Dr. Jeff Blé has had plenty of time trying to figure out what has happened to him over the past year while taking his daily four to six mile walks around the pink bowlmostly listening to Eric Church, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp.
“They tell stories about life,” Blea said. “Everyone goes through hardships in life and the goal is to come out better.”
Blea hopes the lyrics to these songs reflect his reality when he returns to work on Wednesday as the Equine Medical Director (EMD) of the California Horse Racing Council after negotiating a settlement with the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB). Bléa has been on paid administrative leave since Jan 11 after VMB suspended his license accusing him of multiple violations, many of which were nothing more than accounting errors while in private practice.
Blea will be on probation for three years, required to undergo continuing education in record keeping, and pay the VMB $131,464 over a 30-month period in reimbursement of investigative costs. As an EMD, Blea has moved from the world of practicing veterinarian to that of regulatory veterinarian, which means he no longer sees horses as clients.
I work technically for UC Davis, from which the CHRB contracts its services.
Blea’s case has baffled most members of the California horse racing community, given that the offenses he is charged with rarely result in a license suspension. Additionally, CHRB and VMB are under the same government umbrella of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, but CHRB was never advised of the alleged breaches by their Chief Equine Medical Officer during investigation.
“The fact that the veterinary board requested a license suspension was unprecedented,” Blea said. “There’s obviously a program there. If I hadn’t been EMD, I wouldn’t have been suspended.”
There are six other Southern California and three Northern California vets who have charges against them, but none have had their licenses suspended.
Blea has suspicions about why he thinks he was targeted but, at this time, he is unwilling to name names or discuss motives.
The VMB, in response to The Times, acknowledged through a spokesperson that Blea has “a stipulated settlement and authorizes Dr. Blea to practice medicine under a probationary period of three years with various He didn’t add any other information about fees, terms, or conditions.
Yet despite the upheaval in his world over the past nine months, Blea remains optimistic and positive.
“A good thing is that it allowed me to spend more time with my family, my wife, my two daughters and my two dogs. (springer spaniels named Ross and Rizzo after Chicago Cubs players ),” Blea said. “I have to go to all of their school activities and sporting events — softball and cross country.
“I’ve been visiting colleges with my daughter. Normally I wouldn’t be able to do that. Personally, it’s great to have time to spend with family.
It’s not like Blea hasn’t followed the industry. I also watched many races on television and consulted Equibase and specialist publications daily.
“You have to proactively manage things,” Blea said. “I followed things through the industry press. I participated [remotely through audiocast] attend CHRB meetings as a member of the public. It has kept me relevant with current events, especially in California. I caught up on reading a lot of reviews too.
“I also spent time fixing things, painting things and building things. Things that I’ve been putting off for the past 30 years. It was important to stay mentally and physically active. Despite to be so busy was also frustrating.
“Now that I’m a civil servant, I have an ‘X’ on my back, and they went. But I have my dignity and I can sleep at night.
— Jeff Blea, CHRB Equine Medical Director
Blea was deeply trying to find out why there was an increase in “sudden deaths”, often associated with cardiac events, when his license was suspended.
“I really want to continue with this,” Blea said. “I want to go back to work because there are a lot of things I want to do. I would like to continue advancing the safety rules to make races safer and better. I want to work with HISA [Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority] and assist with the transition to program acceptance.
HISA hopes to become fully integrated nationwide. 1 when his medication rules come into effect.
“Something good has got to come out of my situation,” Blea said. “Perhaps collaborative interactions between the Veterinary Board and the CHRB can occur. Without it, it could negatively affect how vets treat horses on the race track and on the performance track. Without it , the loser is the horse.
“You have to understand equine practice. Practitioners need to be able to properly care for horses without fear of losing their license. Let’s talk about the problems and find a solution. Practitioners want to comply.
This problem is not new in equine medicine. Dr. Rick Arthur, who retired as a longtime EMD and was replaced by Blea, has often explained that the rules regarding veterinary practice are more suited to those who treat dogs and cats than animals. herds such as horses.
Blea left a lucrative private practice to take up the post of EMD, but despite the turmoil of the past year, he doesn’t regret his decision.
“When all of this happened, it didn’t make sense, and it still doesn’t,” Blea said. “Now that I’m a civil servant, I have an ‘X’ on my back, and they went there. But, I have my dignity and I can sleep at night. I’m still the same person. I didn’t at all wondered why I took that [job].
“I will come out on my feet and continue to work to improve the industry and make it better for the participants and the horses.”
Blea received unwavering support from CHRB and UC Davis during this process, as well as numerous national and state veterinary professional organizations.
“Dr. Blea has dedicated his life to the care of horses,” said Scott Chaney, CHRB Executive Director. “I know him as a person of integrity, but more than that, the grace and professionalism he has shown throughout throughout this ordeal are impressive.”
Blea’s first task on Wednesday is to meet her probation officer at 9 a.m. for an admissions hearing. He then plans to call John Pascoe, his boss at UC Davis, CHRB President Gregory Ferraro and Chaney to express his gratitude for their support. Then he will start calling others to let them know he is back.
Blea had a familiar refrain repeated often by people who have been through hard times.
“You really realize who your friends are. It was a good thing.