Owners of Virginia animal hospital charged with trafficking opium, heroin

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (WAVY) — The owners of the Animal Hospital of Nags Head are facing charges of felony trafficking in opium or heroin.

Barrett Oakes Welch, 64, and Patrice Taylor Welch, 54, turned themselves in to law enforcement officials on Feb. 8 after two search warrants were executed at the hospital and at their home in Colington, North Carolina.

According to the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, allegations of inappropriate prescribing, obtaining and misuse of prescription medications led to the search warrants. Search warrants were taken out for two places: The Animal Hospital of Nags Head and their home on 100 Sunrise Lane.

Investigators say they took more than 200 pills into evidence from the Animal Hospital. They also reportedly found another 100 pills in a cookie jar, baskets and a night stand at their home.

At the center of the investigation against Dr. Barrett Welch and his wife Patrice, is Dr. Logan Botzman whose name could be seen on the Animal Hospital sign.

10 On Your Side tried contacting Dr. Botzman, but he did not answer. Botzman will be the prosecutor’s star witness.

In the search warrant, Botzman tells the investigator, “Dr. Barrett Welch would take medication from inventory for personal use, and to cover up the shortage [he] would prescribe the medication to his personal pets and pets of family members.”

A former Animal Hospital employee, Dianna Dickenson said, “I was not surprised at all. I knew it was happening. I had investigators and members of the Vet Board ask me about it.”

To not raise any flags, Botzman said, “Dr. Welch would then go into the computer system and discount the mediation to where a bill would never be created.”

Dickenson says when she did inventory there were major issues, “the drug count was off by a lot of drugs so I told the owner, Dr. Welch, I wasn’t going to sign the drug log and that he basically needed to fix the drug count before we could finish the drug log.”

In the court paper work, Botzman told the investigator, “Dr. Welch admitted to him that he had taken Xanax for his own personal use.”

Dickenson says she also confronted Dr. Welch about the shortage of inventory, “He said he would take care of it, and that was the last I heard of it. Less than a week later I got suspended for that.”

The probable case for the search warrant also states, “Dr. Botzman stated that approximately two years ago DEA did a case on Dr. Welch where they found his prescription records were not done correctly and medication missing from the business. The DEA fined Dr. Welch over $20,000 in civil penalties.”

Both Barrett and Patrice Welch are facing felony charges of trafficking in opium or heroin. Barrett is also facing a felony obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery charge.

They were released on bond this week and will be back in court March 31.

The Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing and could lead to additional charges and arrests.

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