Trial begins for former veterinarian charged with animal cruelty

The trial of a former Williamson County veterinarian accused of operating on animals in her kitchen without a license began Wednesday.

Elisa Kirkpatrick’s veterinarian license was suspended in 2015, but former clients testified they did not know that happened when she picked up their pets to be taken for surgery in May of 2015. Kirkpatrick is charged with animal cruelty, aggravated cruel treatment of an animal and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.

Witnesses called include Ed Barwick, the animal control officer from Williamson County who responded to a call of potential animal hoarding with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department on May 22. Other witnesses included former clients of Kirkpatrick who say she performed surgery on their pets, and they thought she was a licensed veterinarian. Jason Snoddy says his dog, Chief, was taken in by Kirkpatrick to have testicle surgery. She removed what investigators call a fist-sized tumor from the dog. That same tumor, investigators say, was found on the kitchen floor.  Chief died one day after investigators discovered the dog and many others inside Kirkpatrick’s house.

Investigators described her home as having an unbearable scent. They said they were able to smell feces and urine coming from the house from 30 to 40 feet away. Inside the home, they say some animals in cages were standing in fecal matter up to their knees. Cats, dogs, a bobcat, a pig and birds were removed from her home. From a barn on Kirkpatrick’s property, investigators also removed three donkeys, a rabbit, a cow and roosters.

According to testimony, another dog in Kirkpatrick’s home had gotten his foot caught in his cage. One witness testified the dog had chewed off its toes and much of its foot.

Barwick testified they found dozens of dead animal carcasses in the basement. The bodies were in trash bags, many of them stuffed inside freezers that had no power. Live animals in crates and a hog were running around in the basement, near the carcasses.

Through testimony, the defense read statements from Kirkpatrick’s interview with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department that said she loved her animals and that she was desperate for the money.

The bench trial for Elisa Kirkpatrick is set to resume Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at the Williamson County Courthouse.

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