A VET WHO docked a litter of 13 Rottweilers is facing costs and fines totalling more than £40,000.
David Smith, who owns Lake View Veterinary Surgery in Union Road, Deal, Kent, a surgery in Crete Road West in Folkestone and a horse unit in Finglesham, Kent, was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering by docking the three-day-old puppies in March 2008.
At the conclusion of his trial at Dover Magistrates Court last week he was ordered to pay £39,000 in costs, and pay penalties of £2,000 for the docking and £1,300 for causing unnecessary suffering.
Smith, of Lower Farm, Finglesham, denied the charges.
In May 2009 the RSPCA, which brought the prosecution, heard about Star, a 13-month-old docked Rottweiler bitch who was living with her owner in Herne Bay; the procedure had been carried out after the 2006 Animal Welfare Act came into effect in 2007 changing the docking law. The only exception to the ban is for working dogs.
Smith’s legal representative, Anne-Marie Gregory, said her client had not known Rottweilers should not be docked, and that he had investigated whether it was permitted legally because he believed the puppies were to be used for security and law enforcement work.
“When he called DEFRA he was given conflicting answers,” she said.
It was reported at an earlier hearing that two of the puppies yelped when they were docked. The RSPCA’s expert witness Jeremy Stattersfield – another east Kent vet – made a statement which read: “Vocalising is indicative of pain. The absence of vocalisation does not mean there is no pain.”
Smith was also criticised for not certifying the docking properly.
After the trial, he told local reporters: “(Paying the fines and costs) won’t mean the business folds, but I can’t pay in the 28 days. This whole thing has cost me £60,000, and for doing what?”