8 On Your Side report on sick puppy sales sparks criminal investigation

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has confirmed it has launched a criminal investigation into the sick business of selling dying puppies on Craigslist.

Detectives are now interviewing people who unknowingly bought the animals from a Tampa Bay area couple. Investigators watched a series of 8 On Your Side reports exposing the couple and profiling those who lost money and a piece of their hearts. Detectives have already spoken with Chelsea Haller of Holiday.

“I want these people stopped,” she said.

Chelsea responded to an ad on Craigslist. She and Shawn Vogt claim they met up with Alberto Anaya and another man June 12.

“Seems like he was trying to avoid contact with us for the whole thing,” Chelsea said of their meeting.

Chelsea and Shawn paid $300, then brought home a supposed 8-week-old female puppy they named Nova.

“When we met her we kind of just fell in love with her immediately,” recalled Chelsea.

The law requires a state health certificate accompany the sale of a dog. The sellers provided a document claiming it was a record of the dog’s shots. Within a few days, Chelsea and Shawn noticed Nova was sleeping too much. They took her to their vet.

“When the tests came back, she said this dog is loaded with worms, round worms, hook worms totally loaded with worms,” added Chelsea.

CLICK HERE to see the sample of the puppy health form

Several viewers also told 8 On Your Side that Anaya and his girlfriend Hayley Lidey sold them sick puppies without health certificates. Cheryl Hostetler’s puppy, Bhodie, died in her lap, from parvo, days after she bought him.

“I just hope that these people are caught and they get prosecuted,” said Cheryl.

Sherry McCormic claims her puppy, Bella, became critically ill with parvo just days after purchasing her from Anaya and Lidey.

“I hope she rots in jail for what she did,” Sherry stated.  Bella survived.

Christopher and Shawn Tomaras bought their little Leo from Lidey and Anaya. A few days later, Leo died from parvo. Lidey was out on probation for an unrelated conviction when Christopher, Cheryl and Sherry say they bought their dogs from her.  She was jailed for violating her probation. At her hearing, her boyfriend Anaya relayed to me in the courtroom that I had it all wrong, that he was the one selling the dogs.

But four buyers who’ve called 8 On Your Side also identified Lidey. On Father’s Day morning, at about 3 o’clock, Chelsea and Shawn found Nova had died.

“I went out and I picked her up, and you know I put her in the box, I sat down on the couch and I cried,” Chelsea said.

The state plans to interview victims, get sworn affidavits and if the evidence is there, file charges for selling the animals without the required health certificates.

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