LONDON, September 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons yesterday (4 September 2008) directed that veterinary surgeon William Angus Baird be restored to the RCVS Register after his removal in July 2007 for serious professional misconduct.

Mr Baird, who at the time of the original one-day hearing owned the Happy Pet Veterinary Clinic in Yeovil, but is now based in New Zealand, was convicted of a Charge relating to his refusal to attend a 14-year-old German Shepherd-cross bitch, 'Cassie', at the home of owners Mr and Mrs McConnell, when he knew, or ought to have known, that the visit was necessary.

At this week's Application for Restoration hearing, Mr Baird was concerned that additional oral evidence had been used in evidence at the original hearing beyond that set out in the written witness statement of James Watson MRCVS, the veterinary surgeon who assisted the McConnells after Mr Baird had refused to attend. Mr Watson's evidence was that Mr Baird had responded to him saying "I can remember his very words. He said to me 'I am not going to do a visit. I don't give a stuff. If you want to go, you go." As Mr Baird was not present at the original Hearing, he believed that he was deprived of an opportunity to challenge this evidence.

The Committee, however, felt Mr Baird was not deprived of an opportunity to appear at the Hearing and, if he had sought legal advice at the time of the Hearing, he would have been aware that witnesses are asked to clarify or elaborate on aspects of their written witness statement. The Committee considered that Mr Watson had given a clear and compelling reason why the additional evidence was omitted from his statement (he said it was such an awful thing for a professional to say). The Committee also said Mr Baird could have challenged its decision at the Privy Council, but Mr Baird said that he had not read properly the letters sent to him by the RCVS and misunderstood the Appeal procedure. The Committee said that his misapprehension was self-induced.

Nevertheless, the Committee was impressed by Mr Baird's approach in his Application for Restoration. Amongst other things, he accepted that his failure to attend Cassie at the McConnell's home may have caused her undue suffering; realised he had had a moral and professional obligation to attend at the McConnell's home; was truly sorry that he had caused the McConnells so much distress; and, admitted that he may have brought the profession into disrepute. Commenting further in his application, Mr Baird said: "I seek restoration to the Register because, after an unblemished record of 29 years in a profession I love, and am proud to be a member of, I miss practising in it."

These comments were at odds, however, with the sentiments expressed in documents which Mr Baird produced during the course of the Hearing, containing correspondence which he had sent to the veterinary press following the original Hearing. The Committee therefore felt it necessary to question Mr Baird further to determine his real attitude to the original Findings and Sanction.

After questioning, the Committee was satisfied that Mr Baird did have a proper understanding of his obligations in relation to out-of-hours visits and the paramount importance of dealing with an animal's welfare in all situations. He accepted that he had acted inappropriately on the night in question and that the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct stated in clear terms the duties of a veterinary surgeon in such circumstances.

He also accepted that his performance fell far short of that which was to be expected of a competent and caring veterinary surgeon and regretted his refusal to attend at the McConnells' house to treat their distressed and dying dog.

The Committee drew attention to the obligation of all veterinary surgeons to be familiar with the contents of the Guide and the special report (see Notes) from the College on how to avoid becoming the subject of a complaint.

Disciplinary Committee Chairman, Mrs Alison Bruce, said: "We consider Mr Baird has shown a level of naivety in his approach to the original Hearing and to this Application for Restoration," but in recognition of Mr Baird's approach in his Application she added:

"We recognise his willing acceptance that he breached his clear duty to provide 24-hour cover for his patients and to attend on his patients personally where such personal attendance at the client's home was necessitated by the condition of the animal and its level of distress. It is the decision of the Committee that, in the light of the matters identified, it is appropriate to allow this Application. I will therefore order that Mr Baird's name be restored to the Register."


1.The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK and deals with issues of professional misconduct, maintaining the register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK and assuring standards of veterinary education.

2.RCVS disciplinary powers are exercised through the Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees, established in accordance with Schedule 2 to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (the 1966 Act). The RCVS has authority to deal with three types of case:

a)Fraudulent registration b)Criminal convictions c)Allegations of disgraceful professional conduct

3.The Disciplinary Committee is a constituted judicial tribunal under the 1966 Act and follows rules of evidence similar to those used in a court of law.

4.The burden of proving an allegation falls upon the RCVS, and the RCVS must prove to the standard that the Committee is sure.

5.A respondent veterinary surgeon may appeal a Disciplinary Committee decision to the Privy Council within 28 days of the date of the decision. If no appeal is received, the Committee's judgment takes effect after this period.

6.Further information, including the original charges against Mr Baird and the Committee's findings, can be found via

7.The special report that the Committee referred to is 'RCVS News Extra: don't become a complaints statistic (February 2008)'

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