Petition supports veterinarian

By Phil Ambroziak

“He’s a good, ethical man.”

Those were the words of George Million, one of many area residents who recently signed a petition in support of veterinarian Dr. Ed LaBrash. LaBrash has been the subject of an ongoing disciplinary process undertaken by the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association (SVMA), details of which have yet to be made available to the public.

“An issue arose concerning Dr. LaBrash, which was taken before our professional conduct committee to see if there was any evidence of professional misconduct on his part,” explained Dr. Sandra Stephens, who currently serves as SVMA registrar. “The committee found there was (misconduct), so the matter was put forward to a disciplinary committee for a hearing.”

Stephens confirmed the hearing took place in September and LaBrash was informed of the committee’s decision in late October. She went on to note, however, an appeal period has resulted in the SVMA’s inability to publish particular details pertaining to the investigation until the end of January at the earliest.

“We’re in the midst of that appeal process right now, so I can’t comment further on that,” she said. “The important thing to keep in mind is – in a small community – there can be a lot of rumours that circulate. The bottom line is, groups such as the SVMA exist to ensure public protection and to determine what standards professionals such as veterinarians should be held to.”

The Veterinarians Act of Saskatchewan empowers the SVMA, which is composed of professionals in the veterinary field, to self-regulate veterinarians and the practice of veterinary medicine throughout the province. The association has bylaws written in support of the Veterinarians Act and all members are obligated to adhere to the Act and the bylaws.

While not necessarily applying to LaBrash’s situation, Stephens further explained how certain matters could lead to SVMA’s discipline committee fining members who are found guilty of professional misconduct (up to a maximum of $10,000), making the member pay all costs associated with the investigation or imposing certain conditions or restrictions on members.

“We want to make sure any wrongs are addressed,” she said. “We can even suspend a licence for a period of time, but it would be highly unusual for a member to have his or her licence removed permanently. As for Dr. LaBrash, no penalties have been issued at this time. This won’t happen until the matter is completely resolved.”

Continued support

In the meantime, people like George Million and other clients and friends continue to lend their support to LaBrash. According to information attached to the petition, which has been posted at LaBrash’s 1st Avenue East clinic as well as the Meadow Lake Stockyards, the petition calls for “the SVMA to deal with him (LaBrash) in a fair, open and equitable fashion.”

Million believes LaBrash has been the victim of a witch hunt.

“Professionally, I don’t believe he’s done anything any other vet has never done – this whole thing has just been a pile of crap,” Million remarked.

As to what Dr. LaBrash is alleged to have done or not done, Million said there have been rumours circulating, but would not comment any further. He simply expressed how he has been utilizing Dr. LaBrash’s veterinary services for his animals for many years, reiterating the respect he has for the local animal doctor.

Stephens, who is aware of the petition, reinforced her belief the SVMA has a well-defined process in place, adding the citizens of Saskatchewan have a right to submit whatever petition they want.

“That will be dealt with by the government,” she said. “It may be unfortunate, but it will play itself out. This (SVMA) isn’t a fly-by-night thing. These are never personal vendettas – action is taken because we have an onus to protect the public, as well as our own professionals.”

Dr. LaBrash was contacted, but was unable to provide a comment by press time.

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