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MESA/IRVINE: IRVINE

Accused Veterinarian's License Suspended

April 08, 1998|YUNG KIM

An administrative panel has temporarily suspended the license of an Irvine veterinarian accused of physically abusing cats at a local pet hospital.

The suspension will prevent Thomas H. Elston, founder of the T.H.E. Cat Hospital of Irvine, from practicing until an April 29 hearing before the Veterinary Medical Board.

The board will decide if his license should be permanently revoked.

Elston pleaded guilty in Municipal Court in Newport Beach last December to one count of cruelty to animals. But he said the conviction has since been dismissed as part of a plea agreement requiring him to complete an anger management counseling program.

In court documents released by the Veterinary Medical Board, Elston is accused of choking, stomping and smashing four cats against tables in response to feline scratches and bites. The incidents allegedly occurred from November 1996 to September 1997.

Elston said he looks forward to defending his actions at the April 29 hearing.

"The incidents involved restraining cats, which were injuring employees, and inexperienced people misunderstanding and exaggerating what they saw," Elston said.

"This has been devastating. All we do is take care of cats. It is hard to listen to [the charges] and very frustrating."

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