A Southern California man must pay more than $200,000 and spend 87 days in jail after allegedly selling dozens of sick puppies.
Gustavo Gonzalez, 27, pleaded no contest on Friday to one misdemeanor count of selling live animals on the street, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.
From Feb. 2018 to April 2019, Gonzalez allegedly sold dozens of sick puppies to families in Southern California. Most of the puppies died after the families brought them home, prosecutors said.
"The pets that we bring into our homes become a beloved part of our family. Trying to sell sick puppies to unsuspecting people is just plain wrong," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
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He continued: "That's why it's so important to use established animal shelters or pet adoption agencies so that we avoid becoming victims and also help end the market for unscrupulous illegal dog breeders."
Following his plea, Gonzalez was sentenced to 87 days in jail. He will also be on probation for one year and was ordered to pay $203,000 in restitution to the 63 victims and the SPCA Los Angeles, according to the D.A.'s office.
He must also undergo one year of animal cruelty counseling and is prohibited from owning or being around any animals for 10 years, the D.A.'s office said.
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In 2019, the SPCA Los Angeles seized ownership of six of Golden Retriever puppies that survived the scheme, the organization reported.
"This is the type of thing we encounter all the time," said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Los Angeles SPCA chapter, told the Los Angeles Times.
Families who are looking for a new pet should visit a shelter or a responsible breeder instead of hunting for a bargain puppy online that often ends up "not being a deal at all," she said, adding, "it's not good for the dogs or for your families for this practice to continue."
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