A very unexpected and unforgivable breach of trust occurred in the Niagara region. If you live in the Niagara area, or anywhere in Ontario for that matter (even my mom from North Bay heard it on the news), you know what I’m talking about. For those unfamiliar with the story, a vet, Dr. Mahavir Rekhi from Skyway Animal Hospital in St Catharines, was found guilty of mistreating animals in his care. His staff bravely took undercover footage and turned it over to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) in 2014. Just this August, a ruling was released giving Dr. Rekhi a 10-month suspension along with mandatory attendance to sessions about treating animals properly. It seems ironic to me – the proper care of animals should be as second nature to an experienced vet as treating patients with gentleness and care is to a nurse, doctor or dentist. Oh and let’s not forget that by attending these courses, he may get his license back in as early as 6-months.
What perhaps is most unsettling is how light his sentence is. Imagine if a family medical doctor was caught handling a young child the way Dr. Rekhi did animals? I don’t know the legalities, but I image must stiffer consequences, perhaps even criminal charges, would be laid.
A $10,000 fine has also been added to his slap on the wrist along with the CVO vowing he will be subjected to three annual unannounced inspections for the next two years. Unless by “unannounced”, they mean hide in the closet to see what he’s actually up to when people aren’t watching, I’m missing the point. How will these inspections actually prove if he is now upholding his oath to properly treat the lives of animals entrusted on him, when in the past all cases of misconduct occurred behind the watchful eyes of those who had the power to do something about it?
Thoughts to Share:
Rather than rehash the nitty gritty details that you probably already know or can easily get caught up on with a quick Google search, I want to share a few thoughts that came to mind about this baffling and disheartening issue:
I have a good friend who had the misfortunate of being a client of Dr. Rekhi’s. Finding out the news was devastating to her, to say the least. While her fur baby was thankfully not in any of the video footage, she described to me the feeling of despair, anger, and disgust to have found out a doctor she had full trust in, someone, who showed no outward red flags of improper care, turns out to be the complete opposite behind closed doors. If he were Maverick & Marti’s vet, I would feel sick to my stomach too. The betrayal of trust Dr. Rekhi exhibited was not only to the innocent animals in his care but extends to the owners who entrusted him with their beloved companions.
The saying “you never really know someone” could not be closer to the truth in this case.
I am not one to make a ruse out of things – I’ve never stood at a picket line or voiced strong opinions at meetings or events. But this issue hit home like nothing else before making me realize and appreciate why strong voices are needed. Unreasonable behavior cannot be ignored and I am so thankful for those people and associations who started petitions and are advocating for Dr. Rekhi’s license to removed indefinitely. They deserve the most utmost respect and appreciation. Like children, dogs are innocent and deserve nothing less than unconditional love and adoration, just like they give us. They don’t have a voice so we need to rally together and find one for them.
If we all take the small steps within our control, a difference can be made. It helps us to take back control and propel positive action forward. Time cannot be rewound to prevent those animals from being hurt in the first place but future pain can be prevented. It all starts with each and every one of us.
Every simple action helps ensure cases like this don’t happen again (remember, if a precedent of stricter consequences happens with Dr. Rekhi, it will set the stage for future cases and deter other animal care professionals from the mistreatment of animals)
The two simple steps that is reasonable for us all to do include:
1. Advocate for change
There are several petitions online that you can add your name in support to revoke his license permanently. Please take a moment to do so! As of the date this blog was posted, neither petition has reached their goal (but they are close!). People from all over the world are supporting which goes to show treating animals humanely with love and care is a universal value most of us share.
2. Give your pets extra TLC
While this may not change what Dr. Rekhi did or will do, it sure does help to make sure we are doing all things in our control to give our pets the best life possible. Spend an extra 5-minutes cuddling and petting them. Take them out for an extra walk. Go for a car ride. Venture out to a new dog park. The more energy we devote to giving love and care to our pets, the dimmer the effect of the inexcusable actions of this one vet.
What are your thoughts on the penalty Dr. Rekhi has been issued? What actions have you, or do you plan to take? Please share!
How can this blog help you?
This website and blog originated from the experience of learning to let go of my beloved Heart Dog, Maverick. By sharing my story and offering the opportunity for you to share yours, I hope we can all truly celebrate their lives. pay tribute, and heal from the loss of our one true canine companion. I hope this website will also raise awareness of the meaning of a Heart Dog because it is a concept that is not largely understood.