NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — A longtime pet groomer now faces felony charges of animal cruelty and practicing veterinary medicine without a license after an incident involving a client’s dog and puppies.
John Froais, 54, was charged with four counts of cruelty to animals, four counts of inadequate care of dogs, five counts of unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine, and one count each of obstructing a police officer and simple assault.
According to a Rhode Island Society of Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) investigator’s court affidavit, Froais had taken charge of Tula, a pregnant 6-year-old French Bulldog, for a client. The dog gave birth to nine puppies but five of them died, Froais told the client. Those remaining, he claimed, had giardia and coccidiosis, both of which cause diarrhea in dogs and can result in their deaths if untreated. Froais later told the client the four remaining puppies had died as well.
But at that point, Froais refused to return the puppies’ mother, the affidavit states.
The client contacted the RISPCA, whose investigator conferred with the state veterinarian at the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Froais’s North Smithfield pet spa, “Doggie Styles,” was under scrutiny by the DEM for other alleged violations after Froais told the state vet he was treating a cat himself for an eye injury, the RISPCA said.
The RISPCA officer pressed Froais several times to return the dog but he did not, claiming he’d have a North Providence animal hospital send the dog’s medical records to the agency. The animal hospital told the officer Froais was scheduled to bring the dog in on January 14. The officer later met Froais as he was leaving the building.
Froais bolted to his car, got in, and started looking in the center console for something, according to the affidavit. The officer then ordered Froais to get out of the vehicle and Froais shoved him backward, leading the officer to take him into an armlock and hold him.
The dog was turned over to the custody of the RISPCA. Froais was released pending further investigation, until he was arrested at his business on Wednesday.
A Kent County District Court judge ordered Froais to have no care, custody or control of any animals. He was released on $5,000 personal recognizance.