St. Catharines vet caught on video faces 16 criminal charges of animal cruelty

Mahavir Rekhi, shown on video choking and hitting cats and dogs, has been charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty.
Mahavir Singh Rekhi already pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the College of Veterinarians of Ontario last year. Now he faces 16 criminal charges. (Skyway Animal Hospital)

A St. Catharines veterinarian depicted on video striking, choking and slamming cats and dogs has been charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty.

The Ontario SPCA has charged Mahavir Singh Rekhi, of Skyway Animal Hospital, in relation to abuses it says occurred in 2013.

Those charges include eight counts of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, and eight indictable counts of failing to provide suitable and adequate care, said Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS) in a media release.

Rekhi drew widespread ire last year when videos taken by former employees were made public showing him with a number of animals. 

He pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the College of Veterinarians of Ontario last July after four former employees complained. The video became part of the evidence at that hearing. He was suspended for 10 months and fined $10,000.

The Ontario SPCA, along with LCHS inspectors, launched a criminal investigation on Sept. 14.

"A great deal of information was brought forth during this investigation," said Carol VanderHeide, regional inspector with the Ontario SPCA. "The investigations team thoroughly examined all relevant evidence, which allowed us to proceed with 16 charges against the accused."

Rekhi will appear in St. Catharines court on July 14. The maximum penalty for both crimes is five years in prison.

Rekhi's lawyer, Neil Adamson, told reporters in September that Rekhi had received death threats after people saw the videos. He said Rekhi was trained in India, in a jurisdiction that treats animals "differently," but that he had taken responsibility for his actions.