A Florida man and woman were arrested on numerous charges, including felony cruelty to animals and fraud.
“It had all the characteristics found in rescue-hoarder situations, whereas a puppy mill is defined as “an establishment that breeds puppies for sale, typically on an intensive basis and in conditions regarded as inhumane,” said IRCSO.
After a search warrant was conducted at the home of Michael Mendez, 26, and Shelby White, 25, in Vero Beach, two dogs were found living in deplorable conditions, with signs of numerous dogs being held there over time at the residence.
“The home was full of animal waste, and the animals were living in inhumane conditions,” according to Ag/Marine Deputy Bobby Gage.
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Multiple victims have already come forward during the investigation, but it is believed there are many others, deputies say.
Mendez and White listed puppies for sale via roadside signs throughout the Treasure Coast and Space Coast. They also made “for sale” posts on Puppies.com and Craigslist.
After the sale, victims would soon learn their new puppy was either not full-bred as advertised, sick, and/or had its hair dyed a different color to match the breed listed for sale.
Mendez and White were arrested on numerous charges, including:
- Organized Scheme to Defraud
- Felony Animal Neglect (2 counts)
- Selling a Dog Less Than 8 Weeks Old (3 counts
- Selling a Dog Without a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (8 counts)
- Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device
- Felony Driving While License Suspended (Habitual Traffic Offender)
Their bonds were set at $185,000 and $91,000, respectively.
If you have purchased a puppy from either Mendez or White that was not as advertised, sick, or without a proper health certificate, please reach out to our Agricultural/Marine Unit as soon as possible at (772) 978-6240 and reference IRCSO case number 2022-81715.