A Leicestershire vet has been suspended from the Register for four months, after he was found guilty of kicking and stamping on a dog that had bitten him.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Disciplinary Committee hearing related to three charges against Jatinder Dhami while he was in practice at the Market Harborough branch of Vets4Pets – owned by Pets at Home.
The first charge against him was that, on November 14, 2017, he used excessive force in kicking and stamping on a Staffordshire bull terrier he was treating.
The second charge was that, between October 1 and November 30 that same year, he failed to pay adequate regard to the welfare of a Jack Russell in his care by leaving it in a sink without adequate reason and for an excessive period of time.
The third charge was that, between April 22, 2017 and March last year, he failed to have adequate regard to the welfare of a six-to-eight week old kitten, including providing bedding and warmth.
At the outset of the hearing, he admitted to lightly kicking the dog, but denied forcefully kicking it and also denied that he had stamped on the dog, as well as denying the other two charges against him.
In considering the circumstances of the first charge, the committee heard evidence from two of Dr Dhami’s colleagues stating that the dog had bitten him while he was cleaning its ears and, following this, he took the dog out of the consulting room, closed the door and, while holding the dog’s lead, then proceeded to kick her twice, knocking her along the floor both times, and then finally stamped on her when she was prone.
He disputed his colleagues’ version of events, however, and stated that he had delivered only two light kicks to the dog’s rump and, neither of which had made her fall to the floor, and also denied in categorical terms that he stamped on the animal. He also denied the second and third charges against him.
In considering the evidence as to whether he kicked and stamped on the dog, the Disciplinary Committee found the evidence of his two colleagues to be credible and reliable and so found all aspects of the charge proven.
Ian Green, chairing the committee, said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the committee finds that the admitted kicks administered to [the animal] by the respondent were of significant force. The committee rejects the respondent’s assertion that the admitted kicks amounted to mere taps on the backside. The committee finds that the ‘stamping’ was also of significant force.”
In regards to the second and third charges, the committee was not satisfied that the charges had been proven by the evidence it heard and, therefore, dismissed them both.
Having found all parts of the first charge proven, the committee went on to consider whether or not the vet’s conduct amounted to serious professional misconduct, something that Dr Dhami, following the committee’s decision on the facts, through his counsel, had admitted. The committee identified a number of aggravating factors, including the real risk of physical harm to the animal and the deliberate nature of his conduct against the animal, committed in anger.
In mitigation, the committee accepted that this was an isolated incident and that Dr Dhami had been bitten and was in pain. The committee, therefore, found that his admission of serious professional misconduct was ‘properly and prudently made’.
The committee then considered what sanction to impose on Dr Dhami, taking into account some of the written testimonials and character witnesses called on his behalf. The Committee was also satisfied that he had had a hitherto long and unblemished career, that he had apologised to colleagues immediately after the incident and that, since the events, he had continued to work as a vet without any problems.
The committee decided that suspending Dr Dhami from the Register for four months would be the most proportionate sanction.
Dr Dhami has 28 days from being informed of the outcome of the hearing in which to make an appeal to the Privy Council.