A former veterinarian at a Canton animal hospital pleaded guilty to animal cruelty earlier this month and was forced to surrender his license, the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
Gregory Burbelo, 57, of Towson, was arrested Dec. 12 and charged with animal cruelty, aggravated animal cruelty and witness intimidation, after Baltimore Police received three instances of abuse at the Boston Street Animal Hospital. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 12 to one count of aggravated animal cruelty and inhibiting the testimony of a witness. At the same hearing, he received a five year suspended sentence, three years of probation, and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter.
“It is unconscionable to think that a licensed professional, sworn to provide medical attention to animals would attack them,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in a statement. “Animals have no way of defending themselves from these types of attacks. Fortunately, the employees at this animal hospital were a voice for the voiceless—capturing evidence and reporting these criminal acts— which resulted in the defendant being barred from owning new pets, interacting with animals, and practicing veterinary medicine.”
Prosecutors said there were three instances of abuse. During the first instance in early November, Burbelo used his hands to attack a dog at the hospital. The same day, he used a clipboard to attack another dog. In late October, police said he attacked a third dog while the animal was under his care at the hospital. Prosecutors said Burbelo threatened several employees if they reported the attacks.
Burbelo’s attorney, Gary H. Gerstenfield said Wednesday that his client had suffered several heart attacks causing him to become short-tempered.
“Greg is extremely remorseful and I believe his health contributed,” Gerstenfield said, adding that none of the dogs required any medical treatment as a result of the incidents.
He said Burbelo had built a successful practice, and was known for his care before his health changed his demeanor.
“He was so compassionate,” Gerstenfield said. He took his own cat, Sasha to Burbelo after she was diagnosed with cancer. Others veterinarians told him nothing could be done, but Gerstenfield said Burbelo removed the tumor and treated the cat. She lived to be 18, he said. Gerstenfield said that after Burbelo was charged, he heard from other pet owners who has similar stories of how Burbelo cared for their pets.
Burbelo no longer works at the facility. He is prohibited from acquiring new pets and required to undergo mental health and drug and alcohol screening and treatment as a result of the case.