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Man beats up veterinarian after dog dies in surgery

February 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
An Oak View man was arrested for assaulting a veterinarian Thursday after his dog died in surgery

Scott Doornbos, 55, took his 5-year-old dog "Zeka" to Ojai veterinarian Dr. Steve Sallen at the Ojai Village Veterinary Hospital Thursday morning. The dog died during surgery.

Doornbos was then informed of his dog's death. He confronted the veterinarian who treated the dog and allegedly battered him, causing significant injury, according to police.

"I'm deeply sorry for what happened with that. I hope that he could only understand that, you know, my emotions versus his," said Doornbos.

Doornbos admits his emotions got the best of him.

"I'm sure I was wrong for going and being upset," said Doornbos. "And I think that he was wrong too in the way that he handled this."

Doornbos says the staff at the clinic told him his dog was fine, only to call back a few minutes later to tell him that his dog had died.

"It's like a child, it's like a stab in the heart," said Doornbos.

Doornbos surrendered to police Thursday afternoon. Detectives interviewed him and arrested him on a felony charge of battery with serious bodily injury. He was booked in Ventura and held on $20,000 bond.

Authorities say Sallen suffered serious injuries in the attack, but Doornbos says most of the physical contact between him and the veterinarian was accidental.

"I just kind of did a little defensive move to stop him, and I put my hand up, swung my hand up like that, come in contact with his nose, or face, and then he laid back down, and screaming and yelling at me," said Doornbos.

No one at the hospital wanted to comment about Thursday's incident.

In a written statement, family spokeswoman Ellen Sklarz said: "[Dr. Sallen] is under the care of a doctor and we're not sure at this point the extent of his injuries. Under advisement of the family's attorney, they are not going to speak to the press."

Friday night, in another written statement, Sklarz added: "In response to erroneous, inaccurate statements made by the assailant, Scott Droonbos, the dog did survive the surgery, awakened, and then died post-op...thus, the two consecutive phone calls from Dr. Sallen's office to Doornbros."

Doornbos bailed out Friday morning after spending the night in jail. He is due in Ventura County Superior Court March 1.