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Tuesday, Mar 25, 2003County: Hampton City
Defendant/Suspect: Rene Lynn Schreiber
Last week, Hampton police obtained arrest warrants against Rene Lynn Schreiber, charging her with two counts of animal cruelty. The charges involve allegations the 37-year-old dog owner was practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
Schreiber left town before detectives had an opportunity to search her business and home for surgical instruments and medication that might have been used to crop the ears of two pit bull puppies, police said.
"She was in a cage and the floor was covered with blood. There was blood on her head. She kept shaking and crying," says Fort Monroe resident Jessica Holmes, who had purchsed a pit bull from Schreiber and had her handle the ear-cropping.
Authorities tracked Schreiber to Pinellas County, Fla., where she was arrested Sunday, said Hampton Police Cpl. Jimmie Wideman. Her arrest followed two complaints to local animal control about mistreated pit bulls in the back of a truck, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
Both Virginia charges are misdemeanors, punishable by as much as 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Had either dog died, the cruelty charge would be a felony, said Hampton Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Curtis. It was unknown Monday whether Schreiber planned to return voluntarily or would fight extradition to Virginia.
"We have the right to extradite for misdemeanors, but we rarely do because of the expense involved," Curtis said. "But I consider this case fairly serious."
Veterinarians in the area say they've been aware of medical complications with dogs treated by Schreiber for several years.
About 21/2 years ago, Dr. John Freed, president of the Greater Peninsula Veterinary Medical Association, reported Schreiber to the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine in Richmond. But there was little the board could do because Schreiber was not a veterinarian.
Dr. Gary Farwell, another local veterinarian, says he sent letters Feb. 9 to the Hampton mayor, city manager, commonwealth's attorney and several animal rights groups asking for an inquiry.
Detectives started investigating Schreiber on March 15.
They interviewed veterinarians who treated Daniel and Jessica Holmes' pit bull puppy, Sandy, and another pit bull pup for infection following ear-cropping surgery at Schreiber's store at 512 E. Mercury Blvd.
When the Holmes family bought Sandy, they said they trusted Schreiber.
"We were na´ve, but she said she had been doing this for 15 years and sounded like she knew what she was doing," Daniel Holmes said.
After picking up Sandy, Jessica Holmes drove the sickly pup to the Armistead Avenue Veterinary Hospital in Hampton. Farwell said the dog was in shock from a loss of blood.
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