A Scio veterinarian will be allowed to continue his practice while on probation after accepting a plea deal in an animal neglect case.
Brian James Dietrich, 43, owner of Scio Animal Clinic, pleaded no contest Sept. 20 in Linn County Circuit Court to three counts of second-degree animal neglect and received five years of probation.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped 27 counts of felony second-degree animal neglect, punishable by up to five years in prison.
While the pleading was not an official admission of guilt, a sentencing memorandum by defense attorney Geordie Duckler said Dietrich accepts “legal and moral responsibility for what he did.”
As a condition of probation, Deitrich was required to report to the Linn County Jail by Sept. 29 to serve 48 hours in jail, with credit for time served. He must then serve 10 days on a county work crew.
While on probation, Dietrich may continue working as a veterinarian but otherwise may not have pets or livestock in his care except for a dog, two cats, one horse and two mules already in his possession. According to state records, Dietrich’s license to practice veterinary medicine remains active.
He must also surrender 25 live sheep seized by Linn County, and pay the county $3,134 for costs incurred for the animals’ care.
On June 12, authorities acted on a tip and found 26 live sheep and one dead sheep in neglectful conditions on a Scio farm. The animals lacked access to potable water and some had injuries including open sores on hooves and chests from being confined in cramped conditions. A second sheep later died in custody.
Prosecutors were prepared to seek an enhanced sentence, claiming the neglect constituted “a violation of public trust or professional responsibility.”
Dietrich denied wrongdoing and was prepared to argue any injuries to the animals were in keeping with accepted veterinary and farming practices.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect the details of Dietrich’s sentencing.