Case # 17HM02716
Date: March 20, 2017
WOMAN CHARGED WITH ANIMAL ABUSE FOR ILLEGALLY SELLING PUPPIES SUFFERING FROM VIRUSES AND PARASITES THROUGH FAKE RESCUE ORGANIZATION
*Some rescued puppies are available for adoption from the Irvine Animal Care Center
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A woman was charged with animal abuse today for illegally selling puppies that were suffering from viruses and parasites through a fake rescue organization. Megan Ann Hoechstetter, 42, Cypress, is charged with 20 misdemeanor counts of keeping an animal without proper care and two misdemeanor counts of animal abuse by a caretaker. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in county jail. Hoechstetter is scheduled to be arraigned on April 28, 2017, in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
Hoechstetter, who has previously used names Megan Ann Nunez and Megan Ann Choate, ran a business called Pawlosophy, which she falsely represented as an animal rescue. The defendant is accused of charging approximately $400 for each 8-week-old dog. Hoechstetter is accused of advertising and selling the puppies without seeking veterinary care.
Between March 21, 2014, and March 1, 2017, Hoechstetter is accused of abusing and failing to care for over 100 puppies. 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. Approximately 30 puppies died or had to be euthanized soon after they were adopted, and most of them suffered from severe diarrhea.
On Jan. 1, 2017, a family adopted a puppy named Bailey from Hoechstetter. 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.
On Jan. 11, 2017, IPD contacted Hoechstetter and the defendant is accused of having six puppies for sale in her vehicle’s trunk. Later that day, IPD searched a hotel room in Cypress where the defendant is accused of holding 13 sick puppies without proper accommodations.
Due to media coverage seeking additional victims, over 100 families who purchased puppies from the defendant that suffered from viruses and parasites came forward.
The IPD Animal Services Unit and the Irvine Animal Care Center have cared for the puppies that were rescued from Hoechstetter and will make nine them available for adoption this week. For more information, please visit their website http://cityofirvine.org/ipdpuppies.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone of the Environmental Protection Unit is prosecuting this case.