Waunakee veterinarian accused of abusing multiple animals at clinic

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A Dane Co. veterinarian faces multiple allegations of abusing several dogs and a cat that were being treated at his clinic. Dr. Wesley Arnett faces six counts of mistreating animals that all occurred when he owned Waunakee Veterinary Clinic, according to court documents filed on Monday.

In a statement on its website and Facebook page, the clinic reported Arnett is no longer owned nor is still affiliated with the clinic.

The complaint details nine accounts given by employees, nearly all of whom investigators told they personally witnessed Arnett during at least one of the incidents. The complaint lists seven animals as having been abused. The six charges against the defendant account for six of the animals.

No charge was filed in relation to the seventh animal, a Great Dane. That incident, in which Arnett allegedly slammed the dog against a wall, was one of the ones that prompted the anonymous complaint that led to the investigation, investigators said.

Court records show Arnett, 45, is due in court for an initial appearance next Monday.

(Note: Descriptions of some of the alleged abuse incidents are included below.)

According to the complaint, the Waunakee Police Department joined the investigation into Arnett in July at the request of the Dane Co. Public Health Environmental Health Supervisor. The supervisor told a WPD detective about the reports Arnett kicked and struck patients and provided emails from the Veterinarian Examining Board that the detective believed showed the defendant had been abusive.

A month later, an Animal Services Officer gave the police department a video showing an incident, possibly from June 2022, the complaint continued. Prosecutors state the detective reported seeing Arnett picking up the dog, which looked like a Labrador retriever, by the neck and hitting it, while yelling ‘knock it off.’

The other incidents were attributed to statements from witnesses, most of whom had worked at the clinic for several years. They recounted the abuse that included kicking dogs (in one case, so hard, a dog described as a “little white fluff ball” was knocked back two feet), slamming them against walls, and kicking them. A cat was reportedly punched several times with a closed fist.

One person told investigators she quit several weeks earlier, partly because of the incident she saw. Another witness claimed to have left the clinic two years ago and only came back after she was assured she would not have to work with Arnett. This individual also accused Arnett of drinking while on the job.

The complaint adds information was gathered to indicate Arnett cut off access to the video system for the treatment area, stating it happened after he learned of discussions about animal abuse. Arnett is also accused of accessing employees’ email accounts after learning of the Veterinary Board investigation to delete any video of the mistreatment.

The complaint listed five owners, one of whom was an animal shelter, who were contacted by the investigating detective, all of whom said they were unaware of what happened.

The clinic released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying its team was “emotionally disturbed” by the charges and reiterated that Arnett no longer worked at the clinic.

“The Waunakee Veterinary Clinic Team was offered an opportunity to respond to NBC15 News, but has respectfully declined to any interviews. Our team is emotionally disturbed by the charges brought against the former owner of Waunakee Veterinary Clinic. None of our current team of veterinary professionals have been implicated or involved in the charges. We are uncomfortable with making each individual team member become the “face” of this terrible situation. As the current team at Waunakee Veterinary Clinic, we have dedicated our lives to the veterinary oath to prevent and relieve animal suffering, and in line with that oath, the incidents in question were self-reported by hospital team members to the appropriate authorities. We will continue to cooperate with governmental authorities throughout the investigation, and we are devastated by the actions of the former owner.”

Patrons of the clinic say they are shocked by the news, some seeing it for the first time on the clinic’s Facebook page.

“Yeah, I… I gasped,” said Brenda McMiller, who says she and her husband have taken pets there for the past 30 years. “I never don’t trust them with our animals.”

And she is not alone, as dozens of comments on the page voice surprise over the news.

“To be completely honest, I thought, has the man developed a brain tumor?” said Brenda Davey, who says she first went to the clinic back in 2004. “Because what I was reading was not the man who took care of my animals.”

While Davey and McMiller voiced concerns over Arnett, both said they would still go back to Waunakee Veterinary Clinic, saying they still trust the rest of the staff.

“Because I know, everybody that works there, this is not them,” said Davey.

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By hadem