#TheList Georgina Anne Bretman, born c. 1989, of Glebefield Road, Helensburgh G84 8SZ – injected her own dog with insulin causing the animal to suffer hypoglycaemia, collapse, convulsions and seizures.
Attention-seeking veterinary nurse Bretman injected black-and-white cocker spaniel, Florence, with a drug that made the animal collapse and suffer from convulsions and seizures.
The two-year-old pup required immediate veterinary treatment to avoid falling into a coma and dying.
Bretman was convicted of causing the animal unnecessary suffering by injecting her with insulin.
Although no explanation was offered as to why the vet nurse had harmed her pet, the court was told that she was an “attention-seeker”.
On one occasion her employer, A&E Vets, gave Bretman an evening off – then correctly predicted that, within a few hours, her dog would suddenly become ill and be brought back to the surgery requiring emergency treatment.
Sheriff Joan Kerr found Bretman guilty of a charge under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, of injecting Florence with insulin resulting in her requiring immediate treatment to “avoid coma or death”.
Florence returned to good health in the care of the Scottish SPCA.
Sheriff Kerr said: “Flo was vulnerable and completely dependant on you for her care.
“Your motivation to cause her this suffering may never be known, you have chosen not to shed any light on that when you spoke to a social worker.
“You have expressed no remorse for causing Flo such suffering.”
It was noted Bretman harmed her own pet in her leisure time, not any animals she worked with and was not banned from working with animals. She was later banned from practising as a veterinary nurse.
Her former employer, Lesley Herd, became suspicious after Florence was brought in for emergency treatment on several separate occasions – always suffering from the same mysterious symptoms.
During Bretman’s trial, Mrs Herd said: “The dog was fine between episodes so I really didn’t know what was going on with the dog at all, we couldn’t understand why she was having these episodes.”
Mrs Herd said that, on one occasion, she took blood samples from Florence to send to the Glasgow University Vet School for testing. Although Bretman volunteered to deliver the samples, they never arrived.
Mrs Herd said: “Initially she didn’t want any bloods taken to the vet school, then agreed it was really the only way forward if we were going to find out what was going on.
“She volunteered to take the blood to the vet school. Later I found out the blood had never arrived at the vet school.”
She told the court: “Because of the pattern of collapse and low blood glucose on each occasion and the fact that the dog was normal between episodes, I was suspicious insulin had been administered to the dog.”
She described Bretman as “quite attention seeking” and added: “I had said to my partner she will find an excuse to come in to the clinic because she’s not happy about having the night off and I said ‘I bet Flo collapses tonight’, and it did happen.”
Bretman was later suspended and sacked from her job.
Mrs Herd contacted the SSPCA because of her concerns.
In evidence Bretman denied the charge and said she wasn’t responsible and only ever wanted to find out what was wrong with Flo.
It was put to her during her evidence: “It might be suggested you took a dislike to the dog, that’s why you harmed her.”
Bretman said: “Not at all, I put a lot of energy in. She was my companion.”
Defence counsel Craig Findlater handed 18 pages of references to the sheriff for consideration before his client was sentenced.
He told the court she is now unemployed and has moved back to her family home.
Mr Finldater said: “She has grown up with animals around her. She is educated to degree level and gained employment within her chosen profession, that is caring for animals.”
Sentencing: community payback order of 140 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping dogs for two years (expires September 2019).
In May 2019, the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee struck Bretman off the register.
The committee found Bretman’s actions in deliberately administering a poisonous substance to Florence, thereby risking her death, to be “very serious and deplorable conduct on the part of a veterinary nurse, a member of a profession specifically entrusted to look after and care for animals”.
It also took into account the fact Florence needed urgent veterinary treatment to avoid death and that Bretman was in a position of trust over Florence as her owner.