Alberta Scofflaw vet admits practicing without being registered

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An Alberta veterinarian described as “ungovernable” by the profession’s regulatory body has admitted to examining an animal and dispensing medication last summer despite having his registration canceled 21 months ago.

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The recognition is described in an affidavit filed in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench last week by Dr. Jeff Serfas, who operated the Forestburg Medical Clinic about 150 kilometers east of Red Deer.

The Alberta Medical Veterinary Association (ABVMA) is seeking an injunction against Serfas in an effort to force him to comply with several prior disciplinary decisions, including the cancellation of his registration in October 2020.

In his affidavit, Serfas admits he was unregistered when he sold antibiotics to an ABVMA investigator and performed a breeding assessment on a horse owned by a friend.

“I understand that…my actions above are in violation of the ABVMA order and that I should have declined when my friends asked me to help with their animals,” it read.

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“I understand this is a serious matter and that I should not practice veterinary medicine until my registration is cancelled.”

Serfas has been cited at least eight times since 1997, leading an ABVMA attorney to dub him the agency’s “most prolific offender.”

He wrote that he broke the order in order to help his friends and their animals.

“In each case, my actions were taken at the request of the animal’s owner and to provide the animal with much needed relief,” he wrote.

“I find it hard to refuse to help my friends when they are in need.”

Lawyers for Serfas and ABVMA are due back in court later this month.

Both parties’ claims have yet to be tested in court.

Private detective

Earlier ABVMA court documents show it hired a private investigator last summer to investigate allegations that Serfas was still operating on animals as well as prescribing and dispensing drugs.

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In his affidavit, the investigator claims to have seen Serfas take a dog from his home to his clinic and then appeared to describe post-surgery care to its owner.

In his own affidavit, Serfas claimed he cut the dog’s nails.

The same investigator was also able to purchase antibiotics from Serfas, paying in cash for a 20ml bottle as well as two syringes.

Serfas claims the investigator told him he found kittens that needed medication but was unwilling to spend the money to take them to a vet.

He said he provided her with medicine he left behind from his clinic, despite it having been closed since June 2020.

He goes on to deny three other allegations that he practiced while unregistered.

“Protection of the public”

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The ABVMA’s legal action follows repeated disciplinary action against Serfas.

In 2014, Serfas was reprimanded, fined $10,000 and suspended for 30 days following a series of complaints in 2012 and 2013.

According to the agreed statement of facts in the decision, he drank alcohol on the job, bullied clinic staff and clients, and on occasion intentionally harmed animals “due to his emotional volatility.”

In 2019, his registration was suspended for a year and his clinic was closed after an ABVMA tribunal found he had acted unprofessionally in 18 other cases.

A year later, he was ordered to pay up to $100,000 in fines and investigation costs after another disciplinary tribunal found he ignored the previous ruling and continued to operate on animals .

ABVMA Complaints Director Dr. Phil Buote says cases like this are rare and because Serfas is no longer an ABVMA member, legal action was the next option.

“Taking an action like this is extremely rare,” he said. “We don’t expect a lot of members to go down this route.”

“It really comes down to protecting the public and protecting animal health and welfare.”

[email protected]

Twitter @ByMatthewBlack

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