Vet Gary Samuel, 49, was banned for life after inspectors found 24 dogs and eight cats to starve in his cellar
A vet who allowed 24 dogs and eight cats to starve – including 12 husky dogs found in a squalid cellar at his home – has been banned from practicing for life.
Gary Samuel, 49, and his assistant and partner Rochelle McEwan, 28, were found guilty of neglect following a trial after the animals were found in a ‘shocking’ surgery.
The practice – which was also Samuel’s part-time home – smelled of ‘urine and faeces’.
Police found the dogs in cages in the makeshift dungeon after entering a trap door covered by a carpet at Gary Samuel’s Armley veterinary practice in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Eight cats also had to be rescued and not all survived.
One had to be put down on site and a dog was put to sleep the following day.
Banning Samuel from practicing for life, a disciplinary committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons heard how police found a ‘dirty towel with instruments on a table’.
The panel was told: ‘As they moved onwards, they found cages, two of them occupied by husky-type puppies.
‘They did not appear to have any water or bedding. An officer opened a chest freezer and discovered meat that appeared to be off.
‘In the main bedroom Dr Samuel was found.
Samuel operated from this surgery in Leeds, West Yorkshire before he was closed down
Police said they found meat which appeared to be ‘off’ in this chest freezer in the house
‘He was sitting on a bed, he had a laptop on his knees and he put his headphones on as a police officer approached him.’
Samuel then directed officers to the secret cellar, the trap door to which was covered by a carpet and a table – claiming the animals belonged to McEwan.
He told officers: ‘These are her animals.
‘She collects them – she never feeds them’.
During the pair’s trial in 2016, a court heard how at the time of the finding Samuel and McKewan were long-term partners and lived above the vet’s practice where they both worked.
On February 24, 2015 police were called out by McKewan who said Samuel was threatening her with a hammer.
His partner Rochelle McEwan, pictured, has been banned from keeping animals for life
However, police became more concerned for the welfare of the animals they found at the surgery in the Armley area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, when they first entered.
A police officer told the pair’s trial at Leeds Magistrates Court how of the ‘horrendous’ scene with smell of urine and faeces.
PC Claire Alison told the court: ‘The towels in the cages were dirty and blood stained.’
Twenty-four dogs were found in total – 16 found in cages in the cellar and most starving.
They had gone without natural night and had spent long periods in the basement ‘for several weeks’.
During Samuel and McEwan’s trial in 2016 a prosecutor told how they had a ‘volatile relationship’ and Samuel spent some of his time at Armley Veterinary Surgery and the rest at his other surgery in West London.
Prosecutor Paul Taylor said: ‘Rochelle McEwan’s case is that she asked Gary Samuel to treat the animals and is therefore not to blame if they suffered.
‘Gary Samuel’s case is that the animals were nothing to do with him – that he had ended the relationship and had told Rochelle McEwan to leave and take her animals with her.’
A total of 24 dogs were found in the surgery, many of them kept in cages, pictured
According to police, there was an overpowering stench in the cellar
Several of the dogs rescued from the surgery were found to be starving
During an earlier criminal trial, Samuel was handed a 12-week suspended sentence while is former partner McEwan was banned from keeping animals for life
The pair were found guilty of six offences against the animals, including causing unnecessary suffering and failing to provide a suitable environment or veterinary care.
Samuel was handed a suspended 12-week term while McKewan was banned from keeping animals for life.
After Samuel’s disciplinary hearing, the panel said: ‘While it was Dr Samuel who notified the police of the animals in the basement of his premises, having done nothing for them himself he did not do so in their interests but in his own interest in getting his partner or former partner into trouble.
‘Dr Samuel maintained throughout the criminal proceedings that he had no responsibility for the animals on his premises.
‘That is an extraordinary position for a veterinary surgeon to take.
During the criminal proceedings, Samuel claimed the animals were McEwan’s responsibility
A disciplinary committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons found that Samuel had fallen far below the standards applicable to a vet by allowing animals to suffer
‘The committee was satisfied that the behaviour found proved in this case was serious – there were animals found starving in a cellar without water.
‘Although it accepted that the offending arose out of a domestic arrangement the committee was concerned that Dr Samuel maintained that he lacked any responsibility for the offending and that he had allowed animals to suffer when they lived under the roof of his veterinary practice and home.’
Speaking after Samuel was sentenced in 2016, RSPCA inspector Nikki Cheetham said: ‘Dogs and cats were in a back room, the vet’s living quarters and a basement, accessed by a trapdoor in the floor that had been hidden by a piece of carpet – that’s where most of the dogs were found.
‘They were in cages covered in faeces, with no access to food or water, in the pitch black – it was like a dungeon.’
Many of the animals were later rehomed.
The committee heard the cages were covered in faeces and animals did not have access to food or water. RSPCA inspector Nikki Cheetham described conditions as dungeon-like
Samuel, right, blamed McEwan, left, for the condition of the animals in the cellar