Sanctioned vet must pay $110k

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
Port Hedland Vet Hospital's Dr Richard Knight with a rescued puppy.
Camera IconPort Hedland Vet Hospital's Dr Richard Knight with a rescued puppy. Credit: North West Telegraph

A Pilbara vet has been handed a non-practice period of three months and ordered to pay more than $100,000 in costs after being found guilty of unprofessional conduct recently.

Port Hedland Veterinary Hospital owner Richard Knight was handed the verdict by the State Administrative Tribunal earlier this month for allowing unregistered people to administer prescribed medications to animals and allowing an unqualified nurse to practise in the clinic.

The issues arose in relation to four separate employees between 2015 and 2017.

Dr Knight’s de facto partner Michelle Baker continued to work at the clinic, despite her authorisation as a trainee veterinary nurse having expired, which meant under WA laws she was not allowed to continue working in a nursing capacity.

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Dr Knight told the North West Telegraph his actions were unintentional. “The WA legislation is very complex and complicated and I had no idea it was a breach,” he said. “In all other States in Australia and in New Zealand it is quite legal for this to occur.

“No animal was and has ever been harmed at my practice, nor was anyone in any danger.

“I am only interested in the welfare of my patients. I love what I do and I am grateful for all the support and love I have received over the last few years from clients and family alike.”

Veterinarian Dr Richard Knight, Diva, and practice manager Michelle Knight.
Camera IconVeterinarian Dr Richard Knight, Diva, and practice manager Michelle Knight. Credit: Picture: Sophia Constantine, Sophia Constantine.

Dr Knight also said the three-month non-practice period would, in agreement with the Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of Western Australia, be served in stints of one month per year, for three years.

Ms Baker has since undertaken training and is now qualified as a veterinary nurse.

Dr Knight has previously appeared before the Veterinary Council of New Zealand charged with professional misconduct based on five separate allegations related to the death of a three-year-old pedigree chocolate point cat. After six years and three High Court cases, the charges were quashed.

At the time, Knight described the decision as the end of “six years of hell” and said he was “happy to have my good reputation as a professional upheld.”

The Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of WA 2019 annual report records seven complaints referred to the State Administrative Tribunal during the year alleging unprofessional conduct by a vet.

The report also highlighted there were just two prosecutions in the Magistrates court against unregistered persons performing acts of veterinary surgery.

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