On Wednesday, the SPCA got a call from the owner of an 11-week-old Doberman Pinscher whose ears and tail were cropped by Damian Maldonado, who the agency believes is falsely representing himself as a licensed veterinarian.
Authorities are looking for Maldonado based on the accusations of animal cruelty and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
The Doberman is thought to be at least the fourth dog Maldonado has disfigured, SPCA for Monterey County spokeswoman Beth Brookhouser said.
Maldonado reportedly performed the surgery in the owner's living room on a plastic folding table.
Brookhouser said that he lodged sticks up to two inches deep into the puppy's ear canal and sutured the wounds with fishing line before wrapping tape directly over the exposed flesh.
The SPCA directed the owner to a licensed veterinarian in an effort to prevent infection.
Brookhouser said the veterinarians immediately noticed that the job was done by an amateur, as there was not enough cartilage left to support the ears and the tail was cut too close to the puppy's body.
"Times are tight and people are trying to cut costs wherever possible," Brookhouser said. "But cutting costs on veterinary bills is not what should be done. All of these owners are ending up paying more to deal with the infections."
Ear cropping, which the SPCA described as removing part of a dog's ears to make them stand erect, should be performed by a licensed vet when puppies are 9 to 12 weeks old.
"Ear cropping and tail docking is controversial but not illegal," Brookhouser said. "However, performing these surgeries in a non-sterile environment is illegal."
Maldonado is described as a Latino man, weighing roughly 200 pounds and standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall. His business card says that he operates "El Cartel Bully Kennels" and provides veterinary medical services.
Maldonado reportedly offers general consultations, vaccinations, de-worming, general surgeries, supplements, accessories, vitamins, artificial insemination, stud services and puppy sales, according to the SPCA.
SPCA officials are offering a $3,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of Maldonado.
Maldonado could be charged with violation of Drug Enforcement Administration regulations, practicing veterinary medicine without a license, and other violations for cruelty to animals, according to the SPCA.
The SPCA is looking for other possible victims, especially since a phone number listed on Maldonado's business card has a 209 area code, which encompasses 130 cities located in more than 15 counties.
Anyone with information about this case or who believes a pet is a victim is encouraged to contact the SPCA at (831) 373-2631.