St. Catharines vet seen choking animals on video charged with animal cruelty
Published Thursday, June 1, 2017 1:40PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, June 1, 2017 6:53PM EDT
A St. Catharines veterinarian seen on video choking and hitting animals in his care at his clinic has been handed 16 animal cruelty charges by the OSPCA.
The allegations against Dr. Mahavir Rekhi surfaced in September of 2016 when several of his former employees approached CTV News Toronto with surveillance videos showing animals being punched and improperly restrained at the Skyway Animal Hospital in St. Catharines.
Those employees quietly documented the acts over the course of three years.
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario was alerted to Rekhi’s actions by the employees and issued a 10-month suspension and $10,000 fine.
But his former employees felt unsatisfied with the punishment, calling it “a slap on the wrist, if anything.”
The new charges stem from an ongoing investigation between the Lincoln County Humane Society and the Ontario Society for Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).
Rekhi is now facing eight counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and eight counts of failing to provide suitable and adequate care for an animal under the Criminal Code of Canada.
“A great deal of information was brought forth during this investigation,” OSPCA regional inspector Carol VanderHeide wrote in a statement.
“The investigations team thoroughly examined all relevant evidence, which allowed us to proceed with the 16 charges against the accused.”
In one video, Rekhi can be seeing picking up a cat under anesthesia by its tail and swinging it around. The cat’s limp body slams up against the side of the cupboard before he puts it back down.
In another video, a young dog squirms while getting its nails clipped. Rekhi can then be seen smacking the dog over the snout with the clippers to get it to behave.
Uproar over the vet’s actions came to a boil in February of 2017 when he was spotted back in his Welland Avenue clinic. The clinic had otherwise remained close until that point.
Pet owners – some of which recognized their own pets being abused in the videos – swarmed the clinic to protest.
One sign carried by a protester outside the clinic showed a photo of Rekhi with the words “Dr. Evil.”
The lawyer representing Rekhi previously told The Canadian Press that the doctor and his family have received death threats since the videos became public.
He argued that Rekhi, who attended veterinary school in India, was taught to treat animals “differently.”
Rekhi is scheduled to appear in a St. Catharines courtroom on July 14.