Dog hit by vet suffered mental scars, board told

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:00am

A veterinarian who allegedly slapped the face of a sick dog at least four times at his clinic was accused of professional misconduct yesterday.

The owner said the incident had left Wai-Wai, her pet five-year-old West Highland terrier, with psychological scars.

Dr Mark Benjamin was facing the first disciplinary hearing against a vet in Hong Kong since the Veterinary Surgeons' Board was set up in 1997. Afterwards, the dog's owner, Cheung Yick-kuen said she would have preferred it if the vet had slapped her.

Ms Cheung accuses Dr Benjamin of slapping the dog across its jaw when the vet was trying to weigh the animal in his clinic in Victory Avenue, Mongkok, on November 7 last year. Dr Benjamin's defence will be presented at the next hearing, for which a date has yet to be set.

Ms Cheung took her pet to the clinic after its weight dropped from 8kg to 6kg within weeks, the board was told. 'Inside the clinic, the dog was scared and moved around on the scales, making it difficult to read its weight. Then Dr Benjamin grabbed the dog by the scruff of its neck and slapped it in its face at least four times,' she said.

She claimed the dog was so scared it hid under a bed for a week.

The doctor left the clinic in March, the board was told.

Ms Cheung, a trading company clerk, said Wai-Wai was her first pet dog and had been bought for $7,000 when the animal was two months old.

Counsel for the secretary of the board, Josiah Lee, said: 'Even if there are some good reasons [for the hitting], if a vet hits the puppy using excessive force or doing something disgraceful, unethical or dishonourable as set out in the Code of Practice for registered veterinary surgeons, it would amount to misconduct.'

Defence lawyer James McGowan said the charge involved 'a very wide and woolly allegation'.

The hearing was adjourned.