Wigan vet admits to "false information" in overcrowded kennels report

Natalie Oakes
Natalie Oakes

A former Wigan vet has been issued with a warning for “disgraceful conduct” after she signed an inspection form for an overcrowded greyhound kennels.

Natalie Oakes authorised documents, provided by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, saying there were 55 greyhounds at Rough Cottage, near Lowton, and conditions there were acceptable.

But a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) disciplinary hearing was told there were at least 80 dogs housed at the Winwick Lane kennels. And while the main centre was acceptable, an additional block there was described as “makeshift” and “inadequate”.

Miss Oakes, who was employed by Bickerstaffe-based Vet-Erin mobile outfit at the time, insists she was trying not to upset the owner while making efforts to rehome the greyhounds. But she admitted to signing the GBGB forms and a related dishonesty charge.

The panel was told that the case related to Louise and Rod Eccles, who ran the Rough Cottage Kennels. She left their matrimonial home at the start of August 2016.

Mr Eccles was said to be in a “volatile state”, during ongoing negotiations over whether a number of retired greyhounds should be rehomed, or dogs belonging to other people could be returned.

Miss Oakes is said to have first learned how many greyhounds were there on August 14, when she attended the kennels with Amanda Gething, of Northern Greyhound Rescue.

Two days later she returned with Lucille Cavadino, who represents a greyhound rescue association called Lancky Dogs, and conducted a full tour of the premises.

The following day Miss Oakes came back, which is when, amid continuing concerns over Mr Eccles’s state of mind, she signed an inspection form, confirming the number of greyhounds as 55 and verifying the condition of the kennels.

But the committee heard that when Peter Rosney, a GBGB stipendiary steward, visited five days later, Miss Oakes accepted the inspection form contained false information. Around 30 greyhounds were later rehomed.

Giving evidence, Miss Cavadino said she challenged Miss Oakes when it came to signing the inspection papers.

A RCVS committee spokesman said: “The respondent readily accepts that she should not have done what she did. The committee accepts the explanation that she signed the form because she hoped to keep Mr Eccles on-side and in the hope that he would not change his mind in relation to the removing and rehousing of dogs from the kennels.

“However the committee considers that the respondent was misguided in what she did.”

Miss Oakes was issued with a formal warning, requiring her to comply with the RCVS professional code of conduct in future, especially the provisions covering honesty and integrity, and “avoid conflicts of interest” in the future.