Eric Weisman won't stop playing doctor

Accused of practicing medicine without a license, he says he only prescribed good nutrition

It all started with a dead cat.

For Eric Weisman, its longtime owner, the past couple of months had already been trying enough. He was working desperately to nurse a neighborhood dog back to health as it deteriorated from Lyme disease, making house calls to its heartbroken owners, listening to its weakening heartbeat and hand-feeding the animal by plastic syringe. He was on the phone to Las Vegas, where another client needed careful instruction on how to administer a potentially toxic treatment he'd recommended for a cat with a terrible intestinal parasite. He was also making long-distance calls to Texas, where yet another client was using his procedures to nurse a cancer-stricken dog back to health.

It was all very touch and go.

The promotional photo posted on Eric Weisman's pet-nutrition websites
Jana Freiband
The promotional photo posted on Eric Weisman's pet-nutrition websites

And then the cat died. As he often did in the course of his work, Weisman—a soft-spoken 59-year-old with a shock of black hair—wrapped the body up and drove it from his home office to the red brick Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the University of Minnesota. In a case summary he left for the head of the lab, Arno Wunschmann, Weisman explained that his pet had likely succumbed to kidney failure. He also pointed out some lesions on the animal's legs, which he suspected could be cancerous.

Dr. Wunschmann laid the animal out on his cold metal work table and set to work on a necropsy, opening the animal up and carefully examining its condition. What he found shocked him enough to report it to authorities.

"This is experimentation on the animals," says Trevor Oliver, the city attorney who received Wunschmann's findings. "Haphazard, uncontrolled, and unscientific experimentation."

   

JUST AS INTEREST IN alternative medicine has soared in the U.S.—one estimate says a third of all adults have tried some form of unconventional treatment—so has interest in new methods of treating animals.

A 2003 American Animal Hospital Association survey found that 21 percent of pet owners have used some form of alternative therapy on their animals, and the business of vitamin supplements for pets has ballooned into a $1 billion industry. In Minnesota, practicing acupuncture on animals has become increasingly popular, and in 2008 the Legislature passed a law allowing chiropractors to treat dogs and cats.

But the blurring of the lines hasn't always gone over well with authorities. In 2006, the Washington Department of Health issued a "cease and desist" order to an unlicensed woman performing shock therapy on the acupuncture points of pets. In 2009, a California veterinarian lost her license for trying to diagnose animals using E.S.P. and selling her own homeopathic vaccines. And last year, a vet in British Columbia was forced to give up his license after he marketed his own dietary supplements as "cures," claiming he's seen "thousands" of pets healed with herbs.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with people being interested and exploring," says Dr. Brennen McKenzie, president-elect of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association. "I think it's important to find what's true, and not what somebody made up and put on the internet."

  

IN THE EARLY 1970S, an 18-year-old door-to-door salesman named Eric Weisman inadvertently walked onto the killing floor of a slaughterhouse. What he saw—animal carcasses hanging from hooks, their blood dripping onto the floor—horrified him.

"I was traumatized," he recalls.

Weisman had always been an animal lover, bringing stray dogs and cats to his Toronto home, though for most of his childhood his parents would let him keep only birds as pets. After seeing the slaughterhouse, Weisman wandered into a health foods store and came home with an armload of veggie hotdogs and hamburgers.

"I'm going to eat these instead of meat,'" Weisman pronounced.

After watching his mother suffer a long-term illness throughout his childhood, Weisman was inspired to pursue medicine. He moved to St. Paul to begin chiropractic studies at the school then known as Northwestern Chiropractic College, pleased that it incorporated a more "holistic" approach to health. He graduated in 1979 with two certificates in x-ray imaging and acupuncture, and set up shop in North St. Paul. Before long, he had locations in Roseville and Falcon Heights.

Weisman espoused the value of his meat-free diet to patients, and took to the airwaves with his own cable-access show, Health Now!

"Please don't hesitate to call me if you have a question!" he beamed, a business telephone number flashing below his pearly smile.

With his lustrous jet black hair and tidy suits, Weisman soon gathered an audience. Before long, the show was on multiple cable-access channels and callers could catch Health Now! almost any night of the week.

As a loving pet owner, Weisman began developing a pet food in line with the principles of veganism. In 1988, he formulated his own vegan pet food and called it Evolution Diet. He began advertising the kibble and wet food on a series of websites and marketing it in national pet magazines. The product even won best vegan pet food from VegNews magazine.

Word of the pet food began spreading around the country, and as Weisman built Evolution's reputation, he began letting his customers call him for advice about their pets' health.

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16 comments
Weisman
Weisman

This article is a full of lies and deception. All of Eric Weisman's fraudulent criminal charges of practicing veterinary and human medicine along with chiropractic and animal cruelty were dismissed on Feb. 15th, 2012 in Ramsey County Court. Jessica Lussenhop and City Pages lied and misrepresented Eric Weisman throughout this journalistic piece of garbage.

Dan Robinson
Dan Robinson

Back in 2003 after doing hundreds of hours of research on feline nutrition I found a couple of products in the US that claimed to be nutritionally complete AAFCO approved vegan foods for cats. One was Vegecat from Harbingers of a New Age, and the other was Evolution Diet from Eric. Because Vegecat required some work in preparing a complete food, since the product is a supplement to complete the missing components in a vegan diet for cats, I decided to first give the Evolution product a try to see how my feline son would respond. For the first 18 months my 12 year old son was doing fine using the kibble which I tried to feed soaked as suggested. However, in late 2005 I learned the horrors of FLUTD that was most likely caused by the wide variation in formulations that the Evolution product was experiencing in the manufacturing process. After taking him off the Evolution to use the Hill's Prescription Diet for urinary control, a few short months later he succumbed to hepatic lipidosis through starvation, possibly related to his dietary change.

Since that time I have added hundreds of additional hours of study on feline nutrition, adopted a new feline son, and switched him to a Vegecat based feline diet, which has been very successful for the past six years. I monitor his CBC and urinalysis every six months to make sure that his diet remains healthy.

Although Eric appeared to have a well meaning heart, In many of the conversations with him I was disturbed that he was more concerned about the protection of his source of income rather than the quality of his feline product. And since my experience with Eric is only related to the feline products, I cannot comment with any authority about the efficacy of his canine products. I found the formulations of the Evolution feline kibble to change on a regular basis with the palatability becoming a major issue. I was also disturbed by the Gray, et. al., study regarding the two vegan cat food products that showed a deficiency in the nutrient assay for both products. In the case of the Vegecat product it appeared to be a manufacturing error that was subsequently corrected by Harbingers through a procedural change to prevent future mistakes. But in the case of the Evolution product, Eric insisted that the product was fine and that there must have been an error in the research study by the Veterinarians which did not require him to make any changes. This was consistent with my assessment about the wide variation in the formulation of his feline product, which led to my conclusion that the Evolution product was a vegan cat food that I could no longer endorse. In fact, since 2005, I have warned people to avoid his Evolution feline food, especially the kibble. My research indicates that any kibble, whether Evolution or any other dry food, is incompatible with a healthy feline metabolism. The 10% moisture content creates a dangerous dehydration condition that causes or exacerbates gastro-intestinal problems and other related health issues.

I became aware of the many issues surrounding Eric's background back in 2004 and this added to my opinion about his ability to maintain a safe and effective diet for his feline patrons. So it does not surprise me to hear of his recent troubles with authorities.

I currently formulate a vegan feline food product in cooperation with Harbingers using their Vegecat product as a base material. Harbingers has a long history in excess of thirty years of success with feeding both cats and dogs using their specific formulations and recipes. Not only is it possible to safely feed cats a vegan diet that is nutritionally balanced and complete, but it is my personal opinion that the ideal diet for most domesticated cats would be based on the product I have formulated and tested on a small sample of cats. Lacking the funds to do a science based double blind study testing our vegan product, most of my observations are anecdotal and somewhat empirical. However, my gut feeling is that eventually such a science based study will prove that although cats are obligate carnivores, they can be nutritionally enhanced with well formulated vegan foods to provide extended lives that are far healthier than based on conventional commercial foods from the established "pet" food industry.

My personal experiences with these two vegan products have been positive for Vegecat and emphatically negative for Evolution. I know that there are thousands of satisfied Evolution feline food consumers, but I am also aware of a sizable number of very dissatisfied Evolution feline food users as well. I happen to be among the ones in the dissatisfied column. Evolution was a good idea, but it seems to have failed on a number of fronts, partially due to the failures of Eric and his staff. Hopefully the Evolution Diet brand will continue to "evolve" into a better product with some stability in its manufacturing. Time will tell.

Dan RobinsonVegan Cat Institute

Azar Attura
Azar Attura

I tried a vegan food for my cats years ago-- I don't remember if it was Evolution -- all I know is that they refused to eat the canned stuff, and the dry food was so very hard it would have broken a tooth. So I tossed it with no regrets.

Becca
Becca

This man is a vile sociopath. And to be clear his wife is NOT an animal rights activist. I've been vegan 11 years and I am an animal rights activist and I am APPALLED by this idiot's behavior and his CRUELTY to the animals in his care. The cat who was walking on her JOINTS???!?! My god, I cannot even imagine the pain she must have endured before dying from MALNUTRITION in this man's care. YOU ARE A HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING. As I responsible pet guardian (1 dog, 2 cats, 1 rat, 3 foster rats) and a longtime activist for animals I am disgusted and outraged.

Phoenix
Phoenix

First Law of Holes, Eric Weisman: Stop digging.

-- On second thought, keep it up.

Weisman
Weisman

My name is Eric Weisman. Jessica Lussenhop, the woman that wrote the article on me assurred me she when she asked me for an interview that she would be balanced and "not present a negative point of view in my case". I explained to Jessica Lussenhop that I did not want to speak to her under any other condition. Jessica told me she would incorporporate stories from an emergency room specialist and a dentist that I have assisted successfully on numerous occassions with their sick pets and some human disorders. These reports did not appear in her "fair and balanced article". Jessica Lussenhop told me that she would use reports from a number people that I had successfully assisted that she did not use in her story. Jessica Lussenhop is both deceptive and a liar and her report reflects the cheap tabloid journalism that you might expect to find in a cheap flesh selling newpaper like City Pages. The health professionals mentioned are only some of the many thousands of people I have provided nutrient procedure information to for over 30 years in human disorder cases and over 15 years for dog, cat and ferret disorders that were not responding well to conventional medical therapy. By far, most of the time I spend with clients is voluntary and I give free information and provide free assistance to homeless and sick animals for at least between 1000 and 2000 hours per year, every year for about the past 15 years.

Weisman
Weisman

My name is Eric Weisman. To me it makes good common sense to administer nutrients to a sick person, dog or cat because many studies have shown sick humans and other animals often have nutrient deficiencies. Numerous studies have proven that nutrient deficiencies are linked to genetic, cell and organ damage. I perform experimental procedures using combinations of nutrients and other entities to assist humans, dogs, and cats that are in a state of disease. I always explain to clients that my nutrient procedures are not inteneded to be a cure, treatment, diagnosis or prevention for any disease. The FDA has not evaluated my procedures. I explain that I am a scientist and not a physician, or veterinarian. By far most of the information service I provide for clients is voluntary and costs them nothing. I volunteer offering people nutrient procedure information easily a thousand to two thousand hours per year helping people with their afflictions and / or those of their cats and dogs. Included in this volunteering are many free follow up calls to help make sure proper adjustments are made or referring to a health professional if things are not going as hoped for. For 20 years, I have rescued and sheltered homeless and sick dogs, cats, ferrets and others. I have payed for their neuters, spays, food supplements, placement advertisements and veterinary treatments. I have helped many of those animals while using them as subjects for my own nutrient compound experiments and procedures to assist them when veterinary treatments were not working well. I found that most of my own procedures are far less toxic, less expensive and often more succesful then veterinary treatments. Everyday, I work on my own cases with our older and sick pets. I also provide information on my procedures to people all over the US almost everyday. The nutrients and other entities that I use are not medical or veterinary in nature and they never have been. I have developed these combinations of nutrients and other entities to assist the body in helping it repair itself. In no way are these procedures medical or veterinary. I often get calls from people that are disatisfied with the types of veterinary or medical treaments they are recieving or they do not have sufficient funds to pay for conventional treatment. I ask people to explain what the condition is that they are dealing with. If the conditon appears to be an emergency, I ask people to go to an emergency medical facility and then call me with an update so I can provide them with more accurate information. I often encourage people that I talk to follow up their cases with physicians and/or veterianrians so that they can get a blood, biopsy or more accurate perceptions of the conditions they are dealing with. I recieve a small income from selling supplements that are used in my nutrient procedures. I have also charged a small fee for offering information about my experimental nutrient based procedures. I do not tell people what to do: I tell them what I have done or what I would do. What I do is provide information: Not treatment. I have assisted mostly non-health educated individuals, but non-veterinary human health professionals have used my procedures for their own pets succesfully on numerous occassions. Again: what I provide is information and not treatment. Over the last 30 years I have done nutrient experiments with humans and animals that have various disorders.

Kim Egan
Kim Egan

"Before he hangs up, Weisman can't help mentioning some new accreditations and awards he's recently received: a 2011 certificate of appreciation from the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.

When contacted for confirmation, the physician's committee explained that it had given the certificate to Weisman as an honorarium after he made a monetary donation.

"Unbelievable," Weisman says. "I interpreted it as for my stance on cruelty-free testing.""

That one passage explains a lot, both about his credibility and the credibility of the PCRM. Both he and the PCRM rely on junk science and anecdotal evidence for their "medical" advice. The truth is that a very small percentage of the PCRM membership is actually comprised of medical doctors (I've heard 10% for a recent figure) and their actions are obviously based on their agenda (veganism) an monetary gain.

JMZoss
JMZoss

I ran into this guy when he had a booth for his pet food at my co-op and he freaked me out. He had a really strange aura about him.

Co-op. Aura. I sound like a hippie.

benji
benji

Leave the acupuncture to the acupuncturists....I for one would not trust a Chiropractor that took a 100hour course in acupuncture to give my pet or self acupuncture....Acupuncturists have 3000hours of training-Who would you rather see ?

Johnny
Johnny

Must be related to that perennial fake psychologist, Brad Jesness......

Dr. Stavit Measom
Dr. Stavit Measom

I am the dentist that Ms. Jessica Lessenhop interviewed over the phone. My name is Dr. Stavit Measom. I received my DDS from the University of Michigan (#1 dental school in the country--we alternate spots with Harvard Dental School). I have had the pleasure of using Dr. Weisman's advice and Evolution dog food. I rescued several dogs from being euthanized in Miami. I live in Detroit, so after flying the dogs back to Detroit, I called Dr. Weisman for advice. One of the dogs was extremely sick--he had mange, roundworms and was underweight. I worked with a local vet and I had miraculous results using Eric Weisman's protocol. Basically, in addition to the vet's prescribed meds, the dog received the nutritional supplements that Eric Weisman advised. I followed this protocol to the tee, and today, that dog is happy and healthy. Even the vet was extremely surprised that his skin had cleared so quickly (she thought she would have to prescribe steroid, which she didn't since he healed up so well). Eric Weisman NEVER charged me a penny for his advice since I was doing dog rescue. I called him and emailed him so many times and never did I get charged nor did he complain. He always made me feel like the animal involved was the most important thing in the world. Such sincere caring is hard to find in any health professional. And when we do find it, we must treasure it, for if we don't, we may lose something that may never come back. So, before anyone stomps on anyone else, please look first--you may be making the biggest mistake of your life.In peace,Dr. Stavit Measom, DDSP.S. I am considering becoming an Evolution Dog Food distributor, since I think very highly of it (as do many vets I have spoken to). I would like to see more people feeding this to their dogs. The farm sanctuary we volunteer at uses Evolution dog food for all of their dogs, while turning down free dog food that is meat based. Every dog that I rescued loved this stuff and gained weight and health by eating it. And, seriously, have you smelled it? It's amazing aroma will delight you.

Becca
Becca

And what about the cat who DIED from malnutrition in your care, you psychopath? You are horrible, you are an uneducated person who tried to pass off a load of crap to gullible people--and animals suffered for it. I am not religious but I hope you burn in hell. You are the kind of idiot who make us intelligent vegans look like complete assholes. Ugh, this article just breaks my heart, when I think of all those animals who suffered at your hands.

lycantropho
lycantropho

@Weisman hi Mr weisman this is raphael from pennsylvania, what a shame and how dumb I am that after many things you said dint make sence I almost fall for your medical advise for my ferret and you call your self a Cientist now I strongly beleave my ferret will die because your medical advice you should be in jail my friend and I will notifie the authorities in your state and the outrageos fees you charge, now it makes sence to me what hapend to my ferret and how many times you ask me if I was willing to spend money for my pet. please if anyone wants to know the story write to me at ralphijunior64@gmail.com dont trust this man.

guest
guest

Sir, sometimes the more you try to convince someone that you're not crazy, the more you reinforce their opinion.

Becca
Becca

Did you not read? PCRM simply sent a thank-you for a donation, like they send to EVERYONE who sends is a donation. Why don't you actually read some of the REAL STUDIES done by actual doctors associated with PCRM--don't judge them by this idiot! I've been vegan 11 years, as has my mother--somehow she's light years ahead of others in her age group in the health department...hmmm....

 
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