Warning: Graphic content in image/gif below.
If a veterinarian who was caught on tape punching and choking his patients comes back to work, will the community ever forgive him?
That’s a question the staff of Skyway Animal Hospital in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada may soon find out. That’s because the lead veterinarian and owner of the practice, Mahavir Singh Rekhi, DVM, is returning after he was suspended for professional misconduct by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario. Dr. Rekhi pled guilty after his four of employees filed complaints against him for mistreating animals. As CP 24 reports, the employees said Rekhi “improperly handled or restrained and/or mistreated, struck or abused animals in his care,” and included video evidence.
As CP 24 writes:
“According to the statement, in Oct. 2013, Rekhi ‘grabbed Taz, a Chihuahua, by the throat and punched the dog multiple times in the face.’
Another incident documented in the case indicates that Rekhi also hit a husky in the face while the dog was under anesthetic during a neuter procedure.”
Rekhi was given a $10,000 fine and a 10-month suspension, though there was an option to reduce the suspension to six months if he attended training classes. At the hearing, Rekhi’s lawyer said the videos were taken out of context, and he came from a country where animals were treated differently.
If the community as a whole believes that remains to be seen. On his return, residents of St. Catharines protested outside of his clinic.
One resident, Mike Robinson, who was one of the owners whose dog was part of the investigation into Rekhi, was there. “We are trying to get the message out there to as many people as we can that this is the vet who abused these animals,” Robinson told CP 24. “We can’t stop him from practicing but we want to put a dent in his business and try to force him out of here.”
Veterinarians who are caught harming or killing animals often face anger and calls for justice from the community and country at large, as in the case of Kristen Lindsey, DVM, who killed a cat with a bow-and-arrow. After her Facebook post her standing showing a dead cat with an arrow piercing its skull and described the image as “my first bow kill” went viral, Dr. Lindsey was fired from her position at the practice she worked at, and later had her license suspended.