A well-known equine vet was found guilty of “disgraceful professional misconduct” and struck off by the disciplinary panel of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) last week for backdating vaccination entries on three racehorse passports.
John Walker, 60, who is known as Alan and practises at Hook Norton Veterinary Surgery, told H&H he believed he was harshly treated on his first disciplinary charge in a 26-year career.
“The Royal College gave me a very fair hearing,” he said, “and I understand that it needs to maintain the integrity of the profession, but I feel I have been made an example of.”
The complaint against Dr Walker was lodged by Mr and Mrs Odell, the owners of racehorses Ryton Run, Moorlands Again and Six Clerks.
Nicole Curtis, for the RCVS, explained that Moorlands Again was vaccinated against equine influenza and tetanus on 26 September 2003, but that Dr Walker entered the date in the gelding’s passport as 10 September 2003. It is a breach of Jockey Club rules for horses to run without being vaccinated against equine influenza, although Moorlands Again did not run under Rules between March 2003 and October 2004.
The disciplinary panel heard than similar wrong entries were discovered for the other two horses and, although they rules that the mistake on Ryton Run’s passport was a genuine clerical error, Dr Walker was found guilty of professional misconduct in the other two cases.
“I can’t explain how it happened, I just made a mistake,” said Dr Walker. “All three horses were fully covered and no harm came to them.”
Dr Walker has 28 days from the date of the ruling (30 January, ’07) to appeal. If he decided not to, he can apply to be reinstated as a registered vet in 10 months’ time.
Read this news story in full in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (8 February, ’07)