A district court judge has effectively ruled that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - or the vet in this case - as he upheld an appeal from a Donegal veterinary surgeon against a decision to deny him a certificate to practice.
The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) refused to give veterinary surgeon Lucian Podariu, Bunbeg Crossroads, Bunbeg the certificate to practice last year because he had inserted the word 'Beauty' in the title of his practice.
The title of the practice is Animal Beauty and Care Clinic, but the VCI said the term beauty could be equated with some unacceptable cosmetic surgery taking place in the practice to modify an animal's appearance, the court heard.
Mr Podiaru appealed the decision at Dungloe District Court against The Veterinary Council of Ireland, 53 Lansdowne Road, Dublin. His counsel Dean Regan said it was a case that centred on the definition of the word “beauty”.
Mr Regan said the VCI was suggesting that the word beauty meant trying to modify an animal’s appearance and was unethical. He said it was unreasonable to suggest that beauty was linked with some sort of mutilation of an animal.
Counsel for the VCI Hugh McDowell said that for the appeal to succeed it must be shown that the VCI erred in law or acted unreasonably.
President of the VCI Peadar O’Scannail told the court that “if ever a blade was taken to an animal to beautify it, that is a red line for the Veterinary Council”.
He said there were cases of dogs having their tails cut for cosmetic reasons and that was not allowed.
Mr O’Scannail said there was a danger that the public might draw an inference that something untoward was happening at the practice.
Judge Paul Kelly read from some veterinary practices which provided for dog grooming. Among the services were “nail clipping” “paint on highlights” and “anal gland expressing”.
The judge wondered what was the difference between dog-grooming and beauty?
At one stage the Oxford Dictionary was produced, and the definition of beauty read out in court.
Judge Paul Kelly said the veterinary premises should not contain any elements that are offensive to the public. He said this was the reason behind the VCI's concerns, a fear that the use of the word beauty might mislead the public into thinking something untoward was taking place.
“I don’t think that arises,” the judge said.
He said there was no basis for this and no basis for believing that cosmetic surgery would be carried out and he had no doubt that the VCI would be very quick to stop that happening.
The word beauty did not suggest that any illegal surgery was taking place.
The judge allowed the appeal and ordered that the VCI grant a certificate to practice to the Mr Podiaru.
But he did not award Mr Podiaru his costs as the matter might well have been settled had he engaged more fully with the VCI.