Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Police have secured felony charges against a 36-year-old Crown Point man on allegations of animal neglect and mutilation.

The charges come a month after police seized 68 dogs, including 50 puppies, from Steve Rajcinoski's Center Township property.

Rajcinoski faces 11 counts of felony animal mutilation, 72 counts of animal neglect, 11 counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and one count of failing to register as a commercial breeder with the state, according to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Department. Police said Rajcinoski is not in custody as of Thursday afternoon.

Sheriff's police executed a search warrant May 3 in the 5900 block of West 125th Avenue in Center Township after receiving a complaint about someone hoarding animals. At the time, officers found 68 dogs as well as three goats, a miniature horse and a number of peacocks and chickens.

Police said they also found a bucket full of scalpels, medicine and evidence the man discarded carcasses at a garage where the dogs were found.

The owner reportedly did not have a license to breed animals and had medical equipment used to perform C-sections, police have said. 

At the time of the executed search warrant, the owner's name was being withheld pending formal charges. 

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said last month the man is "a very sick individual. He doesn't have a license that we could find to practice (veterinary medicine)," Buncich said. "And the conditions in which he practiced it were filthy conditions." 

The man may have been performing C-sections on animals because some of the breeds are known to have trouble delivering puppies, he said.

"He just wanted to make sure he could get the litter," Buncich said.

Tips led police to garage

Sheriff's police received information a year ago about the Center Township property, but an initial investigation didn't pan out, Buncich said last month.

Police returned to the property after receiving another tip several weeks ago about a person possibly hoarding animals there, he said.

The smell in the garage where the animals were kept was overwhelming, Buncich said. The animals were housed in cages, and there was little light and poor ventilation in the garage, he said.

"It was a very terrible situation," Buncich said.

Police spent more than seven hours at the property. A couple of dogs required immediate medical care, and the rest were taken to the Lake County Sheriff's Animal Adoption & Control Center in Crown Point, Buncich said.

5
7
1
9
46

Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.