An example of puppies, not the ones from the story. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
An example of puppies, not the ones from the story. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

A Seal Beach woman was charged Monday with setting up a bogus dog rescue organization that led to the deaths of at least 30 puppies and affected about 150 adoptive families, a prosecutor said.

Megan Ann Hoechstetter was charged with 24 misdemeanors involving animal abuse by a caretaker, according to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone.

The 30 dogs either succumbed to their illnesses or had to be euthanized, Malone said.

The defendant, who is scheduled to be arraigned April 28, is accused of “puppy flipping,” Malone said.

Hoechstetter allegedly was obtaining the puppies in Tijuana, Malone said. Adoptive families were paying about $450 for the puppies, but some ended up paying up to $7,500 in veterinary bills trying to save the dogs, Malone said.

Nine of the puppies who have been nursed back to health will be put up for adoption by Irvine police on Wednesday.

The nine were among 19 puppies in Hoechstetter’s possession at the time of her arrest, according to Kim Mohr of the Irvine Police Department.

Hoechstetter, 42, allegedly established a fake rescue organization online to sell dogs she may have gotten from Mexico and who did not receive proper care, Mohr said. One of the business names she operated under was “Pawlosophy,” Mohr said.

When police went to arrest the suspect at a hotel in Cypress, they found 13 puppies, which were taken to the city’s animal care center for “much needed care,” Mohr said.

The adoption will be handled like a lottery with those interested in taking the puppies home filling out paperwork from Irvine Animal Care Center, 6443 Oak Canyon, on Wednesday from noon to 1:30 p.m., Mohr said. At 2 p.m., the lottery will be held.

—City News Service

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