Angry parents demonstrated Friday outside the office of a pediatric dentist, accusing him of hitting young patients who cried and pulling teeth without proper sedation.
Picketing outside the Devonshire Street office of Dr. Edward E. Dove, more than a half-dozen mothers, grandmothers and others claimed that Dove mistreated children during visits and barred parents from being at their kids' side during procedures.
"We're just here trying to protect other innocent children," said Brooke Catalfamo, of Reseda, who said Dove slapped her 5-year-old son in the face when he cried.
Another group held a similar protest recently outside Dove's office in Bakersfield, and critics have launched a Facebook page to detail complaints.
This commercial for Dr. Edward Dove's Chatsworth pediatric dental office is on YouTube. (Bottom of this page)
Dove, who has been practicing for 21 years, did not respond Friday to multiple calls for comment, or make an appearance outside of his Chatsworth office.
However, in an interview broadcast this month by a Bakersfield news station, he denied the allegations and said he was being harassed.
"I do not hit anybody, I do not punch anybody," Dove said. "It's all bogus."
One of the demonstrators, Ashley Tucker, of Santa Clarita, said her 7-year-old daughter emerged from a recent visit to Dove's office "trembling, sweating and drenched."
Although she had been given an oral sedative, the girl was strapped to a papoose board to immobilize her, Tucker said. Dove also covered the youngster's mouth to stifle her cries and pinched her nostrils shut when she refused to open her mouth, Tucker said.
"She said, `Mom, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't breathe,"' Tucker said. "She's been having nightmares ever since."
Several parents have given accounts of Dove's staff giving children a "Kool-Aid"-type sedative to drink as recently as two weeks ago.
Dove's certification to practice oral sedation techniques is listed as delinquent as of Aug. 31, after he failed to pay the renewal fee, according to Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the state Board of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the dental board.
"He should not be administering oral conscious sedation to anyone," Heimerich said. "That's something that could lead to his license being revoked."
Some parents said they had lodged complaints with the Dental Board of California. However, an official would not say whether Dove is being investigated, citing privacy issues.
No record of disciplinary actions against Dove was listed on the board's site.
The LAPD said it was investigating a complaint it had received against Dove.
"You got a small child in a dentist's office, very emotional, very hard to control," said Lt.
Tim Torsney of LAPD Devonshire Division. "We're looking at whether or not the actions in order to perform the measures needed for the dental work ... were appropriate."
Other parents have been propelled to action by finding similar stories from others online.
Tara Kim, of Winnetka, said her daughter was 4 when they first visited Dove's office in 2009. The girl said that the dentist had grabbed her cheeks hard and told her, "If you cry, I'll make it hurt more," Kim said.
"I'm embarrassed as a parent to say I let her go back there," said Kim, breaking into tears. "I felt like I could trust him."
During the three-hour demonstration, Dove's staff threatened to have protesters who entered the office arrested for trespassing and they locked the doors. They did call police, but the officers left when the demonstration remained peaceful.
A mother and her teenage daughter who declined to give their names showed up to confront demonstrators, with the daughter defending Dove, saying that he did good work and the other children and parents were overreacting or lying.