The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has welcomed the three-year prison term handed down at Taunton Crown Court on 17 October to Peter Keniry, who used the identity of a legitimately registered vet to fraudulently practise as a veterinary surgeon.
The RCVS played a proactive role in Mr Keniry’s arrest and trial after its Chief Investigator, Michael Hepper, was alerted to the fact that he was working at a veterinary practice in Taunton, Somerset. Within 24 hours Mr Hepper reported this to Avon & Somerset Police and attended the practice with officers to assist in Mr Keniry’s identification and arrest. Mr Hepper continued to assist with police investigations and gave a witness statement.
Eleanor Ferguson, RCVS Registrar, said: “We are grateful to the veterinary professional who voiced her suspicions to us, to our Chief Investigator who reacted quickly to confirm his identity and report the matter to the police and to Avon & Somerset Police for taking matters forward so quickly.
“Mr Keniry was known to the RCVS as we have assisted in previous police investigations into him for similar offences. As with recent cases Mr Keniry impersonated a legitimate member of the veterinary profession using fraudulent documentation and this is why we have previously published photographs of him to raise awareness with veterinary practices and to try and stop him being employed in the future.
“We believe that Mr Keniry is a threat to animal health and welfare. He is a repeat offender and so we are glad that he has been handed a significant custodial sentence.
“While sophisticated and convincing fraudsters like Mr Keniry can be very difficult to prevent, we would urge veterinary practices to be vigilant. For example, we recommend that potential employers contact our Registration Department to make checks, always interview a potential employee face-to-face, ask to see supporting identity documents, prepare questions which confirm where and when they studied, obtain references and, if they are employed, mentor the new member of staff to oversee their performance.
“For members of the public we recommend that, if they have concerns about the legitimacy of their veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurses, they talk to someone else in the practice about their concerns or contact us so that we can make further enquiries. Members of the public can also check on the status of veterinary professionals using our Find a Vet search tool: www.findavet.org.uk
“We would like to emphasise that cases such as that of Peter Keniry are, in our experience, extremely rare. There are around 23,000 veterinary surgeons registered to practise in the UK who are fully trained professionals dedicated to upholding and improving the health and welfare of animals under their care. We don’t believe that the unprecedented actions of this one fraudulent individual should in any way undermine the confidence and trust that animal owners place in their veterinary team.”