A shocking discovery in Lathrop has resulted in the arrest of a man that authorities claim was operating a makeshift surgery center for animals without the proper license or training.
Pedro Maldonado Victorio, 40, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty, possession and transportation of a controlled substance, and practicing veterinary medicine without a license after a passerby noticed something that looked out of the ordinary at the East Louise Ave. residence.
According to investigators, a motorist slowed down on Jan. 25 when they saw several English bulldog puppies that had escaped from a nearby house. As the motorist determined which house the dogs belonged to, they saw two men come out of the house wearing medical gloves that appeared to be covered in blood and notified the authorities.
When police responded they discovered that Victorio’s kitchen had been converted in a makeshift surgery suite with medical and surgical supplies strewn about. Officers then executed search warrants at more residences in Manteca and Lathrop and discovered more evidence of illegal surgeries, $13,000 in cash, and 18 additional puppies – a mix of both English and French bulldogs.
The dogs were discovered in what appear to be overcrowded kennels, and the remains of deceased dogs were also found on site.
Victorio is currently being held in the San Joaquin County Jail on $15,000 bail – which was reduced during his first court appearance after a request from his attorney, Vittoria Bossi – on three felony charges. The charge of practicing veterinary medicine without a license is only a misdemeanor in the State of California. He is next due in court on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 8:30 a.m. in Department 8B of the Stockton branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.
According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation was a collaborative one between Lathrop Police Services, the Manteca Police Department, the Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the District Attorney, Manteca and Lathrop Animal Control.
Investigators are currently searching for any potential victims in the case and are asking anybody that may have purchased a dog from Victorio to contact either the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office at 209.468.4400 or the Manteca Police Department at 209.456.8100.
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