AUSTIN (KXAN) — The executive director and president of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners have resigned amid a KXAN investigation into the agency.
The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) licenses and regulates Texas animal doctors. Earlier this month, KXAN investigators exposed potentially missing records and flaws in the agency’s public search tool that could prevent pet owners from seeing a veterinarian’s disciplinary history.
At the time, an attorney for the agency said it was migrating records to a new data system, but KXAN asked why the process was taking so long after lawmakers pointed out many of the same issues during a review in 2017. At the board’s April meeting, President Jessica Quillivan and the former Executive Director John Helenberg refused to give interviews or answer KXAN’s questions about the process.
In a resignation letter obtained by KXAN over the weekend, Helenberg said the agency had “dramatically improved its operations and procedures” after the 2017 legislative review, but said he was resigning to “give the opportunity for a new person to lead the agency into the future.”
He called the data system the “biggest challenge to overcome” and acknowledged the process had been “slower than initially planned” — citing the pandemic and staffing issues with the chosen vendor for the project. The letter noted he still believes they made the “correct” decision, despite the challenges.
“Our relationship with the public, licensees, the Texas legislature, Drug Enforcement Administration and other professional organizations, such as the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, has never been stronger,” he wrote.
KXAN also obtained an email from Quillivan to the rest of the board, thanking them for their work and resigning from her position.
Keith Pardue, the board’s vice president, acted as the presiding officer at a board meeting Monday morning, as they appointed the agency’s current head of enforcement, Mike Tacker, as the new interim executive director.
Neither Tacker or Pardue agreed to be interviewed about the leadership changes.
This is a developing story. KXAN will update this article as more details become available.