I have written about Jean Dodds many, many times. She is one of those controversial figures who did some legitimate, even trailblazing work early in her career and then went off the deep end, not only embracing many forms of pseudoscience but apparently becoming convinced that she could never be mistaken regardless of the evidence against her ideas. She promotes speculative, inaccurate, and even clearly false claims about thyroid disease, pet nutrition, and vaccines. She has become especially blatant in selling proprietary diagnostic tests that, at best, are unproven and that, in some cases, have been clearly shown not to work. She has an undeserved reputation for being an “expert” in fields in which she is actually simply an outlier, promoting views that clash not only with the assessments of true experts but with basic science and research evidence.
Despite all of this, she has continued to practice and promote her unscientific approaches openly and with impunity for many years. Vets throughout the country, myself included, regularly have to try and explain to misinformed clients why her tests and recommendations are not reliable and shouldn’t be followed. And while holding this role as an iconoclastic sage for the alternative veterinary medicine movement, she has not held an actual license to practice in any state.
However, I have also discussed in the past the impotence of most legal and regulatory restraints on unscientific veterinary practice, with examples of figures such as Gloria Dodd and Al Plechner, arguably even more dangerous in their views and actions than Dr. Dodds, practicing openly without effective sanction for decades. With or without a medical license, many individuals are able to promote and sell pseudoscientific products and practices freely despite misleading and endangering the public because the political will does not exist to restrain them.
I was pleasantly surprised, then, to read in The Canine Review that the California Veterinary Medical Board has issued a cease-and-desist order and levied a fine on Dr. Dodds for practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The details of the citation involve Dr. Dodds being listed as the veterinarian of record on both electronic medical records and on results from her bogus Nutriscan allergy test and other laboratory tests.
Given the evidence of history, I am not sanguine that there will be any significant consequences for Dr. Dodds stemming from this action. Dr. Gloria Dodd was cited for malpractice and also issued a warning by the FDA for her quackery, and neither prevented her from continuing her actions. Dr. Plechner was being investigated by the veterinary medical board for a malpractice claim when he died, after decades of dangerous and unscientific practice, making the claim moot. I will not be at all surprised if Dr. Dodds manages to evade responsibility and continue her practices regardless of this action.
Nevertheless, at a minimum it is worthwhile to have an official regulatory body confirm what so many of us have known and discussed for years– that Dr. Dodds is not a trustworthy representative of the veterinary profession but an outlier whose views and conduct do not reflect the values or practices of the vast majority of her colleagues.