MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A vet technician employed by Miami-Dade Animal Services was arrested Tuesday on accusations that he abused a puppy that growled at him.
According to his arrest report, Raudel Canizarez Perez, 54, of Miami, and another employee who witnessed the alleged abuse, were in charge of conducting medical assessments that were needed before placing dogs on the adoption floor.
Miami-Dade police said the witness placed a muzzle on a 3-month-old Great Dane mix that had just arrived and Perez then took charge of the dog.
Miami-Dade Animal Services told Local 10 News reporter that the dog arrived as a stray.
According to the arrest report, the puppy growled at Perez and the witness saw him grabbing the puppy by its throat, choking him, and then slamming the dog into the metal examination table before punching the puppy about four times near the mouth.
The employee who allegedly witnessed the attack immediately reported it to her supervisor.
Police said a veterinarian and forensics doctor for Miami-Dade Animal Services then evaluated the puppy and determined that it suffered blunt force trauma, which caused it to have seven dental fractures and bruising on its eyes.
Police officers later went to Perez’s apartment in Miami to question him.
They said he denied striking the puppy and claimed its injuries were self-sustained.
Perez was arrested on a charge of animal cruelty with intent to injure or kill.
“As soon as we learned of it, we took immediate action. The gentleman was removed from his post and the animal was put in a safe place,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
Local 10 News reporter Christina Vazquez attempted to speak with Perez Wednesday, but his son told her, “We are not going to talk about that.”
Miami-Dade Animal Services released the following statement regarding the incident:
“The well-being of the animals in the care of Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department is our main priority. The department assesses all allegations of animal abuse swiftly and seriously, and has a zero-tolerance policy for any such behavior.”
“Our staff contacted authorities immediately after learning of the incident and relieved the employee from duty. The puppy is under the care of a rescue partner, recovering until he is available for adoption. As this is an open investigation, the Department cannot comment on the specifics of this case.”
Police said Perez has been a county employee for 10 years.
Personnel files obtained by Local 10 News show Perez has a history of commendations and positive performance reviews along with a notation that he was working to improve upon a “combative personality.”
According to Miami-Dade Animal Services, Perez has never been disciplined in the past for mishandling or being aggressive with animals in his care.