Serious Offenders Should Get Jail Time – No Questions Asked!
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted September 16, 2016 on Niagara At Large
I want to begin here by applauding Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates for writing the letter, posted below, that questions the far too lenient treatment a St. Catharines, Ontario veterinarian received at the hands of his own professional association for repeatedly abusing animals he was entrusted to care for.
I think we should all encourage Wayne Gates and other MPPs across the province to follow up this letter the Niagara Falls representative sent this September 15th to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario with legislation that includes far stiffer penalties up to and including time in prison for those found guilty of abusing animals.
The penalties that have long been on the books in Ontario constitute little more than a slap on the wrist – they are a pathetic job and as I have stated in columns I have posted in Niagara At Large and have had published in several other media outlets going back for many years, they almost completely fail to consider research by law enforcement agencies across North America that many people with a history of animal abuse to on to commit violent acts against people.
In the cases of animal abuse reportedly committed by the St. Catharines veterinarian that is the focus of Wayne Gates’ letter, employees in the animal hospital where this individual cared enough to secretly videotape the acts to give added strength to complaints they made to the College of Veterinarians.
But even at that, the offending veterinarian’s punishment, effective this past August, amounts to little or nothing more than having his licence suspended for 10 months and a pathway back to the job in six months if he pays $10,000 for some retraining on how to properly restrain animals in his care.
That, along with six unannounced visits from inspectors for the first two years he is back in practice, is all there is for someone who was reportedly caught on video choking and smacking animals while their owners sat unaware of what was going on in the waiting room.
I know I am far from the only person who has never believed that an association, whether it be one representing police or doctors or real estate agents or veterinarians or any other professional group, can be counted on to properly police and to administer punishment that is fitting to an offence committed by one of its own members. There is simply no guarantee, when you are talking about people who are, after all, colleagues or members of the same fraternity that the victims of an offence are going to see the justice deserved.
In the case that is the focus of Wayne Gates’ letter, it doesn’t speak well for veterinarians at large that an association adjudicating a case of serial abuse of animals rules that the abuser can find his way back to the field, within a matter of months, with a bit of education or training.
I support the view I’ve heard from other pet owners I’ve talked to about this case who believe there should be no pathway back to a job in an animal hospital for abusers like this at all.
Finally, I believe this latest case of abuse teaches us that the first places we should go with reports of animal cruelty are both the police and the humane society in the region where the offence occurred.
It should also drive us, once again, to call on our provincial legislators to set much tougher penalties, up to and including prison terms for those who commit animal cruelty.
There are all too many true crime stories about individuals who practices on dogs or cats or other animals before going on to commit violence on a spouse or a child or someone unfortunate enough to enter their orbit.
Tougher sentences may be the only way of sending a clear message out to would be perpetrators of violence that animal cruelty, in and of itself, is unacceptable and using animals for practice will never go without punishment that hits damn hard.
Now here is Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates’ letter –
Thursday, September 15th, 2016
Dr. Larry Caven
President, The College of Veterinarians of Ontario 2106 Gordon Street Guelph, Ontario N1L 1G6
RE: Dr. Mahavir Singh Rekhi and Actions Towards Animal Patients
Dear Dr. Caven,
I am contacting you regarding a recent CTV Toronto news story which documented several instances of abusive behavior towards animal patients by one of your veterinarian members, Dr. Mahavir Singh Rekhi.
It is my understanding that the college has determined after reviewing the video evidence a ten month suspension and a fine with the possibility of a reduction to four months is an appropriate consequence for this doctor’s abhorrent actions towards helpless animals. Our office has been inundated with comments from constituents around Niagara, who feel these actions and subsequent punishment is unacceptable.
I also find this situation to be particularly upsetting. Animal cruelty is always a detestable act, however it is even more shocking when the cruelty and abuse is delivered at the hands of a professional veterinarian that pet owners are told to trust.
I am curious as to how the college came to the conclusion after reviewing the evidence provided that a ten month suspension was acceptable? I would also like to know why the college did not refer this case to either the Niagara Regional Police or the Lincoln County Humane Society to pursue criminal charges of animal cruelty against Dr. Mahavir Singh Rekhi after reviewing the video evidence?
I hope to see action from the college and a potential review of the decision making process to ensure that innocent animals never suffer under the hands of this Dr. Rekhi again.
Sincerely, Wayne Gates, Member of Provincial Parliament, Niagara Falls Riding
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