A sick puppy of the human breed, who knowingly sold locals sick puppies of the canine breeds, pleaded guilty to animal abuse on Monday, which just so happened to be National Puppy Day.
Megan Ann Hoechstetter, whose charges we detailed a year ago this month, admitted that she used a fake rescue organization to sell dogs suffering from viruses and parasites and that were supplied by a puppy mill.
The 43-year-old Cypress resident, who has also gone by Megan Ann Nunez and Megan Ann Choate, copped to four misdemeanor counts of keeping an animal without proper care and two more of animal abuse by a caretaker.
That could see Hoechstetter spending four years in county jail, three more on informal probation and funds for restitution, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office (OCDA), which adds she could also be prohibited from practicing veterinary medicine; buying or selling dogs; running, participating in or working with any animal rescue group; participating in animal adoptions; or acquiring additional pets.
She will learn her fate at sentencing scheduled for June 15 in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
Hoechstetter ran a phony animal-rescue business called Pawlosophy, which charged about $400 for each 8-week-old dog. Between March 21, 2014, and March 1, 2017, she “abused and failed to care for over 100 puppies,” according to the OCDA. “The defendant knew the dogs suffered from viral and parasitic infections including parvovirus, coccidia, and giardia, and failed to disclose the illnesses to dog purchasers.”
Around 30 puppies died or had to be euthanized soon after they were adopted, and most of them suffered from severe diarrhea, say prosecutors. Among them were Bailey, who a family adopted from Hoechstetter on Jan. 1, 2017. Seriously ill with parvovirus, Bailey died seven days later. That prompted a call to the Irvine Police Department, whose officers contacted Hoechstetter on Jan. 11, 2017.
At the time, she had six puppies for sale in her vehicle’s trunk. A search of her hotel room in Cypress turned up 13 more sick puppies without proper accommodations. Media coverage of the case drew reports from 100 more families who purchased puppies from Hoechstetter that suffered from viruses and parasites.
Irvine animal care specialists took care of puppies rescued from Hoechstetter and made nine available for adoption.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.