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Mr Doherty was convicted, with others (who were also convicted), in a conspiracy to deceive members of the public by passing off puppies that had been bred in puppy farms as being the home-bred offspring of domestic pets living in family homes.
Mr Doherty’s role was that he provided vaccinations and vaccination/health check cards which, the court found, materially contributed to the impression that the puppies had been home-bred locally and were in good health.
Mr Doherty was initially convicted of this offence, resulting in eight months’ imprisonment in April 2018.
However, he subsequently appealed the conviction, which was quashed and resulted in a retrial.
On retrial, Mr Doherty was convicted and sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, 150 hours community service and a £100 victim surcharge.
When deciding on the sanction, the Disciplinary Committee considered that a period of suspension would be sufficient to meet the public interest.
In reaching this conclusion, the Committee took into account that Mr Doherty had, as part of his original conviction, already served eight months in prison before the original conviction was quashed and replaced, on retrial, with a suspended sentence.
He had therefore already, in effect, had a period of suspension from practice, which meant that the deterrent factor in a sanction of suspension had been partially met.
In reaching its decision, the Committee also took into account the circumstances of this case and, in particular, the view of the court that Mr Doherty had been motivated solely by animal welfare concerns and not financial gain, and that it was this overriding concern that had allowed others to exploit his willingness to continue to vaccinate puppies despite their source.
There were no concerns as to Mr Doherty’s skill or dedication as a veterinary surgeon and with regard to the single issue of the appropriate vaccination of puppies and their onward sale, the Committee noted the changes that Mr Doherty had made to his practice procedures to avoid any similar problems occurring in the future.
The full decision and findings from the hearing can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary
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