Former SPCA Employee Faces Felony Charges

RENO, NV - According to court documents, 37-year-old Hope Hawkinson claimed to be a certified vet tech in another state and was working on certification in Nevada.

But the SPCA says it wasn't interested in those qualifications.

That's because Hawkinson was going to be hired as a clinical manager at the facility—a job that required no certification, and fewer qualification than a vet tech.

“She was hired as a clinical manager, to come in and run our clinic. Making sure everything was set up for a veterinarian to do spays and neuters. To do a health check on our animals along with a vet tech and a veterinarian. To do vaccines on animals with the exception of rabies that's a veterinarian's task,” says Tom Jacobson, Executive Director of SPCA Northern Nevada.

But according to a state veterinary board investigation, Hawkinson went well beyond her scope of knowledge and expertise, performed surgery on a privately owned animal in a SPCA procedure room, and very nearly killed the animal.

Court documents say the incident involved dog, Indigo who suffered from bladder stones.

In late September 2012, his owner, a volunteer at the SPCA, allowed Hawkinson to make incisions into the dog's urethra to locate and remove the stones.

Indigo's owner says Hawkinson told her she had done the procedure before.

The owner says she took her dog home, but within 24 hours the dog was in terrible pain and still blocked.

Within days the dog was bleeding so badly, he was taken to another private veterinarian who performed surgery and saved Indigo, who was profusely bleeding.

But performing surgery wasn't Hawkinson's only problem.

Court documents indicate Hawkinson, who was in charge of giving animals medication, wasn't providing that medication, and that Hawkinson had ordered Hydrocodone not approved by the facility's veterinarian as required by law.

The court document shows 2 containers of one hundred pills each were delivered to the clinic.

Hawkinson received one, another worker received another.

But there was no documentation in the clinic as to where and when they had been used.

Jacobs says Hawkinson was terminated just after the Indigo incident.

He says the state veterinarian board surveyed the SPCA and found the facility's policies and procedures were in compliance with state regulations.

Hawkinson, he says, was someone who didn't work by the rules, and wasn't found out until it was almost too late.

“Breaking the rules, and you know potentially the law, if they go beyond the scope of that. And we'll take appropriate action,” says Jacobs.

The DEA is investigating the incident involving the controlled substance issue allegedly involving Hawkinson.

Jacobs says the events with Hawkinson are isolated incidents involving one employee and do no reflect the character of the staff at the SPCA or the kind of animal care the community can expect to receive at the SPCA.

Hawkinson was arrested on Monday but did not show up for her court appearance on Tuesday..

The Attorney Generals Office is handling the case but would not return KOLO 8 News Now calls asking about possible penalties for Hawkinson should she be convicted on the two felonies, or if they were concerned that she did not show up to court for her initial appearance.

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