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Vet arrested for allowing her horse’s tooth to grow into its nose

By William Martin 1:38 PM November 7, 2017
Dr. Gail Nichols and Paul Smith

(Scroll down for video) A veterinarian and her husband were both arrested after being accused of neglecting their animals, according to police in Florida.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said that they have arrested 66-year-old Dr. Gail Nichols and 74-year-old Paul Smith, both of Lakeland, on an animal cruelty charge.

On August 17, 2017, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Crimes detectives began an investigation of animal neglect and animal cruelty that revealed Nichols and Smith confined animals belonging to them and failed to supply them with necessary medical and basic care, causing them to suffer.

Multiple animals were seized from the two owners.

While in the care of the Polk County Animal Control, a medical evaluation and routine maintenance of dental care by a veterinarian revealed a severe infection and an overgrown tooth in a horse.

The overgrown bottom tooth pushed the top tooth into the horse’s nasal cavity, causing a large gap.

Once the top tooth was removed, a second infection and cavity was found next to the removed tooth that was packed with feed and infection that was pouring out through the horse’s nose.

Investigation and medical reports by Dr. K. Hennessy and dental equine specialist Dr. John Bivens determined the animal suffered significantly with pain due to this untreated medical issue and infection that was chronic and long-term that occurred during the time Nichols and Smith were supposed to care for the animal.

The extent of the damage revealed the animal was neglected and denied basic care by the owners.

The medical issue could have been found and treated with routine care.

Smith and Nichols were booked into the Polk County Jail.

With the exception of two family dogs that have been released back to Nichols and Smith, the rest of the animals have been handed over to the custody of animal control.

Gail and Smith were already arrested and charged with animal neglect several months ago.

The couple is accused of intentionally confining 28 miniature horses, 2 full sized horses, 8 dogs, and 2 birds, and failed to supply the animals with necessary medical and basic standard of care.

The animals suffered as a result.

A search of the suspects’ property, which was surrounded by a fence, revealed five of their eight dogs were living in cages inside the main residence without access to water.

The residence emitted a very strong odor of ammonia, was infested with rats and had clutter piled to the ceiling with small pathways for walking.

The home was without air conditioning and uninhabitable for humans.

Nichols and Smith were each residing in separate travel trailers on the property.

One emaciated dog was loose and could access the house and backyard and two others were inside Smith’s travel trailer.

Two McCaw type parrots were found on the front porch of the residence in filthy dirty cages.

The parrots were both missing feathers.

A search of the front pasture revealed 18 miniature horses were confined to a dirt pasture, with access to hay.

2 full sized horses were housed in a dirt pasture with no access to grass or hay.

10 additional miniature horses were found in a dirt pasture with no hay or grass.

All had access to water.