Follow Veterinary Practice News on Twitter at @vetpetnews.
Wilfredo Gutierrez, 26, of Houston, Texas, was working as an unlicensed veterinary technician (techs do not need licenses or veterinarian trade group certification in the state of Texas). As a means of obtaining a little extra cash, he posed as a traveling veterinarian, offering vaccinations, spay and neuter services and other procedures to his clients.
The only problem? He wasn’t a licensed veterinarian.
He was arrested on July 16, 2014, after which he pleaded guilty and served two days on an unlicensed practice charge. He is still in Harris county jail on a felony drug charge for possessing morphine – a substance he possibly used on the dogs and cats he treated.
Houston police were tipped off to Gutierrez’s activities when they received a call regarding a crippled dog that had not received proper veterinary care. Suzanne Hollifield, Senior Police Officer for Houston Police Department’s animal cruelty unit, visited the owner, who told her Gutierrez treated the dog’s broken leg with an elastic bandage.
An investigation ensued, and with the help of the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, an undercover operation was conducted.
The agencies told Gutierrez their dog had a skin rash.
Gutierrez told them that for $150 he would vaccinate the dog, write out prescriptions for oral medications and dip the dog. Providing a diagnosis and recommending treatment is what pushed Gutierrez over the line and he was subsequently arrested.
Following his arrest, Houston Police Department is asking for the community’s help in finding owners of the pets Gutierrez “treated.”
Even though Gutierrez claims that he loves animals and only wanted to help them, his falsification of his profession and unlicensed treatment of animals means numerous pets have been put at risk. Police say at least 50 received improper vaccinations, procedures and medications. They believe there are many other pet owners whose pets Gutierrez treated. They hope those victims step forward.
“If you believe that your pet has been treated by Wilfredo Gutierrez, then we really encourage you to take your animal to a licensed veterinarian,” Hollifield said during a press conference, according to Houston Chronicle.
Houston PD’s animal cruelty unit is also urging owners whose pets received treatment from Gutierrez or know anything about his unlicensed veterinary practice – which went under the names of Mobile Vet Vaccinations, DogSmart Veterinary Services and Wilfredo Gutierrez Pet Services – to contact them at 713-308-3100.