In two years of running a discount veterinary clinic for low-income pet owners, Gina Brashear said, she’s gotten used to the occasional dog bite.
But being bitten by an angry pet owner — that was a first.
A week after tangling with an unhappy client, Brashear, a hairdresser and owner of Affordable Animal Care Clinic in Fort Myers, Fla., said she looks on the event as “a learning experience” and holds no animosity toward her assailant.
“My dad’s my attorney, and I’ve got three civil attorneys who handle stuff at the clinic,” Brashear told the VIN News Service. “Thing is, I’m not suing her. I’m not that type of person. ... I feel more sorry for her husband than anything.”
The alleged attacker, Kathleen Minneker, 61, faces a misdemeanor battery charge. She did not immediately respond to telephone messages from the VIN News Service seeking comment.
According to the arrest report and interview with Brashear, the ruckus began the afternoon of Oct. 26 when Minneker, one of the clinic’s regular clients, arrived late for a grooming appointment for her two shih tzus. Brashear said her groomer, Adrian Banks, 21, agreed to stay late to complete the job, which took until 6 p.m., an hour after closing time.
When Minneker arrived, she was upset to find the front door locked and angry that her dogs were last, according to the Brashear and the arrest report. Brashear, who had been going through mail when Banks let in Minneker, said she heard a commotion and ran out to see Minneker grab Banks by the shirt and push him.
Brashear said she got between the two of them. Minneker then attacked her, she said. “When she knocked me to the ground, I heard my tailbone crack,” Brashear said. “I’m like, 'Oh God.' ”
Brashear, 48, said she is 5-foot-1. Minneker is 5-foot-6, according to the arrest report. Brashear said she managed to get up eventually while Banks called 911. By the time authorities arrived, Brashear said, she’d been bitten three times — in the face, finger and big toe.
Brashear admitted to breaking her own clinic rule requiring close-toed shoes. She said she rarely works at the clinic, usually leaving it in the hands of five part-time veterinarians and a staff of volunteers.
Brashear said she has been involved in dog rescue work for nine years and decided two years ago to open a clinic serving pet owners of limited means. Although it is a for-profit business, Brashear said she subsidizes the operations with her and her husband’s personal income.
Many of her volunteer staff, including Banks, aspire to careers in veterinary medicine. Brashear said she pays for schooling for those interested in becoming veterinary technicians.
Minneker was known to the clinic as a difficult client, Brashear said, but things were going smoothly until the incident. Looking back, she said it was unbelievable, like something out of “The Jerry Springer Show,” the television tabloid talk show.
“We all just need to laugh about it,” she said.