A well-known former vet has admitted illegally collecting medications, but she did tell police she had them “just in case” there was an emergency with someone’s animals.
Janet Adrienne Spate was convicted and fined $1000 in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (9 November) over possessing the five substances.
She practised as a vet for 45 years before retiring and running a business that stocked veterinary supplies, although she was no longer registered as a vet.
Police began investigating her, then searched her business, Jan Spate Animal Supplies, in Hall in January 2023 and found the substances in her old surgery.
“The prescription medications are there just in case someone brings an animal in and it’s drastic and they need it straight away,” she told the officers, according to court documents.
“I have used these [prescription medications]. I’ve treated animals as recently as Christmas time 2022.
“Most of the other vets are shut at Christmas time and people haven’t got $2000 to spend [to take them to the emergency vet].”
Spate pleaded guilty to possessing a declared substance, while the remainder of her charges were dismissed after the prosecution offered no evidence for them.
The 78-year-old’s lawyer, Tim Sharman of Tim Sharman Solicitors, said she is loved and respected by many in the community.
He said she often dealt with people asking for advice on their animals’ medications and has helped administer them.
Mr Sharman said the substances seized by police had been left with her but should have been destroyed.
She now accepted if people came to her for assistance and left medications, then she needed to tell them to take them away.
Magistrate Glenn Theakston said Spate had a criminal history, having been convicted in 2018 for possessing a declared substance without certification and receiving a good behaviour order for pretending to be a registered vet surgeon.
References stated she had made a valuable contribution to her community for a long time.
“Even someone with a good reputation and a long history of doing appropriate things is not above the law,” the magistrate said.
Spate left the courtroom with several supporters.