Vet testifies against couple’s euthanizing service

Vet testifies against couple’s euthanizing service

TORONTO – An expert in veterinary medicine says euthanizing pets should involve only a vet and the owner because having a third party act as a go-between can cause problems.

Dr. Nigel Gumley, a past president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, testified in a Toronto court today at the trial of a couple charged with practising veterinary medicine without a licence.

Eric and Shelley Blechman are the co-owners of Pet Heaven, which arranges for veterinarians to make house calls for owners who want their pets euthanized at home.

Some of the Blechmans’ clients have complained about the way in which their pets were put down, with one woman calling one of the vets a “butcher.”

Gumley says euthanasia for pets is more than “just sticking a needle into a vein,” and that it’s a serious and emotional event for the owner.

He says if the vet interacts directly with the client, misunderstandings can be avoided.

The defence is arguing that it is not an offence “to be an agent to someone seeking the services of a mobile veterinarian” or to provide “ancillary services” such as funerals.

The Blechmans maintain they arranged the services because vets typically won’t go to people’s homes.

In earlier testimony Friday, a veterinarian who provides in-home pet care said he never worked for Pet Heaven — but the court later produced more than 80 cheque stubs written by the company to him totalling $28,000.

Dr. Grigory Brodetsky had told court the company would pick up the bodies of animals he had euthanized but that he was never an employee.

Justice of the peace Kevin Madigan told Brodetsky his testimony brought him close to being in contempt of court.

Court has heard that Eric Blechman would typically arrive at the pet’s home, tender an invoice and get a release form signed, and a few minutes later, a vet would arrive to administer the final shots.

Clients said they considered it inappropriate that Blechman would show up wearing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle jacket or driving a pickup truck with Harley decals.