Dr. Jeff Blea has had a number of time to attempt to perceive what has occurred to him in the course of the previous yr whereas taking his every day four- to six-mile walks across the Rose Bowl, listening principally to Eric Church, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp.
“They tell stories about life,” Blea mentioned. “Everybody goes through things in life and the goal is to come out better.”
Blea is hoping these music lyrics will mirror his actuality when he returns to work Wednesday as equine medical director (EMD) of the California Horse Racing Board after negotiating a settlement with the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB). Blea has been on paid administrative go away since Jan. 11 after the VMB suspended his license accusing him of a number of violations, lots of which have been nothing greater than bookkeeping errors when he was in non-public apply.
Blea will probably be on probation for 3 years, must go to persevering with training in regard to report maintaining and pay the VMB $131,464 over a 30-month interval as reimbursement for the price of their investigation. Because the EMD, Blea has moved from the world of working towards veterinarian to regulatory veterinarian, which means he not see horses as purchasers.
He technically works for UC Davis, from which the CHRB contracts his providers.
Blea’s case has been baffling to most within the California horse racing group, provided that the infractions he’s accused of hardly ever end in a suspended license. Moreover, the CHRB and VMB are below the identical authorities umbrella of the Enterprise, Client Companies and Housing Company, however the CHRB was by no means notified of alleged infractions by their chief equine medical officer in the course of the investigation.
“The fact that the vet board went for a suspension of license was unheard of,” Blea mentioned. “There is obviously an agenda there. If I hadn’t been EMD, I would not have been suspended.”
There are six different Southern California veterinarians and three in Northern California which have accusations towards them however none had their license suspended.
Blea has suspicions about why he believes he was focused however, for now, isn’t prepared to call names or talk about motives.
The VMB, in response to The Instances, acknowledged via a spokesperson that Blea has “a stipulated settlement and authorizes Dr. Blea to practice medicine under a three-year probationary period with various terms and conditions.” It didn’t add another details about any of the fees, situations or phrases.
Nonetheless, regardless of having his world turned the other way up the previous 9 months, Blea stays upbeat and optimistic.
“A silver lining is that it allowed me to spend more time with my family, my wife, my two daughters and two dogs. (springer spaniels named Ross and Rizzo after Chicago Cubs players),” Blea mentioned. “I’ve got to go to all their school functions and sporting events — softball and cross country.
“I went to visit colleges with my daughter. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be able to do that. Personally, it’s been very good to have time the time to spend with family.”
It isn’t as if Blea has not stored up with the trade. He additionally watched voluminous quantities of races on tv and checked Equibase and the commerce publications every day.
“You have to deal with things proactively,” Blea mentioned. “I kept up with things through the industry press. I attended [remotely through audiocast] the CHRB meetings as a member of the public. It allowed me to stay relevant with current events, especially in California. I caught up reading a lot of journals too.
“I also occupied some time fixing things, painting things and building things. Things I’ve put off for the last 30 years. It was important to stay mentally and physically active. Despite being so busy, it was also frustrating.”
“Now that I’m a public servant, I have an ‘X’ on my back, and they went for it. But, I have my dignity and I can sleep at night.”
— CHRB equine medical director Jeff Blea
Blea was deep into looking for out why there was an uptick in “sudden deaths,” usually related to cardiac occasions, when his license was suspended.
“I definitely want to continue with that,” Blea mentioned. “I want to get back to work because there are a lot of things I want to do. I would like to continue pushing forward with the safety regulations to make racing safer and better. I want to work with HISA [Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority] and help the transition so that the program becomes accepted.”
HISA hopes to change into absolutely built-in nationally Jan. 1 when its medicine guidelines go into impact.
“Something good has to come of my situation,” Blea mentioned. “Maybe some collaborative interactions between the vet board and CHRB can happen. Without it, it could affect in a negative way how veterinarians treat horses on the race track and on the performance track. Without it, the one who loses is the horse.
“There needs to be an understanding of the equine practice. Practioners need to be able to take care of horses in a proper way without fear of losing their license. Let’s talk about the issues and figure out a solution. Practioners want to comply.”
This isn’t a brand new challenge in equine drugs. Dr. Rick Arthur, who retired because the longtime EMD and was changed by Blea, has usually spoken about how guidelines relating to veterinary apply are extra suited to those that deal with canine and cats than herd animals resembling horses.
Blea left a profitable non-public apply to take the job of EMD, however regardless of the turmoil of the final yr doesn’t remorse his choice.
“When all this happened, it made no sense, and it still makes no sense,” Blea mentioned. “Now that I’m a public servant, I have an ‘X’ on my back, and they went for it. But, I have my dignity and I can sleep at night. I’m still the same person. I didn’t at all question why I took this [job].
“I’m going to come out standing up and continue to work to enhance the industry and make it better for participants and horses.”
Blea has obtained steadfast assist from the CHRB and UC Davis throughout this course of, together with most of the state and nationwide veterinary commerce organizations.
“Dr. Blea has dedicated his life to the care of horses,” mentioned Scott Chaney, government director of the CHRB. “I’ve known him to be a person of integrity but more than that, the grace and professionalism he has demonstrated throughout this ordeal is impressive.”
Blea’s first process Wednesday is to satisfy along with his probation officer at 9 a.m. for an consumption listening to. He then plans to name John Pascoe, his boss at UC Davis, CHRB chair Gregory Ferraro and Chaney to specific his appreciation for his or her assist. Then he’ll begin calling others to allow them to know he’s again.
Blea had a well-recognized chorus repeated usually by individuals who have gone via tough occasions.
“You really realize who your friends are. That was a good thing.”