LATHROP (CBS13) – Authorities have raided the home and arrested a man suspected of running an illegal veterinary operation and doing unlicensed animal surgeries in Lathrop.
More than two dozen dogs were seized from Pedro Maldonado Victorio's home and other locations where investigators served search warrants. Some dogs were found dead.
Victorio is no veterinarian. He has never had a license to practice veterinary medicine. But a photo of his kitchen shows what San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputies describe as a make-shift surgery table where he operated on dogs.
According to the sheriff's office, a concerned citizen contacted them on Jan. 25 after seeing some English bulldog puppies running around loose along the 2000 block of E. Louise Avenue in Lathrop. It was clear from which home the puppies had escaped, the citizen said. Further, the citizen also saw two men leaving the home wearing what looked like bloody rubber gloves.
Authorities held a press conference on Friday and said deputies seized 30 dogs from Victorio's home and others, along with, surgical-related drugs, and $13,000 in cash. Victorio was already being investigated by Manteca Animal Services for allegedly performing animal surgeries without a license when the sheriff's department started their investigation.
Deputies say the dogs they rescued were found in overcrowded kennels; half of the dogs needed treatment from a real veterinarian. The San Joaquin District Attorney's complaint uses the words 'maimed, mutilated, tortured and wounded,' to describe how the animals Victorio worked on, were treated.
"I'm horrified that this happened," Boyer said. "The medications that this person used to anesthetize or try to anesthetize these animals have no pain relief in them whatsoever, and the animals would have had awareness of what is going on around them and would have felt everything that was done."
Victorio's attorney Victoria Bossi told CBS13 by text that he has a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine from Mexico. Bossi conceded Victorio does not have a license to practice in California.
"I would just ask that people refrain from jumping to conclusions until everything is heard," Bossi said.
The home where Victorio was allegedly performing the operations is in an industrial neighborhood. It is now red-tagged. A doggie-door and water bowls can be seen from the front yard.
Neighbors say they are shocked and horrified after learning what happened in the house.
"I don't know if in their mind they think they're helping them. But I can't even fathom," Vanessa Olivares said.
Another neighbor worried about the man accused of the crimes.
"If they're capable of doing that what else are they capable of?" Erik Sampero said.
Victorio declined a jailhouse interview request.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney said Victorio was arraigned on Thursday and charged with two counts of felony transportation of controlled substances, one felony count of animal cruelty, and one misdemeanor count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Victorio's bail was reduced to $15,000 and he is required to wear an ankle monitor. He is due back in court in February.
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