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In an upsetting and disturbing turn of events, all charges against a controversial St. Catharines veterinarian who was facing 16 criminal counts of animal cruelty have now been dropped.
Veterinarian Dr. Mahavir Rekhi was secretly filmed choking, punching, and violently restraining animals at the Skyway Animal Hospital over the course of three years of practice.
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario launched an investigation into possible abuse by the vet after four former employees submitted a complaint along with a dozen videos showing Rekhi punching, hitting, choking, and manhandling several animals in his care.
According to statements provided to the College, Rekhi grabbed a Chihuahua by the throat and punched the dog multiple times in the face. Another incident described the veterinarian hitting a Husky in the face while the dog was under anesthetic to be neutered. A Malamute in his care was repeatedly struck in the face with guillotine cutters. And, a cat’s tail was fractured in 5 places while in his care.
As a result of their investigation, Rekhi was facing eight counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and eight counts of failing to provide suitable and adequate care for an animal.
In a decision that should outrage all animal lovers, ALL 16 charges against the St Catharines vet were dropped because of the order in which the investigation was handled.
A Crown lawyer told St. Catharines court Friday that the Ontario SPCA started the investigation and received a warrant without a formal complaint against the veterinarian. Kevin Strooband, an OSPCA officer involved in the investigation, told The Canadian Press that he initiated the investigation without receiving a formal complaint because of the graphic video evidence he’d received.
Because the OSPCA went to the College of Veterinarians for information rather than the other way around Rekhi is protected by the Charter against criminal charges. Rekhi’s lawyer asserted that since the College had already taken disciplinary action against the veterinarian – they found him guilty of professional misconduct, suspended his license for 10 months and ordered mandatory training on restraining animals – that was all he should face.
After completing the retraining program and submitting a written paper on what he’d learned, Rekhi’s suspension was reduced to 6-months. He returned to work in February and is now free and clear of any abuse charges against him.