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All charges dropped against St. Catharines veterinarian accused of animal cruelty

All charges against a St. Catharines vet have been dropped. Doctor Mahavir Rekhi had been facing 16 criminal counts of animal cruelty. faces 16 criminal charges of animal cruelty

Doctor Mahavir Rekhi had been facing 16 criminal counts of animal cruelty

Mahavir Singh Rekhi pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the College of Veterinarians of Ontario in July 2016 after four former employees filed a complaint about his conduct. Doctor Mahavir Rekhi had been facing 16 criminal counts of animal cruelty. The Crown has dropped all charges. (Skyway Animal Hospital)

All charges of animal cruelty against a St. Catharines veterinarian have been dropped.

Doctor Mahavir Rekhi had been facing 16 criminal counts of animal cruelty.

A Crown attorney told a St. Catharines court Friday that the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had launched the investigation and received a warrant without a complaint, and that Rekhi should not have been charged.

The OSPCA says it's disappointed that the Crown has decided to withdraw charges against a St. Catharines veterinarian.

Rekhi, the owner of the Skyway Animal Hospital, was facing eight counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and eight counts of failing to provide suitable and adequate care for an animal.

'The situation is comparable to a police officer who would launch an investigation after stumbling across a body.' - OSPCA officer, Kevin Strooband

The Crown said Friday, Rekhi should not have been charged regardless of public outrage surrounding the case and since the College of Veterinarians of Ontario already took disciplinary action that should be all he gets.

The college launched an investigation after four former employees filed a complaint about Rekhi's treatment of animals in his care, and they submitted a dozen surveillance videos as evidence of the animal abuse.

The investigation

OSPCA officer Kevin Strooband with the Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS) says the media alerted him to videos and he acted.

Strooband told radio station CKTB the situation is comparable to a police officer who would launch an investigation after stumbling across a body.

The OSPCA says it did a thorough investigation that included reviewing video and conducting interviews with witnesses and the owners of pets that were allegedly subjected to abuse. 

Rekhi pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the College of Veterinarians of Ontario in July 2016 after four former employees filed a complaint about his conduct.

The veterinarian was depicted on video striking, choking and slamming cats and dogs. Rekhi drew widespread ire last year when videos taken by former employees were made public showing him with a number of animals. 

The Ontario SPCA, along with LCHS inspectors, launched a criminal investigation on Sept. 14, 2016.

Rekhi was suspended for 10 months and fined $10,000.

Rekhi's lawyer, Neil Adamson, told reporters in September 2016 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.

With files from the Canadian Press