Police say pets died in phony Ohio vet's care

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- A woman posed as a veterinarian at an animal clinic, treating dogs and cats for nearly two years, including some that apparently died in her care, police said.

Now, dozens of people suspect their pets may be victims too, with some saying the woman administered blood tests and ordered medication for their animals.

Investigators said Brandi Tomko, 35, was pretending to be a vet and taking cash for her work to support a drug habit. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of practicing without a license, injuring animals and animal cruelty, as well as drug charges.

A judge on Monday refused to lower her $100,000 bond despite objections from her attorney. "The allegations that they are saying happened ended about a year ago, and she didn't run away from it, she didn't leave town, she's been around the entire time," said attorney John Greven.

More charges are likely because investigators continue to receive tips, said Steven Null, an Akron police detective. Initially, police spoke with the owners of only a few animals, but "that's the tip of the iceberg," he said Monday.

Police suspect that Tomko treated dozens of animals from 2009 to 2011 after several veterinarians who had contracts with the C&D Animal Hospital quit because they weren't getting paid, leaving the clinic without any licensed vets, Null said.

"She threw on her white lab coat and pretended to be a vet," he said.

Kenny Reymann told The Akron Beacon Journal that he discovered that Tomko was not licensed to treat animals after his dog died. He said that a few days after one visit, Tomko called and said his dog needed to be hospitalized immediately. Reymann said she then charged almost $400 for treatment and that his dog died hours after he was released.

He also found out after his dog's death that a laboratory that was supposed to do blood tests never did so because the tests were not ordered.

Reymann said there was no way to determine there wasn't a licensed veterinarian at the clinic. "When you pull up to a sign that says 'animal hospital,' you expect it to be a hospital," he said.

The clinic closed almost a year ago.

Investigators say the conditions inside were unsanitary.