HOUSTON A phony veterinarian may have left several Houston pets unprotected from diseases like rabies and distemper, according to Houston police.
Wilfredo Gutierrez, 26, is charged with unlawful practicing of medicine. Police say he preyed on more than 50 victims and they re hoping others will come forward.
They arrested him last week after conducting a sting.
Investigators say Gutierrez worked as a vet tech at an unidentified clinic, but did not have a license to practice veterinary medicine.
He started making house calls using business names such as DogSmart Veterinary Services, Wilfredo Gutierrez Pet Services and Mobile Vet Vaccinations, police said.
They really believed he was a veterinarian, said Officer Suzanne Hollifield. They said he had a lot of compassion for their animals and he seemed legitimate so they were surprised.
Gutierrez was giving vaccines, treating injuries and dispensing medications. He was also apparently spaying and neutering pets. Police say he would take the animals away for a few hours and return them with stitches.
He was charging a significantly less amount of money than a licensed vet and all the victims I ve talked to so far say that is the main reason they used him, Hollifield said.
No one has reported any problems with the animals treated by Gutierrez. But investigators believe the pets may not be protected from diseases because the vaccines and medicines he used might have been fake. They might have also been stolen from the clinic where he worked.
Police say Gutierrez had been treating pets for over a year mostly in northwest Houston.
Anyone whose pet was treated him Gutierrez is encouraged to contact the HPD Major Offenders Division Animal Cruelty Unit at 713-308-3100.
He advertised using the phone number of 832-748-2437.
Pet owner Sue Underwood said the allegations are hard to believe.
We have a grooming service that comes around the neighborhood, but I don t know about a vet, Underwood said. I would have to know them first, have a relationship with them in order to have my dog treated by anybody. I m not going to take them to some hoo hoo on the street.
Gutierrez has pleaded guilty to practicing without a veterinary license. He is also charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Gutierrez is being held on a $50,000 bond.