Nine puppies go up for adoption Wednesday after having been rescued by Irvine police after the arrest of a businesswoman who allegedly sold sick animals to unsuspecting customers.
Megan Ann Hoechstetter, who operated Pawlosophy, was taken into custody on felony and misdemeanor charges in January following an investigation by the Irvine Police Department that discovered 155 victims had received sick puppies.
The 42-year-old Cypress resident, who has previously used names Megan Ann Nunez and Megan Ann Choate, was charged Monday with 20 misdemeanor counts of keeping an animal without proper care and two misdemeanor counts of animal abuse by a caretaker that, if convicted, could land her in county jail for up to 12 years, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
Pawlosophy, which was falsely represented as an animal rescue, charged about $400 for each 8-week-old dog that had never received veterinary care, according to the OCDA.
"Between March 21, 2014, and March 1, 2017, Hoechstetter is accused of abusing and failing to care for over 100 puppies," reads prosecutors' arraignment statement. "The defendant is accused of knowing the dogs suffered from viral and parasitic infections including parvovirus, coccidia and giardia and failing to disclose the illnesses to dog purchasers."
About 30 puppies died or had to be euthanized soon after they were adopted, and most of them suffered from severe diarrhea, the OCDA alleges.
"On Jan. 1, 2017, a family adopted a puppy named Bailey from Hoechstetter," prosecutors add. "The dog was seriously ill with parvovirus, and died on Jan. 8, 2017. The owners reported the defendant to the Irvine Police Department (IPD), who investigated this case."
When police contacted Hoechstetter on Jan. 11, she had six puppies for sale out of her vehicle's trunk and a search of a Cypress hotel room later that day turned up another 13 sick puppies without proper accommodations, the OCDA claims.
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"Due to media coverage seeking additional victims," prosecutors add, "over 100 families who purchased puppies from the defendant that suffered from viruses and parasites came forward."
The puppies available for adoption Wednesday have been medically cleared by the Irvine Animal Care Center, and five more are expected to get the OK on Friday, according to an Irvine city release. In all, the city plans to put 19 puppies up for adoption. To view photos, go to cityofirvine.org/ipdpuppies.
All who wish to adopt must come to the Irvine Animal Care Center, 6443 Oak Canyon, on Wednesday from noon to 1:30 p.m. to fill out adoption paperwork. A lottery for each animal will be held at 2 p.m. Potential adopters must be present at the time of the lottery. "The public should keep in mind that these animals were very ill and lived through a traumatic experience," reads the city release. "Anyone wishing to adopt one of the puppies should have extra time to devote to their care and socialization. Being selected in the lottery is not a guarantee of placement; IACC staff will determine the suitability of potential adopters."
For more information about the adoption process, click on the link above or call Animal Care Center Supervisor Jim Warren at 949.724.7162.