Friday, 13 August 2010

Bill Sohan the kind-hearted animal healer

I had an early success in my sceptical letter writing career with Bill Sohan, a distance healer.

Of course, at that time, I didn't know about the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 which prohibits anyone besides vets (and a few related groups) from treating animals.

Perhaps Bill didn't know either, so in order to prevent him from potentially committing an offence, here's another ASA complaint about his latest advert.

"I write to complain about an advert appearing in "Nexus" magazine (August-September 2010, Vol 17 No 5, p76).

The advert, for Bill Sohan, promotes an animal healing service.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of four sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the adverts by post, if required.

1. The advert includes the text:

"SPIRITUAL HEALING. Humans / Animals. No fees..."

2. The advertised website[1] lists[2] the Bill Sohan's qualifications. It does not appear that he is a veterinarian.

3. According to The Royal College of Veterinary Science [3]:

"The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practise veterinary surgery. 'Veterinary surgery' is defined within the Act as encompassing the 'art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine' which includes the diagnosis of diseases and injuries in animals, tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes, advice based upon a diagnosis and surgical operations which may not necessarily form part of a treatment. These restrictions are in the interests of ensuring that animals are treated only by people qualified to do so."

4. (i) Under Section 4.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers have complied with their "primary responsibility for ensuring that their marketing communications are legal" in relation to their animal healing service.

(ii) Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

(iii) Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert exploits the "credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers" by not mentioning that, under the Act, only registered veterinarians can treat animals.

(iv) Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert is likely to mislead by omission of any mention of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the magazine. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.


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