The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disciplinary Committee has suspended a Leicester-based veterinary surgeon from the Register for four months, after he was found guilty of kicking and stamping on a dog that had bitten him.
The Disciplinary Committee hearing for Jatinder Dhami took place from Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 July 2019 in relation to three charges against him which took place while he was in practice at Vets4Pets in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
The first charge against him was that, on 14 November 2017, he used excessive force in kicking and stamping on a Staffordshire Bull Terrier he was treating. The second charge was that, between 1 October and 30 November 2017, 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 22 April 2017 and 25 March 2018, 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 Dr Dhami 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 whilst he was cleaning its ears and, following this, he took the dog out of the consulting room, closed the door and whilst holding the dog’s lead then proceeded to kick her twice, knocking her along the floor both times, before stamping on her when she was prone.
Dr Dhami, however, disputed his colleagues’ version of events and stated that he had only delivered “two light kicks” to the dog’s rump, that neither of these had made her fall to the floor and also denied in “categorical terms” that he stamped on the animal. Furthermore, he also denied the second and third charges against him.
In considering the evidence as to whether Dr Dhami 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 and speaking on its behalf, 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 then went on to consider whether or not Dr Dhami’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 Dr Dhami’s 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 Dr Dhami’s admission of serious professional misconduct was “properly and prudently made”.
The Committee said it then considered what sanction to impose on Dr Dhami. In doing so it took into account some of the written testimonials and character witnesses called on behalf of Dr Dhami. The Committee was also satisfied that Dr Dhami 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 veterinary surgeon without any problems.
In relation to insight about the event, the Committee accepted Dr Dhami had provided some evidence of reflection, in that he admitted kicking the dog and accepted that this conduct, once found proven, amounted to serious professional misconduct.
The Committee said it decided that suspending Dr Dhami from the Register for four months would be the “most proportionate sanction”.
Green concluded: “Having regard to all the matters urged by way of mitigation, and having taken into account all the evidence that it has heard, the Committee is satisfied that a period of suspension is sufficient in this case to protect the welfare of animals, maintain public confidence and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct.”