Vet charged over pet sheep's treatment

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 13:38 01/07/2014

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Eleven people, including several lawyers, have assembled at a downtown Auckland hotel to discuss the plight of a distant pregnant pet sheep that can only be known as "C".

Her real name and location have been suppressed by the little known judicial committee of the Veterinary Council. The committee is hearing five charges against a vet over his treatment.

His name is suppressed. While the sheep is dead and could perhaps be named, it's unusual enough that her sad story will be well-known in the small rural town where it occurred.

Five people have flown in from rural New Zealand to consider a case that is pretty far removed from life in downtown Auckland.

Readers of James Herriot might, though, recognise some of the more basic ways of checking a farm animal's health.

The vet is accused of having failed to recognise that "C" was pregnant, thus making further examination unnecessary.

What allegedly happened next turns on the question of what a vet can do with a sheep.

The vet's lawyer, Greg Jones, opened his defence today by calling for an adjournment of a month. He objected to some of the expert evidence tendered by the Veterinary Council's complaints assessment committee (CAC).

The vet had been accused of causing distress by internally examining "C" "up to his armpit".

Jones said some would regard this as remarkable, but he felt it was "highly unlikely" and later added the claim was ridiculous.

Defence experts suggested that if the vet did what he is accused to have done, the force would have killed "C" quickly, Jones said.

For the CAC, Matthew McClelland argued that the hearing should continue. Despite the technical evidence, the accusers had two witnesses, including "C's" owner, who had seen what the vet did.

"That is the evidence."

What caused the death of 'C' later is in dispute.

The committee chaired by Royden Hindle later decided to adjourn and resume its three-day hearing on September 15.

The vet faces being struck off or suspended as a vet, if found guilty, and fined up to $30,000.

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