompetence.

In 2011, a 2-year-old Boston terrier, Mr. Pigglesworth, was brought to Pol Veterinarian Services in Weidman, Michigan, after a car had struck the dog. According to the administrative complaint and as seen on the 2012 episode, the dog's eye was hanging from its socket; he also had a lacerated cheek, rocks embedded in his oral tissues and an injured pelvis. Pol also notes that the dog was in shock.

During surgery to remove the eye, suture the eye socket closed and suture the cheek laceration, Pol failed to wear a cap, mask and gown, according to Myers' complaint. The complaint further states that Pol's unlicensed son, Charles, assisted in the surgery and that Pol failed to provide IV therapy to the dog during the surgical procedure or a warming pad or blanket to line the dog's postoperative kennel.

Administrative Law Judge Shawn Downey presided over Pol's hearing in January. At this time the judge's recommendation has not yet been made public. The Michigan State Veterinary Board will either reject or accept the recommendation and decide whether to issue Pol a penalty. Jeannie Vogel with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says the earliest the case may be discussed is at the March 26 board meeting but that it will likely be later.

In the meantime, comment boards on Myers' “Cancel 'Incredible Dr. Pol' show” Facebook page and Nat Geo Wild's website are populated with Pol supporters along with veterinary professionals and animal advocates who allege professional violations spanning his six television seasons.

The Incredible Dr. Pol is Nat Geo Wild's No. 1 series. The network has staunchly defended Pol, even posting on a petition calling for the show's cancellation, “Dr. Pol has been practicing with a common sense approach to veterinary medicine for more than 40 years, saving thousands of sick and injured animals. It is unfortunate select individuals have rushed to judgment without truly understanding the work he has done over the years within his economically depressed community, or ever watching an entire episode of the series. ... Nat Geo WILD will continue to support Dr. Pol, as he is as passionate about animals as we are.”

In 2012, Pol was found guilty of negligence and incompetence related to the treatment of a German shorthair named Mocha. He met the terms of his probation in the fall of that year and had a “full and unencumbered license” when charged with the latest violations.

Despite criticism, Pol told dvm360 after his 2012 guilty ruling that he had no plans to stop doing his show. As long as his clients were pleased with his work, he said, he didn't worry about his critics.

Pol did not respond to dvm360's requests for comment.

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