A Calvert County man was arrested Tuesday night and charged with animal cruelty and practicing veterinary medicine without a license in connection with his animal rehabilitation center.
Ronald Gene Wexler, 68, of Lusby, is scheduled to appear at an Aug. 8 court hearing on 16 criminal counts filed after a year-long investigation of his facility, Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center Inc.
Wexler goes by the nickname “Doc,” and refers to himself as a veterinarian on his web site. He does not have a veterinary license.
Acting on a tip, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers, state wildlife veterinarians and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service searched his center last August and found animals that should have been euthanized due to the extent of their injuries, animals on which Wexler had performed surgery and an osprey held in a cage much too small, which led to muscle atrophy.
Police also found drugs, including Oxycodone, Demerol, Pentobarbital and Fentanyl. Wexler did not have any licenses or prescriptions for the drugs, which are defined by the federal government as drugs with a high potential for abuse.
According to charging documents, he performed surgery on ospreys and a black rat snake and admitted operating on other animals, as well. Wexler told officers it was not cost effective to send every animal he admitted to his center to an independent veterinarian.
Each of the 12 drug charges carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a fine of $25,000. Each animal cruelty charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Practicing veterinary medicine without a license has a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine.