State disciplines TV’s ‘Incredible Dr. Pol’ for veterinary negligence

Dr. Jan Pol outside a meeting in Lansing regarding allegations that he did not meet standards for animal care. (March 26, 2015)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The state board that regulates Michigan veterinarians voted Thursday afternoon to discipline Dr. Jan Pol.

Pol, 72, is well-known as the star of his own reality TV show called “The Incredible Dr. Pol.” The show, which airs on National Geographic Wild on cable, documents the care Pol gives to animals in Weidman, Mich., a small town northwest of Mount Pleasant in Isabella County.

Thursday, two dozen supporters of Pol gathered in Lansing hoping to convince the Board of Veterinary Medicine to drop the case.

Regardless, the board’s disciplinary subcommittee voted three to one to place Pol on probation for one year, require that he take continuing education courses and fine the rural veterinarian $500.

The case centered around Pol’s treatment of a Boston Terrier named Mr. Pigglesworth, which was featured on Pol’s TV show. An out-of-state veterinarian saw the episode highlighting Mr. Pigglesworth’s case and filed a complaint with the state of Michigan, accusing Pol of violating the public health code.

The complainant alleged that Pol failed to wear proper protective gear during the surgery, among other allegations. The state’s investigator agreed, also finding that Pol failed to provide appropriate anesthetic and respiratory support during the surgery.

“I do find there is a preponderance of evidence that Dr. Pol rendered veterinary services which failed to meet the minimum standards found prevailing in the veterinary practice,” wrote Shawn Downey, the administrative law judge who heard evidence and testimony in the case.

Pol’s supporters were upset they were not allowed to speak their minds at Thursday’s meeting before the disciplinary subcommittee announced its decision. They argued that the board was denying them — and Pol — due process. But members of the veterinary board stressed that witness testimony had been received and considered prior to Thursday’s meeting.

Mr. Pigglesworth survived the operation and is doing fine. In fact, the dog joined his owners in the room at the hearing’s conclusion. The dog’s owners say they are grateful to Pol for the care he provided.

Pol, who denied all allegations of negligence or incompetence, said he has not decided whether he will appeal the board’s decision.

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