Exclusive: Nassau SPCA seize puppies from store accused of selling sick dogs

BALDWIN, Long Island (WABC) -- Members of the Nassau County County SPCA seized 11 puppies from a locked, unattended puppy store in Baldwin on Monday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne met exclusively with three people who recently purchased puppies from Puppy 4 You, only to have the dogs die a few weeks later.

"The most important thing for us is to get these puppies out, get them to a veterinarian," said Gary Rogers, with the Nassau County SPCA.

Rogers said Puppy 4 You is not licensed in Nassau County or with New York State. Officials were still unable to make contact with the store owner as of Tuesday, and Rogers said it appeared the dogs had been left inside alone for some time.

Astrid Lanza said she purchased a Maltipoo for $1,500 in cash from the store on Merrick Road on February 15.

"That night at home, she was coughing," Lanza said.

Lanza took the dog to Howard Beach Animal Clinic where the dog was diagnosed with pneumonia and was deemed "unfit for sale."

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Three weeks later, the dog died.

"I'm hurt," Lanza said. "I have a 7-year-old who's still crying over the puppy."

Lanza said she immediately contacted the owner of the store for a refund and for repayment of the $4,000 she paid in veterinary bills, which she said the owner was willing to cover.

"Once I send him the bill, I got an automatic text message saying the number was no longer in service," she said.

Kally Hirakis, of Bellrose, said her fiancé purchased a Golden Doodle puppy for $2,000 from the store on February 10. It was a surprise for her 30th birthday.

"He had a really bad cough," Hirakis said. "We took him to the vet the following day."

Laura Buscemi, with Garden City Veterinary Care, said the dog was underweight with multiple scabs present on his body and had an upper respiratory infection and was found "to be not fit for sale."

Hirakis said the dog was sent home with medication but began having seizures and had to be euthanized a few weeks later.

Hirakis has vet bills totaling $9,000. She said she has tried several times to reach the owner for a refund and for payment of the vet bills.

"They stopped answering our phone calls and text messages," Hirakis said.

Crystal Nunez said she also purchased a sick puppy from Puppy 4 You. She said the Maltipoo was fine that day, January 24, but two days later, it began throwing up and couldn't walk.

Nunez said the owner of the store told her to bring the dog back to him, which she did.

Nunez said for two weeks she called to check in on the dog, until she said the owner texted her and told her the dog had died.

Nunez's mother called police and told them she was going to the store to demand a refund. The owner ended up giving Nunez's mother $2,000 in cash to cover the cost of the puppy.

The owner of the store told Eyewitness News on Monday morning, via text message, he was interested in doing an interview about the allegations, but never responded further.

The Nassau SPCA says the seized dogs are in care of a veterinarian and that there does appear to be health issues with some of them.

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