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VN removed from register following animal poisoning conviction

The Veterinary Nurse (VN) Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) directed that a Dunbartonshire-based veterinary nurse’s name be removed from the Register of Veterinary Nurses following her conviction in 2017 for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal.

In August 2017, Georgina Bretman was convicted following her trial before Glasgow Sheriff Court of a criminal offence contrary to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) 2006 Act in relation to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to her two-year-old dog Florence.

The Sheriff Court found Bretman guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to Florence by injecting a poisonous or injurious drug – namely insulin – causing the dog to suffer from hypoglycemia, collapse, convulsions and seizures, requiring immediate veterinary treatment to avoid coma and death.

Following her conviction, Bretman was sentenced to a Community Payback Order, with a requirement to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work, and an order was made to take Florence away from her and to ban her from owning a dog for two years.

The VN Disciplinary Committee hearing for Bretman took place on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 May 2019. She admitted to the charge against her.

The Committee went on to consider whether the charge rendered Bretman unfit to practise. It found her actions in deliberately administering a poisonous substance to Florence and risking her death to be “very serious and deplorable conduct on the part of a veterinary nurse, a member of a profession specifically entrusted to look after and care for animals.”

Stuart Drummond, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “Miss Bretman’s conduct was also liable to have a seriously detrimental effect on the reputation of the profession and to undermine public confidence in the profession. The fact that she was a veterinary nurse was made clear at the trial and reported in the press.

“The Committee considered that members of the public would be rightly appalled that a Registered Veterinary Nurse had committed an offence of this kind. The Committee was satisfied that this conduct fell far below the standard expected of a registered veterinary nurse and that Miss Bretman’s conviction was of a nature and seriousness that rendered her unfit to practise.”

In mitigation the Committee took into account the fact she had no previous disciplinary history, had received positive references and testimonials and that, following the conviction, she demonstrated a willingness to be removed from the register and to not work with animals to “avoid causing embarrassment to the RCVS”.

The Committee then directed the RCVS registrar to remove Bretman’s name from the register. She has 28 days from being notified of the Committee’s decision to submit an appeal.

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