Case Snapshot
Case ID: 11543
Classification: Beating
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
More cases in Maricopa County, AZ
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Abuse was retaliation against animal's bad behavior
Person(s) in animal care
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Monday, Jun 4, 2007

County: Maricopa

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Acquitted
Case Images: 1 files available

Person of Interest: Joshua Winston, DVM

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

A Sun City West veterinarian was arrested on suspicion of punching a five-pound Chihuahua five times in the head, temporarily blinding one eye of the dog.

Dr. Joshua Winston faces charges of animal cruelty and theft, according to a prepared statement from Maricopa County Sheriff's office.

Winston allegedly struck the Chihuahua's head five times and dislodged the dog's eye on June 4, according to the statement. The dog needed corrective surgery after the incident, according to the statement.

"Bella (the Chihuahua) has a good chance of regaining sight," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Two veterinary technicians witnessed the abuse and said that the uncooperative dog angered Winston, according to that statement.

"We concentrate on anybody; anybody who abuses animals will go to jail," Arpaio said. "It's discouraging that this would occur," Arpaio said.

Winston also faces theft charges from an incident earlier this year. The sheriff's department said Winston was supposed to vaccinate a feisty Neapolitan Mastiff, according to the statement. Winston put the medication down the sink, instead of vaccinating the dog, and charged the dog's owner $80, according to the statement.

"We don't give them (animal abusers) a court summons, we take them to jail," Arpaio said. "I hope that this is just an isolated incident."

Winston worked as the only doctor at the Sun City West Animal Hospital, near West Camino Del Sol and NRH Johnson Boulevard.

Arpaio said that these were the only incidents brought to officials' attention by the veterinary assistants. Arpaio said that if customers had concerns, officials would investigate the allegations.


Case Updates

A veterinarian accused of punching a Chihuahua in the head last summer was found not guilty of animal abuse charges on Tuesday.

Joshua Winston, owner of Sun City West Animal Hospital, was arrested June 11, 2007, after two vet technicians said he punched a 5-pound dog named Bella, causing one of the dog's eyes to become dislodged.

He was indicted by a county grand jury two weeks later.

The Maricopa County Attorney's office released the following statement about the decision:

"While this office and the court felt there was enough evidence to bring the case to trial we accept the jury's decision. Animal cruelty cases are serious and in this particular case the dog suffered substantial injuries. Unfortunately and oftentimes in animal cruelty cases the victims are defenseless. The County Attorney's Office will not be deterred from prosecuting such cases where appropriate."

Watch the ABC 15 video below:

Source: ABC 15 - Sept 10, 2008
Update posted on Sep 10, 2008 - 11:09PM 
A Sun City West veterinarian is speaking out after prosecutors charged him with animal cruelty on Monday.

Dr. Joshua Winston is accused of hitting a Chihuahua on its head so hard that the dog's eye dislodged.

He says he is being wrongly accused and points to his 25 years as a vet as proof.

"I've never had a complaint, I've never had an eyebrow raised against me, never any charges, worries or concerns," Winston said.

Investigators also claim Winston billed a patient for giving medication to their dog but actually threw the drugs in the trash.

"The basis of veterinarian medicine is faith in the profession," Winston admitted. "This has stripped me naked and rocked me to the soul."

Winston says he has spoken with the owner of the Chihuahua and explained to her the dog's eye dislodging was a "understandable event."
Source: ABC 15 - June 13, 2007
Update posted on Jun 13, 2007 - 4:52PM 
A Sun City West veterinarian accused of animal abuse and theft has been indicted.

A grand jury issued Dr. Joshua Winston's criminal indictment on June 29. Winston was charged with one count of animal abuse, a felony, and one count of misdemeanor theft.

"These allegations are very disturbing, especially against a veterinarian," said Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. "People who entrust their pets to veterinarians have every right to expect good medical care, not vicious abuse."

Winston was arrested June 11 after being accused of punching Bella, a five-pound Chihuahua five times in the head. Winston allegedly struck the Chihuahua's head three to five times and dislodged the dog's eye on June 4.

Winston was unable to repair the eye damage and sewed it shut, Thomas said. Bella needed corrective surgery after the incident.

Two veterinary technicians witnessed the abuse and said that the uncooperative dog angered Winston. One of the witnesses reported that Winston struck Bella three times, Thomas said.

Winston had a history with the Chihuahua, named Bella, since he performed a cesarean section for Bella's birth last year.

The theft charges come from a separate incident in earlier this year, when Winston was to vaccinate a Neapolitan Mastiff and instead of vaccinating the dog, Winston shot the vaccination into the air and charged the dog's owner, Jeff Orth, $80.

"We will aggressively prosecute this case," Thomas said at the conference.

Jean Steenbock, a customer of Winston's, said, "I'm very disappointed."

"I had hoped that if he could tell his side of the story things would have turned out differently," Steenbock said.

Steenbock has a 14-year-old Bichon she needs euthanized and said she was planning to have Winston perform the procedure.

"As long as Joshua Winston is a vet practicing out here, I will continue to use him," Steenbock said.

Winston is the owner of Sun City West Animal Hospital and is the sole doctor at the hospital.

The Arizona State Veterinary Examining Board and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigated the case. The County Attorney's Office filed a complaint with the Arizona State Veterinary Examining Board, and Thomas thanked Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his officials for their continued fight against animal abuse.
Source: AZ Central - July 10, 2007
Update posted on Jul 16, 2007 - 7:28AM 

References

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