The RCVS disciplinary committee has suspended a former Southampton vet for 10 months for “failing to make animal welfare his primary concern”.

The RCVS disciplinary committee has suspended a former Southampton vet from the RCVS Register for “failing to make animal welfare his primary concern”.

Former Southampton vet suspended for failing to make animal welfare his primary concern.At a hearing on January 17/18, adjourned from September 2010, the disciplinary committee heard charges against Michael Albring, formerly of VetCall practice, Bitterne, Southampton.

Mr Albring was said to have failed to make a home visit to attend Bear, a Newfoundland dog belonging to Mrs Thacker, when he knew (or ought to have known) that there were clinical or welfare grounds making a home visit necessary.

On the evening of December 19, 2009, Mr Albring was the vet on duty at VetCall, an out-of-hours emergency clinic supplying cover for several local practices, including the one where Bear was registered.

When Mrs Thacker’s daughter, Ms Davidson, telephoned VetCall to request a home visit as the dog had collapsed, she was told that it was against practice policy for the practice to be left unmanned. This was despite a written policy that accepted and made provision for occasions when such a home visit would be necessary.

Mr Albring later refused a second telephone request from Ms Davidson and directed her to a local animal ambulance service, which attended. However, unable to transport Bear, the ambulance driver telephoned VetCall to say a home visit was needed. Mr Albring refused again, despite the driver’s offer to collect him, assist with the euthanasia, and return him to the clinic.

Sheila CrispinIn the meantime, Ms Davidson had sought help from another practice and, subsequent to Mr Albring’s refusal to visit, the on-duty veterinary surgeon attended and euthanased Bear.

The disciplinary committee found that Mr Albring’s refusal to visit resulted in Bear spending longer than necessary in pain and distress. Further, as animal welfare had knowingly been neglected and Mr Albring had demonstrated no insight into the seriousness of his conduct, the committee claimed a warning or reprimand would not be enough, and directed that his name be suspended from the RCVS Register of Veterinary Surgeons for 10 months.

Sheila Crispin, chairing the disciplinary committee, said: “A period of suspension would be sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and uphold standards.”

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