A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Feb 19, 2021

Sick Puppy Peddler Pleads In Superior Court Today

The world is full of people who prey on others for money. In this case, it was at the expense of the suffering of helpless puppies and heartbroken families left with nothing but veterinary bills and tears. Today justice was served, but this was just one person exploiting vulnerable puppies and those who would offer them homes and love. Please, let us not create a demand for these "sick puppy peddlers" by buying these dogs from the internet and social media.

If we don't create the demand - there will be no profits for the suppliers.

Following a 2 year investigation, Gustavo Gonzales (DOB 4/1/93),  who was charged with 73 felony and misdemeanor criminal counts, including, burglary, fraud, theft and animal cruelty, for selling sick puppies, pleaded no contest  to one count of Penal Code § 597.4 in Superior Court today (Case# BA478369). He was arrested on June 6, 2019, and has since been in custody.

Gonzalez advertised on social media and met potential buyers at public locations or at his home. To conceal his identity, Gonzalez used 15 different fictitious names and 40 different telephone numbers via apps and burner phones.

spcaLA investigators identified 93 families victimized by Gonzalez. Of the 99 puppies sold to unwitting customers, 57 died shortly after purchase. In total, 93 families paid Gonzalez $68,070 for puppies and spent $176,803 in veterinary bills to save the puppies, most to no avail.

In addition he to serving 623 days in custody, Gonzalez is sentenced to one year probation; one year of counseling for animal cruelty under Penal Code § 597(h); and is prohibited from owning or being around any animals for the next 10 years under Penal Code § 597.9. Gonzalez is subject to search and seizure conditions by Animal Control Officers or spcaLA Investigators, and is prohibited from engaging in any employment or business without proper licensing. He is also required to pay restitution to 63 of his victims as well as spcaLA for a total of $203,000. 

He is further ordered to stay away from all victims and witnesses in this case.

“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 Gasc√≥n said. “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.”

Thank you to, Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation and the Downey Police Department.

We must all collaborate to stop these cases from occurring. That means you too!

Adopt from a shelter!




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