LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Downey man is set to be arraigned today in connection with more than 50 criminal charges stemming from the sale of 28 puppies -- most of which prosecutors say subsequently died.
Gustavo Gonzalez, 26, is charged with 28 felony counts of cruelty to an animal, along with one felony count each of first-degree residential burglary and grand theft. He also is charged with 22 misdemeanor counts of petty theft.
Gonzalez is accused of selling the puppies to 25 families throughout Southern California between February 2018 and April 2019, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The puppies, which were sold through the website craigslist, included a French bulldog, a chocolate lab and a beagle, according to Ricardo Santiago of the District Attorney's Office. Most of the puppies died after being sold, according to prosecutors.
Gonzalez, whose bail was set at $740,000, was taken into custody Thursday by Downey police, Santiago said. He could face up to 36 years behind bars if convicted as charged.
Fox11 had questioned Gonzalez at least four times over the past two years about selling sick puppies out of his car after advertising the animals on craigslist.
A woman who bought two dogs from Gonzalez -- both of which died -- told Fox11 that she “promised both of them that I would get him.”
“I told him I was gonna get him, and we got him, finally,” she said.
Fox11 reported that several dogs were found inside Gonzalez's home when he was arrested, some of them dead.
The station's probe eventually spurred the involvement of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, the District Attorney's Office's Bureau of Investigation and the Downey Police Department.
“Families expect years of joy and great memories when they purchase a puppy. The last thing they should expect is to see their companion suffer pain or early death,” Joseph M. Nicchitta, director of the county's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, said in a statement. “No business model should profit by exploiting unsuspecting families.”
Anyone who bought a dog from Gonzalez that had unexpected health issues or experienced premature death was asked to contact a Department of Consumer and Business Affairs consumer counselor by telephone at 800-593-8222 or by e-mail at infodcba.lacounty.gov.