SHEFFIELD TWP. — A local veterinarian reportedly shot himself in the head Wednesday during an investigation by the Lorain County Drug Task Force and the Cleveland office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Authorities said they twice used a stun gun on Dr. Craig Talbott, 66, owner of Lorain County Animal Emergency Center, in an attempt to get him to put down the gun, according to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Capt. Don Barker said authorities went to the center at 5125 Grove Ave. at 8 a.m. with a search warrant and met with Talbott, who agreed to cooperate in the investigation. Talbott led investigators into an office where he said records were kept but once inside, he grabbed a handgun and threatened to kill himself, Barker said.
Drug Task Force officers tried to convince Talbott to put down the gun but when he refused, deputies twice deployed a stun gun to no effect. Talbott then fired the gun, taking his own life, Barker said.
Emergency crews responded to the scene and pronounced Talbott dead, Barker said.
Lorain County Drug Task Force is continuing to investigate based on the search warrant, and Lorain police will handle the death investigation.
Sheriff Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said deputies seized documents while executing the search warrant, but he declined to discuss the nature of the investigation. Veterinarians are licensed by the DEA and are required to keep logs of certain controlled drugs they may use in their practices.
According to the Animal Emergency Center’s website, Talbott, a resident of Bay Village, was one of two veterinarians on staff. The center provides emergency care for pets after hours, on weekends and on major holidays.
Talbott received media attention over the years for going above and beyond for animals, like last year when he took care of a golden retriever that had been shot and his left foot was stuck in a trap.
The dog named “Chance” by Talbott was brought to the center by the Lorain County dog warden, and Talbott came in on his day off to do emergency surgery.
The staff at the center began an online fundraiser for the dog, collecting $8,485 for help pay for Chance’s recovery.
In 2010, Talbott tried to save Amherst police K-9 Bandit after the dog’s stomach had contorted and fatally cut off blood flow to other organs. Bandit was brought to the center where Talbott attempted CPR on the dog but was unsuccessful. Talbott later attended the dog’s funeral.
Greg Willey, executive director of the Friendship Animal Protective League, said Talbott was known in the community as doing anything he could to help an animal.
“He was an amazingly sweet and compassionate person that really cared about the animals we brought in,” Wiley said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Talbott treated “countless” dogs and cats over the years from Friendship and would work with foster families who needed help for their pets.
Willey said Talbott would try things other veterinarians might not do, such as when Willey brought him a cat whose leg had gotten caught in a trap. He said Talbott reached out to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center to get leeches for leech therapy on the cat.
“He was always one to try different things and take chances,” Willey said. “He was really cool in that way. He was very smart and very educated and willing to do things that were outside the box to save an animal’s life, and I was always very impressed with that.”
Talbott also allowed Willey to sit with the puppies that were in isolation to be treated for parvovirus, which is extremely contagious to other dogs.
“He allowed us to do things that traditionally a lot of places wouldn’t allow,” Willey said.
Many veterinary clinics only open during business hours depended on the center and sent its patients to Talbott for emergency care when they were closed.
He was a trusted doctor, and Willey said he was shocked to learn of the investigation by the Drug Task Force.
“He’s been a cornerstone of the community for a long time. I’m sure it came as a surprise to everyone,” Willey said.
“When they came down and told me, I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I literally couldn’t believe it. He was a really strong guy and he seemed really tough, but I know he had a really soft heart and a soft heart for animals.”