When a veterinarian goes wrong and does wrong the public are outraged but the organisations which have the authority to punish bad veterinarians see it completely differently. They look for a way to protect the bad vet. They have to punish him because of public pressure but they do so to the barest minimum. This is a disconnect between how the public perceive animal abuse committed by vets and how the governing bodies respond to it.
There are two examples which I want to call upon.
Dr Mahavir Rekhi
Thousands of people voiced their concerns about the behaviour of this veterinarian. His animal abuse which took place at the clinic was exposed in September by a former employee who filmed him. He is seen choking, hitting and abusing animals in his care. The exact opposite to the sort of behaviour he is paid to dispense.
Despite the hard evidence of behaviour which goes against everything that a vet should stand for and in total disregard of his veterinary oath, the governing body, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), gave Rekhi a metaphorical slap on the wrist by suspending his license to practice until December when he could be back at work. He is unsuited to working with animals.
The public protested and the CVO are having a fresh look at their disciplinary procedures. I don’t expect things to change to be honest.
Dr Kristen Lindsey
This woman is infamous for killing a ginger tabby cat in her back yard with a bow an arrow. She arrogantly displayed her ‘kill’ on Facebook. She was proud of her behaviour. The public was in uproar all over social media. There were demands for her license to practice to be withdrawn. The disciplinary procedure was interminable and the upshot? Lindsey was suspended for five years. This means one year down time (no vet employment) and four years in probation. There was also an order for re-education. This was another slap on the wrist. She is even appealing this decision. The arrogance. She is unsuited to being a veterinarian. You won’t change her mentality.
When does a veterinarian get struck off the register of veterinarians? How bad have they got to be?
The public want to see the highest standards of animal welfare from veterinarians. They expect it. A veterinarian is administering treatment to a beloved family member. A sentient being and a living creature. Nothing but the best is acceptable.
I think perhaps one problem is that too many people even today regard animals as lesser creatures. The standard of care of a vet is not as high as for a doctor treating humans. It should be the same.
There was an interesting article in the paper today about fish. The cogent argument was that even though humans kill 17 billion fish annually they are sentient beings with emotions, memory and relationships. We don’t respect fish enough. We still don’t respect animals enough. Good cat caretakers do respect their cats and provide tons of TLC but vets can become blasé about their patients.
The governing bodies need to think more about serving the clients and the patients and less about finding ways to get bad vets off the hook.