A Rhode Island man who says he couldn't afford veterinary care for his dog has been charged with illegally operating on the pet.

Alan MacQuattie recently removed a cyst from the leg of his 14-year-old Labrador mix. The dog was operated on again by professionals to deal with an infection from the first surgery.

E.J. Finocchio, a veterinarian and president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, calls the surgery a "heinous crime."

Court records show MacQuattie pleaded no contest last week to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine.

MacQuattie has not returned a call seeking comment Friday. But he tells WPRI-TV, which first reported on the surgery, that he didn't think there was anything cruel about what he had done.