AKRON, Ohio - A former co-worker said Brandi Tomko, 35, abused animals at a dog shelter in 2010. Police accuse Tomko of pretending to be a veterinarian at C&D Animal Hospital in Akron.
Tomko faces 33 felony and misdemeanor charges in Summit County.
"It was horrific. It was some of the worst cruelty I've ever seen and I didn't agree with it," said Melody about her time at the now defunct northeast Ohio animal shelter, who doesn't want her last name used in this story. "We had anywhere from really thin dogs to dog fights break out."
Melody said she asked her girlfriend, Jessica, to photograph the condition of the 40-60 dogs housed inside the shelter.
"It was like a doggie concentration camp," she said. "It smelled awful. The cages were rusty. The dogs were cramped in tiny cages and there was feces and urine everywhere," said Jessica.
Melody said she appealed to Tomko to increase funding for the dogs' care, but said Tomko ignored her requests. Melody suspected the convicted heroin addict was using drugs again. She said Tomko was acting strange and the shelter's money was disappearing so Melody eventually quit.
Melody and Jessica said they asked a local humane society and police department for help shutting down the shelter.
"I tried so hard for two years to get her shut down," explained Jessica. "Animals are property in the state of Ohio and there wasn't much they could do, even though I had hard evidence of animal cruelty."
Things changed when pet owners who took their animals to C&D Animal Hospital in Akron complained to authorities. Police said Tomko, who is not a trained veterinarian, was treating pets and is responsible for some animals' deaths. They said she misdiagnosed animals, wrote prescriptions that may have been harmful, and operated on animals.
Tomko's being held in Summit County jail on $100,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 30. Police said she may face additional charges.
Akron police detective Steve Null said 26 pet owners have called to complain about Tomko since NewsChannel5 broke the story about the allegations against her last week.
"I was blown away. I had never imagined she would take it that far," explained Melody.