St. Catharines veterinarian Dr. Mahavir Rekhi, the owner of Skyway Hospital on Welland Avenue who was caught on camera abusing animals at his clinic has had his charges of animal cruelty dropped. (main picture, a protest held outside Skyway Animal Hospital)
Despite video evidence that was circulated widely on social media, Rekhi, who was 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 is off the hook.
The Crown prosecutor said in court Friday that because the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started an investigation into Rekhi without receiving a formal complaint, he should not have been charged criminally.
As a result, plus the fact that the College of Veterinarians of Ontario already took disciplinary action, the Crown asked to drop all 16 criminal charges against Rekhi. (Below, some of the victims speak out at a protest that was held last October when news broke of abuses):
The College of Veterinarians disciplinary actions included Rekhi being ordered to pay the college $10,000, be retrained to properly restrain animals, and be subject to three unannounced inspections each year for two years.
His suspension was cut down to six months after he completed the retraining program and prepared a paper about what he had learned.
Kevin Strooband, executive director of the Lincoln County Humane Society and an OSPCA officer involved in the investigation said that he started the investigation without receiving a complaint because of the graphic video evidence he witnessed in media reports.
If convicted of the criminal charges, Rekhi who did not show up in court, faced up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000 and a lifetime ban on owning or caring for an animal. (Below, Dr. Rekhi)
Disappointment and surprise with the outcome of the case was evident and Ed Klassen, president of the board of directors at the Lincoln County Humane Society is encouraging the public to contact the Ministry of the Attorney General to voice their concerns about the charges being dropped
As for the current status of the Skyway Animal Hospital, Dr. Rekhi returned to work in February at the Welland Ave. clinic.
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