N.S. vet agrees to give up licence, sell practice after mistakenly euthanizing dog


A Nova Scotia veterinarian is losing his licence to practise after mistakenly euthanizing a dog last August at his Port Hawkesbury, N.S., clinic.

The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association says Dr. Sietse Van Zwol will also have to sell his practice within 12 months.

Dr. Frank Richardson, registrar for the association, says that since the dog's death, Van Zwol has only been permitted to practise in the presence of two other vets and has been forbidden from euthanizing animals.

"Dr. Van Zwol has agreed to retire as of 5 p.m. today," Richardson said on Friday. "He undertakes not to apply for a licence to practise in Nova Scotia or any other jurisdiction."

He said Van Zwol agreed to the terms and has apologized to the dog's owner and fellow veterinarians.

Richardson said he thinks way the complaint was dealt with was reasonable and said Van Zwol "identified it as an accident." He noted that if Van Zwol had not agreed to the terms of the undertaking, the case would have gone to a formal tribunal.

"He has expressed sincere apologies to the family," Richardson said. "He asked the NSVMA to understand his honest error and apologized to the NSVMA and his veterinary colleagues who have been affected by this matter."

Van Zwol had previously seen his licence suspended for two months after a dog died under his care. A public summary of that complaint noted he had been reprimanded six times between 1992 and 2009. A summary of the current complaint is to be published next week, Richardson said.

A call to Van Zwol's Cape Breton clinic was not immediately returned.

Arlene Fougere, owner of the mistakenly euthanized dog, said she's satisfied with the decision, but she declined to comment further when reached by phone.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2021.