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Kent vet suspended for dishonest certification

15 December 2010

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal Council of Veterinary Surgeons has suspended from the Register for eight months a Kent veterinary surgeon found guilty of dishonest certification.

At the outset of the hearing held on 14/15 December, Takeshi Okano, of Lakeview Veterinary Centre in Deal, Kent, admitted charges that, whilst acting as Official Veterinarian, he had signed a number of certificates when he knew that did not have all the information needed to do so.

On 23 June 2009, Mr Okano had been asked to act as Official Veterinarian to examine four horses and sign the certificates necessary for their export to the USA.

The certificates required Mr Okano to certify he had received a written declaration from the owners that the animals had been in the UK for 60 days previously. Mr Okano also signed certificates indicating that the horses had only been in France, Ireland, or the UK for the same 60-day period.

Despite having received no such declarations, and having no information whatsoever of where the horses had been, Mr Okano signed the certificates. At the hearing, no explanation for Mr Okano’s actions was offered.

“The validity of any certificate is an integral part of the system relating to the export or import of animals,” said Mrs Beverley Cottrell, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee. “At Section G of the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct, emphasis is given to the importance of certification, the importance of the signature and the guidance issued by DEFRA. These provisions are well known to the profession.”

The Committee was satisfied that Mr Okano’s actions in signing the certificates without the owners’ declarations amounted to a serious departure from professional standards.

In reaching a decision on sanction, it considered that, whilst a reprimand or warning would not be appropriate, neither would removing Mr Okano’s name from the Register be proportionate, or necessary either in the public interest or to protect animals.

“Mr Okano is a young veterinary surgeon at the start of his career, who from the outset admitted his actions,” said Mrs Cottrell noting that the testimonials from veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and clients, and his record of Continuing Professional Development demonstrated his commitment to high standards within the profession.

“In reaching this decision, we have paid particular regard to the fact the false certification was neither persistent nor concealed, nor was he a senior veterinary surgeon.”

The Committee directed Mr Okano’s name be suspended from the Register for eight months.

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