The YouTube videos of the dogs for sale are disturbing: Young doberman pups fighting over a piece of raw meat in a bathtub. Mastiff and bulldog mixes caged and barking. A female pit bull with cropped ears, also in a bathtub.
“Nice little pretty bitch,” the man says of the pit bull. “Eat it, boy,” he says, egging on the doberman pups.
Monday, after almost a year of chasing reports of the man injecting substances into pregnant dogs, receiving a photo of him performing a C-section on a dog, and learning he sold dogs banned in Miami-Dade County, police arrested Lazaro Ruiz at his home in Homestead.
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The arrest didn’t come without a struggle. Police set up a fake purchase and made their way to Ruiz’s home, where they had to wrestle him to the ground and an officer injured his hand during the scrap.
Ruiz, 26, has been charged with resisting arrest with violence, battery on a police officer, animal cruelty, pretending to be a veterinarian and illegally selling animals.
“He was practicing medicine without a license. He was cutting open puppies,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alex Fornet.
By Tuesday night, Ruiz was out of jail after posting a $15,000 bond. As of Wednesday afternoon he had not obtained an attorney.
Though police saw the videos and received pictures, they didn’t have an inside track on Ruiz until a witness came forward last week with tales of purchasing pit bull puppies outside a Walmart in Florida City, and of watching Ruiz administer some type of drug into the back leg of a pregnant pit bull that was having trouble giving birth.
It is also believed he used scissors to crop the ears of several of his dogs.
Police said Ruiz does not have a veterinary license, and it has been illegal to own a pit bull in Miami-Dade for well over a decade. That witness, the arrest affidavit says, picked Ruiz out of six-person lineup.
Investigators from Miami-Dade Animal Services and Homestead police first got a look at Ruiz in July when they linked an address obtained from one of the videos to his girlfriend. An inspection of the property found three adult dogs in “grave distress,” in crates with no shade as the temperature inside the covering reached almost 120 degrees.
Ruiz, at the time, was barred from possessing pets.
Police caught a bigger break last week when the witness who bought the pit bull puppies outside Walmart came forward. Police set up a fake purchase on Monday, calling Ruiz and agreeing to meet his girlfriend at a Homestead fire station.
The woman then took police to Ruiz’s home at 1434 SW 24th Ct. When police entered the home and called out for Ruiz, he came toward them swinging his fists and swearing and yelling, “You can’t touch me,” according to the arrest report.
A struggle ensued, and police eventually got Ruiz under control, but not before an officer broke a finger and tore a tendon on his right hand.
The arrest of Ruiz was helped by markings on his body.
“I noticed that the tattoos matched those of a picture that was provided to me, showing the defendant cutting a female dog’s stomach, performing a C-section. The defendant was holding a scalpel in his left hand and his left arm was full of blood,” the arresting officer wrote in his report.
Ruiz’s troubles with the law date back to 2003, when he was charged with battery by Miami-Dade Schools Police, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show. He was charged with drug possession the same year. Neither of the charges stuck.
In 2004 he was arrested and cleared of an aggravated battery charge. Later that year he pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed weapon. More minor drug charges followed until 2006, when he was charged with grand theft by Hollywood police.
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Animal Services confiscated four dogs from Ruiz’s home, all American bulldog and terrier mixes. They will be put up for adoption when Ruiz’s case is resolved.
Animal Services Director Alex Muñoz called it a relief “that this individual’s reign of terror against innocent animals has come to an end.”