Former owner of Waunakee Vet Clinic charged with animal abuse; allegations include kicking, hitting animals

WAUNAKEE, Wis. — The former owner of the Waunakee Veterinary Clinic is charged with six counts of intentionally mistreating animals.

Court records said a Dane County Public Health Environmental Health supervisor contacted Waunakee police in July of this year, with concerns about reports that Dr. Wesley Arnett had kicked and struck animals in his care several times at the clinic.

According to his Linkedin page, Dr. Wesley Arnett owned the clinic since 2007. It lists him as the current owner, but a Facebook post from the Waunakee Veterinary Clinic said the hospital is under new ownership and Dr. Arnett is no longer a member of the hospital team.

A spokesperson with the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection confirmed Arnett’s veterinary license was suspended in September but said they could not comment further because it is an ongoing investigation.

Video from the clinic and provided by an employee reportedly showed Dr. Arnett picking up a dog by the neck area and striking it this summer while yelling “knock it off” at the dog, who was showing signs of fear during an appointment to have its blood drawn.

Employees also told investigators they feared Dr. Arnett had restricted their access to the video system after he had heard them talking about his mistreatment of animals.

Police interviewed numerous employees at the clinic who had personally witnessed the alleged abuse multiple times over the years.

The abuse was a factor in one employee leaving the clinic this fall, the employee told police.

That employee told police she had personally seen Dr. Arnett slam a Great Dane into the wall while trying to get her out of the kennel, scream at a long-haired terrier and slam his head on the floor, and hit a Shepherd mix on the head while the dog was struggling during an exam.

Another employee said Dr. Arnett grabbed a dog’s muzzled snout with so much force that the dog’s mouth bled, and she had to explain to the owners when she took the dog back why its mouth was bleeding.

That employee said one incident was so disturbing that she had to look away when it happened. After another similar abuse incident, court records say an employee told police that Dr. Arnett had showed “no remorse” and did not address what had happened with staff. Another time, after hitting a small dog with his closed fist while carrying it, he apologized to the employee that saw it and “seemed embarrassed.”

Another employee said Dr. Arnett yanked a small corgi mix through a doorway by its leash, then kicked it with enough force that the dog fell two feet away.

“She had been shocked by the defendant’s behavior and didn’t know what to do,” court records stated.

In total, police subpoenaed records related to six animal patients for their investigation.

About Dr. Arnett, and the clinic’s response

His bio on the clinic’s website said he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in 2006.

He has also been a member of the Dane County Veterinary Medical Association, Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association, according to his bio.

News 3 Now contacted the current team members of the Waunakee Veterinary Clinic for an interview, which they respectfully declined, saying the team was emotionally distraught by the situation. They did, however, provide a statement they wished to share:

“The Waunakee Veterinary Clinic Team was offered an opportunity to do an interview with Channel 3 news, but we respectfully declined. Our team is emotionally distraught 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 any 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.”

In a social media post, the hospital said they have zero tolerance for the behavior, and that no other team members from the clinic have been implicated or involved in the allegations.

“We recognize there will be concern and anger associated with these allegations.  As veterinary healthcare providers, we are united in that every patient should receive care in the most gentle and loving manner possible,” their statement read.

“We consider all our patients as an extension of our own family.  We will continue to earn your trust and support as we get through this difficult time together.  We are committed to taking the responsibility you trust us with every day with the compassion and professionalism you and your pets deserve.”

The clinic said they were working with “all governmental bodies” to ensure a thorough investigation.