Case # 17HM02716
Date: August 10, 2018
WOMAN SENTENCED TO FOUR MONTHS IN JAIL FOR ABUSING ANIMALS BY ILLEGALLY SELLING PUPPIES SUFFERING FROM VIRUSES AND PARASITESTHROUGH FAKE RESCUE ORGANIZATION
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A woman was sentenced to four months in county jail today for abusing animals by illegally selling puppies that were suffering from viruses and parasites through a fake rescue organization.
Megan Ann Hoechstetter, 43, Cypress
Pleaded guilty on March 23, 2018, to the following misdemeanor counts:
- (4) Keeping an animal without proper care and
- (2) Animal abuse by caretaker
- 120 days in county jail
- Three years of informal probation
- Must complete Benchmark Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum course
- Practicing veterinary medicine
- Buying or selling dogs
- Running, participating in, or working with any animal rescue group
- Participating in animal adoptions
- Acquiring additional pets
Circumstances of the Case
- 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 charged 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 abused and failed to care for over 100 puppies.
- 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.
- 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 had six puppies for sale in her vehicle’s trunk.
- Later that day, IPD searched a hotel room in Cypress where the defendant held 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 cared for the puppies that were rescued from Hoechstetter and made nine available for adoption.
Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone, Environmental Protection Unit