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Additional charges lodged against operator of Elma pit bull care center

Erie County sheriff’s detectives have lodged a felony charge of unauthorized practice of a profession against the operator of an Elma pit bull care center, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said Wednesday.

Eric D. Gray, 43, of Bowen Road, Elma, has been charged with illegally acting in a veterinarian capacity and prescribing medicines to animals that were taken to his Smilin’ Pit Bull Rescue for care.

The charges are based on a continuing investigation of the operation of the business, the sheriff said.

Charged last month with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals under the state’s Agriculture and Markets criminal laws, Gray was arraigned on the new charges in Elma Town Court and released without bail, the sheriff said.

The 15-year-old pit bull operation was raided March 19 by agents of the SPCA service Erie County, and five allegedly ailing pit bull terriers were seized and taken to the SPCA’s Town of Tonawanda shelter for care and treatment.

“This case started when some local veterinarians and SPCA workers became suspicious about Mr. Gray dropping off maltreated and neglected pit bull canines at their offices,” Howard said.

“They notified authorities, and a subsequent investigation revealed Gray was acting in a veterinarian capacity and prescribing medicines without a license.”

A sixth pit bull was recently found at Gray’s house in what the sheriff described as “poor condition.”

With the sheriff’s investigation headed by Detective Christian Parisi, working with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and continuing, additional charges are possible, the sheriff said.