Man who sold near-death puppies to families ordered to pay more than $200,000 in restitution

Investigators remove evidence from a home in Downey.
Investigators remove evidence from a home in Downey after arresting a man Thursday on suspicion of animal cruelty.

A 27-year-old Downey man was ordered this week to pay more than $200,000 in restitution for selling sick puppies to Southern California families over the course of more than a year, officials said.

Gustavo Gonzalez pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor count of selling live animals on the street, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said in a news release.

He was ordered to pay restitution to 63 victims and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals L.A., totaling $203,000, according to the district attorney. He was also sentenced to 87 days in jail, put on probation for a year and “waived time credits for the nearly two years he has spent in jail.”


Gonzalez sold sick puppies to families across Southern California from February 2018 to April 2019, according to the district attorney’s office. He was arrested in June 2019.

He allegedly smuggled the puppies — which suffered a range of ailments like parvovirus, canine distemper, giardia, coccidia and roundworms — from Mexico and then advertised them online as healthy animals, according to a 2019 motion filed by prosecutors.

It is not clear specifically what breed of dogs Gonzalez was allegedly selling. The puppies — whose names include Coco, Joker, Chip, Dale, Chance and Lucky — were typically sold to families for $700 to $800, according to officials and a criminal complaint filed in the case.

Most of the puppies died after the buyers brought them home, prosecutors said.

“The pets that we bring into our homes become a beloved part of our family,” L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in the release. “Trying to sell sick puppies to unsuspecting people is just plain wrong.”

“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.”