A Lancaster County dog breeder was charged with two counts of animal cruelty on Wednesday for removing an eye defect from a puppy with a heated kitchen knife without anesthesia, according to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The SPCA said it and Lancaster County detectives arrested Ray H. Martin of Earl Township earlier this week in the New Holland area and charged him with one felony count of intentionally or knowingly torturing an animal and one misdemeanor count of failing to provide veterinary care to an animal at imminent risk of serious bodily injury.
Martin was taken into custody Wednesday, according to Lancaster County officials. He remains free on bail.
According to the charges filed with District Judge Jonathan Heisse in New Holland:
A complaint was filed July 3 by a veterinarian treating an English bulldog puppy for an eye problem.
During an examination, the veterinarian discovered the puppy was missing part of its eye anatomy.
Humane law enforcement officers with the SPCA confirmed that the bulldog's breeder, Ray Martin, had discovered the puppy had developed a condition called cherry eye — an inflamed or prolapsed gland of the third eyelid. The SPCA and arrest warrant stated Martin admitted to removing the cherry eye himself.
The third eyelid of a dog, also called a nictitating membrane, serves as an additional protective layer for the eyeball and contains a tear-producing gland, according to VCA Hospitals.
If the condition is not surgically corrected, the dog can suffer from a lifelong condition known as dry eye and develop infections.
"It was further uncovered that his wife had held the English bulldog puppy in question on the kitchen table while he heated up a knife (before the offense)," the PSPCA said a statement Wednesday. "All of this was done without any anesthesia or pain medication."
According to the arrest warrant, Martin said he performed the procedure due to the inconvenience of taking the puppy to the vet.
"Cherry eye is a common term to describe a prolapse, or outpouching, of a gland that lives within a dog’s third eyelid," explained Dr. Jason Banning, shelter veterinarian at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, in an email. "The standard of care for cherry eye treatment is replacement of the gland, as the gland is responsible for 30% to 40% of the tear production of the eye, and removal can lead to lack of tear production causing dry eye disease.
"While occasionally the gland can cause irritation to the eye, it most often does not cause any issues when left untreated. When surgery is elected, due to the proximity to the eye itself, an extreme level of precision, along with a fully anesthetized, motionless patient, is absolutely required to ensure that no accidental damage occurs."
No surgical records or veterinary records for the condition were provided to the purchaser of the puppy.
"This case of animal cruelty is especially horrific," said Nicole Wilson, director of humane law enforcement and shelter operations at the SPCA. "The offender in this case took this innocent puppy's medical care into his own hands.
"As the puppy ages, the eye will likely need lifelong ongoing medical treatment just to maintain the basic health of the eye. These charges are not only about finding justice for this puppy but also to ensure this never happens again.”
Martin does not hold a state dog kennel license, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's kennel inspections search database. The SPCA said no animals were seized from the Martin property.
Anyone with information on animal cruelty is urged to call the SPCA's Cruelty Hotline at 866-601-SPCA (7722). Tips can be left anonymously.