News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Scio vet denies sheep neglect

A Scio veterinarian accused of seriously neglecting a herd of sheep is arguing his actions were not criminal but rather the result of common farming and veterinary practices.

Brian Dietrich, 43, owner of Scio Animal Clinic, filed a notice in Linn County Circuit Court Aug. 8 declaring his intent to rely on affirmative defenses against 27 counts of second-degree animal neglect.

He claims his alleged actions fall under a state law that allows injuries to animals in the context of practices like hunting, farming, animal testing and veterinary medicine. 

Dietrich specifically cited the exemptions for “good animal husbandry practices” and “good veterinary practices.”

Details of what specific practices exempted Deitrich were not included in the notice. 

The law in question has been criticized by animal rights groups who claim it legalizes animal cruelty, and they are pursuing a 2024 ballot measure that would remove most exemptions.

Dietrich was arrested last month after authorities received a tip in June that a herd of sheep owned by Dietrich was being kept in unhealthy conditions on a Scio farm. The Linn County Sheriff’s Office observed 26 live sheep and one dead sheep that were allegedly neglected for a prolonged period, including a lack of potable water.

Alleged injuries to some animals included rotten hooves, sore joints, and sores on their chests from being confined close to the ground. The animals were seized by Linn County and one more sheep died in custody.

While awaiting trial, Deitrich is not allowed to have livestock or pets in his personal care. His veterinary license remains active and The Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board said it is not allowed to disclose if a licensee is being investigated. The board did confirm he received two minor sanctions in the past. In 2017 he was fined $250 for prescribing antidepressants to a human through his veterinary license, and in 2018 was fined $250 for providing care to a dog without keeping a complete patient record.

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