Walk with the animals, talk with the judge: a real life Dr. Doolittle William Etling January 23, 2006 12:00 AM You heard it here first. “I’ve not talked to anybody else in the media at all,” said veterinarian Dr. Martin Dinnes, the real life Dr. Doolittle who manages Michael Jackson’s menagerie at the sprawling 2,676-acre Neverland Valley Ranch. “The animals are fine. Our dispute is all settled.” “Through all of this, all the principals, and Neverland, and MJJ, and all of Michael’s entities knew that even if I didn’t get paid,” he added, “I was going to take care of those animals.” Dr. Dinnes, who for 20 years has helped Jackson assemble and maintain his exotic zoo, was just the latest in a long line of creditors to trundle a wheelbarrow full of unpaid bills to the county courthouse when he dunned the expatriate prince of pop for $91,602.05 on Dec. 27. Contractors, antique dealers, jewelers, vendors, ex-wives, promoters, managers, bankers, and employees have discovered to their discomfort that Michael Jackson is a slow pay. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it had investigated a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that animals at Neverland were being mistreated. Agency veterinarians visited and found the animals in good condition. [b]”Attacking the health and welfare of those animals is a direct attack on me, and my credentials are impeccable,” said Dr. Dinnes. “We really have nothing to hide. Our doors are open, to the right people. You could eat off the ground on that property.”[/b] As is his wont, Jackson went first class in assembling his menagerie. The animals have architecturally-designed, custom-built homes. Dr. Dinnes has a sterling reputation among his peers. A colleague of his told me, “Marty is great. The best.” UC Davis awarded Dr. Dinnes, a 1966 alumnus, its highest honor in 2000. “Martin R. Dinnes, a diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine and first veterinarian to completely devote a practice to non-domestic animals, received the 2000 Alumni Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the profession of veterinary medicine, specifically in creating novel protocols benefiting the health and well-being of zoological animals,” according to UC Davis. [b]”Michael and I are very close,” Dr. Dinnes said. “We’ve been close for 20 years. My dispute was not with Michael. It was with his business people. Through everything that Michael went through, their mind wasn’t on a lot of things. I’ve been there with him before, through times when I failed to get a check on time, but they never, ever stuck me, and I was assured they never would again. Something triggered me to file, but it’s all settled.” “I’m not paid, pending a signature, but suffice it to say, it’s settled,” said Dr. Dinnes.[/b] “We got a clean bill of health from the USDA, and I have that in writing. I talked to Pete Miller at Santa Barbara County Animal Services. He’s an investigator. I have a long history with them. Pete said, ‘Marty, I believe whatever you say. I just had to call you because we hear what we consider rumors.’ ” “Contrary to what people are saying in all these looney-toon reports, the animals are fine,” said Dr. Dinnes. “I go up there once a week. The animals are well-fed. They’re in good condition. It’s just not like what’s reported. “My attorney asked the Enquirer, ‘Where’d you get the information?’ They said, PETA. ‘Where’d you get the pictures that you took?’ They said, ‘From a helicopter.’ “You know how you can doctor pictures; I’m just surmising. They did take a picture of the elephants being walked, and they conveniently had a clump of elephant poop around them. They took a picture of the giraffes in the yard, and claimed that there was a dark spot on the ground that they said was blood. Under my watch, that can never happen,” said Dr. Dinnes. PETA had waded into the fray with some heavy-duty scolding, but admit they don’t have any privileged info. “We have heard pretty much the same thing everyone else has: the accusations in the media from employees and former employees that the animals have essentially been abandoned, and that Michael Jackson’s veterinarian is now apparently suing him for not paying his vet bill,” said PETA spokesperson Lisa Wathne. “We don’t have any inside scoop, unfortunately. Because Neverland is not open to the public, it’s a very difficult place to get any information about.” Source: http://www.newspress.com/Top/Article/article.jsp?Section=LOCAL&ID=564669190980632652

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