Horse owner sues Texas A&M veterinary department for malpractice

A woman in Cypress is suing the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, saying her horse had worse injuries leaving the veterinarian than before its visit and that it never recovered from the injuries. She says the horse, Dazzle, eventually had to be put down.

Heather Kutyba says she raised Dazzle from birth on a Cypress farm. She says two and a half years after taking Dazzle in to the veterinarian for a sore hoof, she is still begging for answers as to what caused her horse to leave with injuries that eventually led to Dazzle’s death.

“When she was born, she sat in my lap, and here was this wet filly, and she was better than anything that I had ever seen in this world,” says Kutyba. “She dazzled me.”

Kutyba says Dazzle was a healthy happy filly when she took her to the veterinarian at five months old for a sore hoof.

“She’d just kind of set her foot aside when she was resting,” adds Kutyba. “At a walk she looked fine.”

Kutyba says she chose the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University because she wanted the best care. She took Dazzle to see veterinarian Ashlee Watts.

“Ashlee Watts directly told me that she had not one but two fractures in the foot and then proceeded again to recommend a course of treatment by placing some orthopedic shoes on her,” says Kutyba. "That seemed really strange to me at the time, considering she was completely weight bearing on the limb and she walked without assistance.”

Kutyba says after the veterinary visit, Dazzle was no longer the rowdy frisky foal she once was — she stopped walking as much. She took Dazzle back with new concerns.

Kutyba says the complications only got worse before she brought her filly in for a third visit, this time a ten-day stay on the campus, and Dazzle’s mobility reached its worst point yet.

“Doctor Watts had essentially told me in short order that my filly had to be forced to rise and wasn’t doing so independently and didn’t want to move, and that was concerning information to me,” says Kutyba. “Dazzle looked terrible. She certainly wasn’t in the condition that I left her.”

This time the Texas A&M veterniarians gave the horse pain killers, according to Kutyba.

“She looked painful over her entire hip region,” says Kutyba. “She was non-weight-bearing on a hind leg, but she was definitely not using either one of them correctly.”

Kutyba brought Dazzle home where she shot videos of the horse trying and failing to get up off the ground.

“Dazzle was completely unable to rise on her own accord if she laid down...” says Kutyba. “At this point, she didn’t feel good. She was clearly in pain.”

Kutyba says Texas A&M told her Dazzle’s issues were due to her growing rapidly.

This time, Kutyba contacted local veterinarians who came to her barn and administered pain killers.

Kutyba says x-ray results later showed the filly had a fractured pelvis. She also says she nursed Dazzle’s injures with pain killers in the barn for the rest of 2015 and all of 2016, spending thousands of dollars for her care. She filed a complaint with the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the board opened an investigation that year.

In February 2017, with no improvement in her health, Dazzle was euthanized.

“I have a hard time coming into the barn, ‘cause I spent fifteen months trying to save Dazzle, and I couldn’t ultimately, and the kindest thing was to let her go,” describes Kutyba. She later filed a lawsuit against Texas A&M for malpractice.

Kutyba has since bought a new horse, Tilley, and is trying to start again.

“She’s perfectly healthy and so I’m hoping to learn to love again,” says Kutyba.

It’s now been two years since the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners began investigating Texas A&M. The board has not finished that investigation, so Heather filed a lawsuit against the board. FOX 26 News contacted the board for comment and was told it does not comment on pending litigation.

As for Texas A&M, it did not respond on Friday to FOX 26 calls and messages for comment.