The medical license of an Anaheim anesthesiologist was placed on four years probation because he beat the stuffing out of his five-month-old puppy and left the Wheaten terrier to die alone.
During the probation that became effective on May 18, Dr. Ahmed Abo-Elkhier Serag is prohibited from engaging in the solo practice of medicine and from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, according to the Medical Board of California, whose order can be read here.
The following account is true, as Serag and his Laguna Hills-based attorney Michael J. Khouri attested to in the medical board’s March 12 discipline acceptance letter.
Serag was home on March 2, 2015, when he was visited by a life insurance representative, prompting the pup’s owner to put it in the backyard. After the visitor left, Serag fetched the dog, which had gotten muddy while being left alone. The doctor tried to clean the dog off, kicked and hit the puppy in the ribs and then put it outside again.
The dog only got dirtier, so Serag brought it inside to clean it up in the shower–punching the pooch repeatedly until it coughed up blood in the bathroom.
Serag grabbed the dog by the scruff and dragged it into the backyard, where it bit the doctor’s hand. An enraged Serag lifted the puppy with both hands and threw it down on the concrete patio, causing the dog to land on its back and squeal. Serag then got on top of the dog and repeatedly hit it.
The pup was then put in its crate and left outside while Serag went inside, took a shower and fell asleep. The dog then died in its crate outdoors.
Police arrived the same day and repeatedly asked Serag what happened, but he gave differing accounts, although he did eventually admit to hitting and kicking the dog before being bitten on the hand, and he did disclose the pup had coughed up blood in the shower.
Serag was arrested at the scene on suspicion of animal cruelty. A necropsy performed on the dog’s body March 3, 2015, concluded it had free blood in the abdomen, pooling blood around the liver, multiple diffuse liver fractures, hemorrhagic lungs and bruising over the frontal and parietal bones at the top of the skull.
The medical board, which inquired about Serag’s arrest, received a letter from him on Dec. 4, 2015, that stated his dog had turned around and bit him while being bathed and groomed. He mentioned nothing about having kicked and punched the puppy before being bitten.
On Jan. 7, 2016, the Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Serag with misdemeanor animal cruelty, and he pleaded guilty to that single count in Orange County Superior Court on April 15, 2016. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, two years probation, 240 hours of community service, 40 counseling sessions and orders to pay $535.45 in restitution and a $10,000 donation to the county animal cruelty prevention fund.
Serag was also prohibited from owning, possessing or living with animals.
On Jan. 11, 2017, Serag was interviewed by medical board investigators, who were told by the doctor that he had not been violent with his dog before it bit him, denying the statements he made to police officers that he had hit and kicked the pooch repeatedly or that it coughed up blood.
However, the medical board found three causes for its discipline: conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a physician or surgeon; commission of an act involving dishonesty or corruption that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a physician and surgeon; and general unprofessional conduct.
During the medical license probationary period, Serag must: obey all laws; undergo psychotherapy; complete ethics and medical education courses; submit quarterly progress reports to the medical board; provide 120 hours of free medical or non-medical community service; and notify hospitals and other facilities where he has privileges of his discipline.
Failure to comply with those conditions could spur medical license revocation proceedings.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.