Dog-napping vet, 29, steals £2,000 pedigree French Bulldog puppy after delivering six of them and taking one for herself
- Dr Zahra Rafiq, 29, was found to be ‘dishonest’ at a tribunal in London
- However, she will be able to return to work after just six months
- VetsNow emergency surgery chain, which has 60 branches, fired Rafiq
A Merseyside vet snatched the expensive breed after making a joke to colleagues that she would do so, only for her to be rumbled and suspended for six months.
Dr Zahra Rafiq, 29, was found to be ‘dishonest’ at a tribunal in London but will be able to return to work, to the bulldog owner’s dismay.
The stolen pup – worth up to £2000 – perished in Rafiq’s home, which she admitted three days after saying it faded in her car.
VetsNow emergency surgery chain, which has 60 branches, fired Rafiq but she will be able to continue practicing as a vet after the independent committee concluded Dr Rafiq was not motivated by financial gain and was ‘very unlikely to pose a risk to animals in future.’
Safinah Mhagrh was told there were only four live pups out of six when the vet did the C-section. Her son Joel, 9, is pictured with two of their French Bulldogs , including mother, Kyla
However, the company vowed that both Rafiq and the animal care assistant who took the second pup will never work for them again.
A spokesperson also said that the surgeon who worked alongside Rafiq and who failed to account for the amount of pups born, will also never be employed by them again.
Safinah Mhagrh, who was told there were only four live pups out of six when the vet did the C-section, told The Mirror of her disgust at the decision by the veterinary governing body to only suspend Rafiq, and not strike her off the register completely.
‘I’m fuming. That vet stole my puppy. It was a terrible, heartless thing to do. She should not be allowed to practise,’ she said.
Dr Zahra Rafiq pictured as a 21-year-old student in Liverpool in 2011
The problems started for Ms Mhagrh when she rushed her heavily pregnant French Bulldog, Lyla, to VetsNow in December 2017.
The mother revealed that she thought Lyla would die because one of the pups was coming out legs first, and she was told to go home as a surgeon performed a C-section with Rafiq assisting.
‘I was told there were four but the stuck one didn’t make it,’ Ms Mhagrh said.
A week after they were born, she was called back into the Huyton, Merseyside clinic to be told that an allegation had been made against two staff members.
She said: ‘They said one had been returned, but the other died after being taken home.’
She was then given the surviving pup that was allegedly taken and then returned by another staff member. against whom no further action was taken.
‘I burst out crying, I was heartbroken,’ she said. ‘You’re meant to trust a vet. I’m only glad there are some decent people at VetsNow who told me what happened. If they hadn’t I would never have known.’
Two of the French Bulldog pups that were born and brought home by Ms Mhagrh
Ms Mhagrh said she contacted police who opted not to pursue the case. A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons disciplinary hearing was told Dr Rafiq was overheard in surgery saying she intended to take one of the puppies – but that colleagues presumed she was joking.
The surgeon that she was assisting was also sacked by VetsNow because he failed to record the number of puppies, despite being said to have been focused on their health.
The surgery refunded the £200 Ms Mhagrh paid for the C-section as Dr Laura Playforth, standards head at VetsNow, said the incident was an ‘isolated’ one.
She said: ‘We are extremely sorry about what happened, especially to our client and their pets.
‘We are very clear on our position here – these two individuals will not work with us again.
‘I want to reassure pet owners that this is an isolated incident. We have almost 600 vets and vet nurses working for us up and down the country, working tirelessly to help animals in their greatest time of need. In my 20 years as a vet, I’ve never seen anything like this case.’