BARRINGTON, R.I. — A Rhode Island man who says he couldn't afford veterinary care for his dog has been charged with illegally operating on the pet.
Alan MacQuattie recently removed a cyst from the leg of his 14-year-old Labrador mix. The dog was operated on again by professionals to deal with an infection from the first surgery.
MacQuattie, 63, who says he is disabled and living on Social Security, said Friday he used local anesthetic to operate on the cyst and removed it on his own since he doesn't have money for a veterinarian.
"In the economy as it is right now, especially in Rhode Island, who in the hell is going to give you a little extra helping hand?" he said.
E.J. Finocchio, a veterinarian and president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, called the surgery a "heinous crime."
He said the procedure was medically unnecessary since the cyst was benign and did not appear to be hurting the dog, though MacQuattie said she was irritated by it.
"The dog was not suffering, the dog was not in pain," Finocchio said. "We know that from the nature of the cyst and the condition of the dog that we looked at."
Finocchio said the procedure would probably have cost less than $200, and that his organization could have helped foot the bill.
Court records show MacQuattie pleaded no contest last week to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine. He was also ordered to make restitution but was allowed to keep the dog. He said he doesn't believe he did anything wrong.
"My trying to help an animal, I don't believe it's animal cruelty," MacQuattie said.
The surgery was first reported by WPRI-TV.