Bridgeport veterinarian charged with animal cruelty gets probation, loses license permanently
A Bridgeport veterinarian, accused of killing one dog and performing unnecessary, harmful surgery on another, will never practice again.
Dr. Amr Wasfi, 78, appeared in Bridgeport Superior Court Friday morning where Judge Peter McShane granted him accelerated rehabilitation, a pretrial program for first-time offenders. Wasfi will be on probation for two years, and if he stays out of trouble, will have the charges dropped. But the deal had one condition: Wasfi's veterinary license was permanently revoked.
“That was a goal of the advocacy groups and me since this started,” explained attorney Jonathan Levitan, who was appointed as the animal advocate on the case. “We’d heard about this doctor for years prior to this, and this cycle could not continue further.”
Wasfi, who opened Black Rock Animal Hospital in 1977, was charged with animal cruelty in December 2020 after police said he left a puppy on a heating pad overnight, causing it to overheat and die. It was his second animal cruelty arrest in as many years. He was first charged in May 2019 after police said he nearly killed another dog by performing excessive surgery for injuries that didn't exist.
That dog’s owner, Jose Valentin, was in the courtroom gallery for the hearing. His attorney objected on his behalf to Wasfi not getting a harsher punishment.
“He’s at a loss for words for what happened to his dog,” said attorney Robert Photos. “His question to the court is this: In a position of trust, in a position of care coupled by the old cliche, ‘an animal is a person’s best friend,’ how can the court grant AR?”
Attorney John Gulash, who represents Wasfi, called this “a pragmatic resolution.”
“Sometimes part of the penalty is the process itself. It’s been pending for quite a long time,” Gulash said. “ I think at this point my client certainly wants to move on with his life.”
While Judge McShane signed off on probation, he also ordered Wasfi pay $3,000 in restitution to one of the dog's owners.
Animal advocacy group Desmond’s Army has been at every one of Wasfi’s court hearings and had a representative there Friday as well. “I think it’s important to make an appearance to support the victims, to understand that animals need to be treated properly, that the rights of animals need to be considered,” said Desmond’s Army member Charlie Farfaglia.
“They can’t speak so we have to be able to speak for them,” added Levitan.