Upstate veterinarian arrested after viral video says discipline - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate veterinarian arrested after viral video says discipline was appropriate

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Video of incident involving vet, dog (Source: Facebook) Video of incident involving vet, dog (Source: Facebook)
Robert McKee (Source: PCSO) Robert McKee (Source: PCSO)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

 The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office said an Upstate veterinarian who was seen in a viral video hitting a dog was arrested.

Deputies said Robert McKee is charged with ill treatment of an animal.

“During Memorial Day weekend, a short video clip was posted on social media that contained footage of Dr. Robert McKee striking a dog that was contained in a wire kennel,” Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said in a news release.

Hashe said the sheriff’s office’s Animal Enforcement Unit began investigating on Tuesday and later found the person who recorded the video.

That witness told deputies the incident in the footage happened on May 24 inside Foothills Animal Hospital located on Moorefield Memorial Highway in Liberty, where McKee practices.

“Interviews with the eye witness along with other individuals during the investigation have not uncovered any evidence that would indicate that the physical striking of the animal was in the course of any veterinary practice or pursuant to a medical procedure,” Hashe said.

Deputies found no evidence that McKee’s hitting the animal was “in defense or response to any aggressive or violent behavior exhibited by the dog,” Hashe said.

Hashe said deputies had not received any prior complaints about McKee.

McKee, 64, was released from jail on a $3,000 personal recognizance bond until his next court date.

McKee spoke to FOX Carolina by phone and said he was trying to prepare the dog, one he'd rescued as a stray, to be a house pet.

The veterinarian said he spent three days getting the dog out of a culvert and was caring for it at the clinic while he worked to find the animal a home.

The dog was being kept in the front of the clinic so it could get acclimated to people and McKee said the dog began having a fit when a customer entered. He said what he was doing in the video was disciplining the dog for barking unnecessarily.

“I used three fingers and hit it on the forehead sternly while saying no firmly," McKee said.

“I know there are many different opinions, but in my years of experience, this was appropriate,” he added.

Ultimately, McKee said he was trying to help a stray and find it a home, and said he was successful in doing so.

Deputies said the dog's owner has not seen any signs of injury.

South Carolina's Labor and Licensing Board said there have been no formal complaints made against McKee.

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