Vet practiced declawing operation on a cat that owner asked to be euthanized

This is an extraordinary story of a Korean/American veterinarian who was found to have been practicing a declawing operation using newly acquired laser equipment on a cat that was at the clinic to be euthanized. Update: this article was written about 12-13 years ago. I don’t have the exact date. It is therefore an interesting piece of American veterinary history but because it is so outrageous, I felt I needed to check the article and refresh it and also republish it to today’s date.

Dr Hah

Dr Hah. Photo: Remarkably, this photograph of the doctor in question is still on the animal hospital website where he worked. This is many years later and this doctor was struck off. I find that very strange.

The vet

The vet, Byoung Hah at Angels Care Animal Hospital in Upland and Pomona, had recommended to the cat’s caretaker that Sachi, her cat be euthanised. That was on 29th October 2007.

Mr Hah, in violation of common decency and morality and against normal practices, decided to declaw Sachi using laser declawing equipment that had been newly acquired. Obviously, there was no instruction to do this nor was there a reason to do it in the interests of the or the cat’s owner.

I can only suppose as referred to in the title that Hah had decided to take the opportunity to practice a declawing operation using the new equipment with which he was probably unfamiliar.

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Sachi was an ideal subject as even if he screwed up it would not matter because the cat was going to be killed anyway. He did not inform the client – the cat’s caretaker. We don’t know whether Dr Hah (as he then was before being struck off) allowed the cat to wake up after the operation and feel the pain. If he did, of course, that would make what he did doubly disgraceful.

It appears that he cut the cat as there were cuts on the eye and abdomen. We have a fellow hospital employee to thank for providing evidence of this grisly and grossly indecent behavior.

Mr Hah was also in violation of other elements of a vet’s code of practice and was struck off.

He has returned to Korea to teach! The new vet who has replaced Mr Hah has rectified the problems.

This is the original article: Upland vet’s license revoked

The original story does not spell out what I think was happening but common-sense dictates that my presumption that he was practicing using new laser equipment on a cat destined for death must be the most obvious deduction.

Do you think other vets have done similar things?

Added information – updated Jan 1, 2022

Because I’m republishing the page, I am going to take the opportunity to fill it out a bit with some more detail. These are allegations even at this late stage because I don’t know the full extent of the charges and how they were dealt with.

The veterinarian in question, worked out Angels Care Animal Hospital in Upland and Pomona. His licence was revoked by the California Veterinary Medical Board. The reasons for being struck off also included improper record keeping and using expired drugs.

Mary Coffman, the president of Helping out Pets Every Day, an Upland-based animal rescue charity said that “This smacks of animal cruelty to me because this is someone who takes an oath to be a veterinarian and if you’re reading what it says he was cutting corners”.

What I am reading is that he wasn’t cutting just corners but being highly immoral and cruel. I suppose her reference to cutting corners might be to the failure to keep proper records.

At the tribunal where he was struck off a board-certified small animal veterinarian, Walter Holtan, gave evidence. He said that it is standard practice to euthanise a pet immediately after the owner provides the vet with consent to do so.

In this instance, the owner of the cat in question had asked Hah to euthanise his/her cat. He did not do it immediately. He kept the cat alive in the hospital for three days.

After the client had visited and left her cat behind, an employee found that the cat had cuts on the abdomen and eye. One of the cuts had been sutured.

The cat was eventually euthanised and this employee took photographs as evidence.

A hospital employee testified that during the three days the cat was kept alive she saw Hah perform a declawing procedure with newly acquired laser equipment.

It wasn’t just the callous immorality of performing the practice declawing operation which resulted in this man being struck off. There were numerous other citations, 18 in all including reusing unsterilised equipment which resulted in animals acquiring infections which they should not have acquired. And he repackaged out of date medicines into new boxes, apparently.

The link on this page to the report is stomach churning really because it shows a terrible attitude by a veterinarian towards animal welfare. It seems to me that his behaviour cost the lives of some animals in his care. I don’t know whether the clients received compensation. They should have but they probably didn’t.

Laser declawing - Photo copyright

Laser declawing – Photo copyright

I have published a photo from this page of the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center website – thank you. This hospital did do declawing operations but were banned under the Los Angeles declawing ban.

Comments for
Practicing Declawing On Cat To Be Euthanized

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Apr 08, 2012
Unconscionable NEW
by: Dee Florida

I don’t know what else to say!

Apr 04, 2012
Vets and trust NEW
by: Julian pirog

I have come to distrust ALL vets but the ones who work for charitable trusts. I have four Cats and get charged many times for follow up which really should be in the original price. On the whole I have been frightened by vets who wish to undertake tests many times unnecessary and also the meds they give Ste often the same as for us. An example. Prednisone. I was charged forty pounds for six 5 ml tablets. They cost 60 pence for a months supply at 8 tabs a day. Private practice vets can be very difficult to trust indeed.
This declawing is disgusting and I really cannot verbalise how angry I am with it. My Brother did it to his Cat. I have not not will I talk to him again.
The PDSA and RSPCA vets ate fabulous so I go
There and give them the money as they need it. I find them caring and compassionate which I cannot say about private vet practices

Apr 03, 2012
Not Surprised NEW
by: Kathleen

I don’t know how many other vets have done this, but I do know after working in animal hospitals for years that it is very common for vets NOT to tell their clients any number of things that they have done (or neglected to do, as the case may be) to their pets. Never patronize a vet that won’t allow you “in the back” with your pet.

Apr 03, 2012
Who can you trust NEW
by: Rose

Who can you trust if you can’t trust your vet?
Supposing he was advising euthanasia merely to get his hands on more cats to practice on?
Thank God for the person speaking out about this disgraceful vet.
This casts doubt over all the profession as it may be happening to countless animals for all we know.

Apr 03, 2012
Horrible NEW
by: Barbara

This really is horrendous what a betrayal of that poor doomed cat, my first thought on this was that there really is a worse fate than death and that is to be in the hands of an unscrupulous, low life grave robbing “vet” like this “person” who I am quite sure HAD (and probably still does)performed atrocities on animals in this situation before. Struck off but returned home to teach, I can’t begin to imagine the hell of a veterinary surgery in Korea if this is how animals are treated by Koreans in the US. And this “vet” an example of the calibre of the tutors.

Oh yes, aren’t cats part of the diet in Korea? Maybe a quick lunchtime sarnie then from that day’s PTS’s!

It probably goes on all over the world all the time, probably here in England, certainly in veterinary training, it sickens me to be honest and it emphasises that when a beloved animal comes to the end of his or her life then they shouldn’t be taken to the vet and trustingly left there to face their fate alone, but should be protected right up until the moment of death by the owner’s presence and then taken home for the last time for private disposal.

Barbara avatar


Apr 03, 2012
Dreadful! NEW
by: Ruth

This is absolutely dreadful and how many more animals to be euthanised did Hah experiment on before he killed them?
It seems unlikely it wasn’t a regular thing he did but he got unlucky when he was found out and reported.
If I lived in a country where vets declawed I would never let one of those vets anywhere near our cats because they break their oath every time they declaw a cat.
If they do that, what else do they do with no conscience?
We know that using a laser takes some expertise but we don’t know how (or if) all the vets using it learn to use that laser equipment.
The blood runs cold to think of it.
It’s sad that because of some corrupt vets we can’t fully trust any vet at all these days.
My advice to anyone having to have a pet euthanised is to stay with him/her while it’s done or at the very least wait and make sure to see the body afterwards.
Don’t let what happened to that poor cat happen to your pet!

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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