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LATHROP, Calif. (KTXL) — A Lathrop man is accused of performing illegal surgeries on puppies in his home, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

Suspicions about something nefarious inside sprang up recently when the sheriff’s office says someone saw puppies running loose on East Louise Avenue over the weekend. She called law enforcement when she tracked the puppies to a nearby home and watched two men leaving wearing bloody gloves.

Some of the dogs rescued from the home. (Photo by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office)

When authorities got inside, they say they found a makeshift surgical area in the kitchen where they believe dogs were being illegally operated on.

“When it comes to animals or any kind of life it’s just … it’s really cruel,” said Chris Velasquez, who works right next to the home. “That’s some evil stuff going on. You just never know where you’re going to be”

Police arrested the owner of the home, Pedro Maldonado Victorio, but the investigation was not over. The case also led police to another location in Manteca where Victorio was already being investigated by Animal Services for performing animal surgeries without a license, according to the sheriff’s office.

In total, 18 dogs were rescued and others were found dead. Pain drugs for surgeries were seized and $13,000 in cash was also discovered.

The dogs were taken to a local veterinarian.

A table that appears to have been turned into a makeshift operating table. (Photo by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office)

Situated in an industrial part of Lathrop, the location of the house seemed off to some.

“I thought it was just people minding their own business,” said Zach Woerner, who works next door. “It must have been a pretty hush-hush type of organization they had going over there.”

The San Joaquin County District Attorney reports Victorio was arraigned Thursday and pleaded not guilty to one felony count of animal cruelty, one misdemeanor count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and two felony counts of transportation of controlled substances. The DA explained the substances as being prescription drugs “used for anesthetic and pain purposes.”

He has been released from jail but the judge has ordered him to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. He’s due back in court in a few weeks.

The sheriff’s office is now seeking anyone who may have bought a dog from Victorio or had a pet he performed surgery on. Anyone with information should call the sheriff’s office at 209-468-4400 or the Manteca Police Department at 209-456-8100.