Retired Veterinarian's Website Under Fire
Ronald Hines, 69, is now retired but he TMs worked as a veterinarian for most of his life and all around the world.
"I've worked with Sea World, I've owned three animal hospitals (and) I practiced along the Syrian border," Hines said.
He now concentrates on taking care of his bees, 17 chickens and his 70-pound dog Max. He's also kept busy since 2002 by giving animal owners his opinion and advice on what health care action to take when their pets are injured or sick, on the internet. He started the website 2ndchance.info.
"Basically I give people options I tell them, you know, some of the things they might be able to do to make things better (for their pets), Hines said. They have someone to talk to, someone they can always call, someone they can e-mail."
After more than 10 years of giving advice on the Web and serving thousands of animal owners, he said that last year he got a surprising call from the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
They informed him that what he was doing through his website may violate the Veterinary Licensing Act.
The Act states that a veterinarian-patient relationship cannot be solely based through telephone or electronic means.
"Well I'm breaking a law, Hines said. The question is, can people tell me I can't correspond with anyone I want to on the internet? And people aren't allowed to write me and ask me questions?"
Hines believes the board is violating his freedom of speech and has filed a federal suit against them.
He said he wouldn't have served thousands of people around the world if he thought what he was doing was wrong. He believes the Web will also be a future means for younger generations of veterinarians.
"They tell me what concerns them and I give them my best opinion, Hines said. I TMm not saying I TMm always right, but I tell them what I would do if I were in their place and it were my pet and I loved it."
TBVME Executive Director Nicole Oria tells Action 4 News they have not been served with the lawsuit.