… has come to a close, for now.
To summarize, there’s this vet who was (and still is) practicing in St Catharines (a city in southern Ontario that has a really good vegan doughnut place). He is not a very good vet. His staff members took covert video footage of his particular brand of veterinary medicine, which included slamming animals, choking them, and punching them.
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario disciplined the vet by suspending him for ten months, slapping him with a fine, and are requiring that he gets retrained on how to restrain animals.
So, here’s the thing about that.
There’s already quite a lot of mistrust of veterinarians and vet medicine in general. When a doctor or an RVT takes your pet to the back to do a few procedures out of sight, pretty much their most important job is to ensure that the human client trusts them to be kind, gentle, humane. While it’s true that restraint is usually required to get procedures done safely, and that even minimal restraint can be upsetting for doting humans to see, for the most part the staff at the back are good at what they do and are doing it right because to do it wrong would go against their entire being.
Now people have seen this footage of a vet slamming animals around, and of course every time they drop off their pet for surgery or even just to get a vaccine done they’re going to worry on some level about what’s going on back there. They also know that the CVO didn’t revoke his license, which is absolutely what they should have done, if only to protect the profession. But also because, yeah, dude needs to not be practicing medicine. It’s going to be hard to convince people to trust veterinary medicine as a whole when the CVO won’t even suspend someone who is on camera punching a chihuahua.
Earlier this week this story somehow got worse, because the Crown decided to drop all sixteen charges of animal cruelty against the vet filed by the OSPCA. They decided to do this because the CVO had already investigated and disciplined the vet.
There was also something about the OSPCA officer investigating without a proper complaint being filed. The officer says he was responding to the video footage that had been released to the public and was widely viewed.
Laws are complicated, but for animal cruelty laws in Canada and Ontario specifically, it really does come down to whether you have sympathetic law enforcement on your side or not. And precedent. Precedent is key.
The crown could have pursued the animal cruelty charges. There was evidence. Crimes had clearly been committed. There are lots of precedent-setting cases of dogs and cats being struck and the abuser being found guilty of animal cruelty. And as for the CVO, well, it isn’t the CVO’s job to prosecute veterinarians for animal cruelty. That task is left to the OSPCA and cooperative prosecution. Alas.
Everything went wrong here. The CVO should have taken a more decisive stance, and law enforcement should have actually enforced laws. By not doing so, the next case of an abusive vet (and it’s coming) will be harder to prosecute, not easier. It will be harder, not easier, to obtain justice for the animals who are abused next, and it will be harder, not easier, to prevent something like this from happening again without demonstrating that there are tangible and appropriate consequences.
The vet in question and his family have received death threats, so I guess I should add that that’s never cool. The dude is garbage and he should find a job that doesn’t involve animals, or humans, really, but no death threats, thanks.
Also, his clinic is still open and people are still going there. Hint: don’t. There are vet clinics everywhere; find a new one.
Don’t watch the video, though. Instead, watch this.