AKRON, Ohio - Trial is under way for a woman accused of portraying herself as a veterinarian, performing surgical procedures and issuing prescriptions without a license.
Summit County prosecutors accuse Brandi Tomko, 36, of operating the C&D Animal Hospital on Britain Road in Akron.
She faces a 13-count indictment that includes a misdemeanor charge of practice without a license and felony charges that include identity fraud, theft, forgery and assaulting or harassing an assistance dog. The trial is behing held without a jury.
Tomko has agreed to allow Summit County Common Pleas Judge Paul Gallagher decide the case.
In opening statements, Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Gregory Peacock said the clinic opened with the hope of providing low cost veterinary services and operating as an animal sanctuary where no animals would be killed.
Peacock said eventually veterinarians who worked at the clinic stopped working there and it was abandoned by it' owner leaving Tomko essentially in charge.
The prosecutor said customers continued bringing their animals to the clinic where Tomko, "Held herself out as a veterinarian or a veterinary assistant."
Peacock said animals were leaving, "maimed and dying"
"She (Tomko) is responsible for everything that happened to these animals," said Peacock.
"You will hear one common theme," he continued, "They came there to that clinic, entrusted their animals to her. Some of them died. Some of them lived."
"She was practicing medicine as a veterinarian without a license which is against the law. She not only hurt the animals, your honor, she hurt the people who took their animals there," concluded Peacock.
Defense Attorney John Greven opened his case asking Judge Gallagher to separate the emotion of losing a pet from the facts of the case.
"All dogs die," said Greven, "Thats the way it always is and when you hear from some of these people there is no way you can tie Brandi to any of these things," he concluded.
First on the witness stand was Connie Sky of Akron who testified that she bought a four-month-old black kitten from Tomko and paid to have it declawed.
Sky said when she went to the clinic to pick up her kitten she met with Tomko who was "covered in blood" admitting that it was from her kitten whose paw was bleeding.
"He was lifeless for three days," testified Sky.
"He was really lifeless for three days. I was afraid he was going to die," testified Sky.
Sky testified that she took the kitten to another animal hospital where she was told it was infected.
Defense Attorney John Greven showed Sky two documents, the first was a calendar that showed a veterinarian from Lighthouse Animal Services was scheduled to work at the clinic on the day her cat was scheduled to be declawed. The second was a document that showed the same veterinarian worked an 11-hour shift at the clinic on the same day.
Under cross examination, Sky could not say that she ever saw Tomko perform the procedure on her kitten.
Also on the witness stand Tuesday was Mike Stone, a Massillon firefighter who testified he entrusted Tomko to neuter and declaw a kitten he bought for his daughter.
Stone testified that he gave the cat to Brandi Tomko and that the animal was fine.
Stone said later that day he was told over the phone that everything went well and 'Tiger' would be able to be picked up.
He testified that the morning he expected to pick up the kitten, Tomko called and told him "Tiger did not make it" through the procedure.
Stone said he was never able to get an explanation.
He also testified that he never witnessed Tomko herself perform any procedure on his kitten.
Under cross examination, Greven asked Stone, "You don't know that Brandi did anything directly that lead to his (Tiger's) death?"
"Me personally, no," answered Stone.
Keep it to FOX 8 News and fox8.com for the latest on this trial.