On Friday, Ginger Turk, 46, formerly of El Dorado Hills, was sentenced to a year in county jail for her involvement with importing and selling puppies from South Korea.
Turk operated under multiple businesses names including Teacup Puppy Couture, La Chic Puppy Boutique and Beverly Hills Teacups. Turk also used multiple aliases.
The website for La Chic Puppy Boutique is actually still up. The address leads to a parking lot of Safeway and other businesses in El Dorado Hills.
Henry Brzezinski, the Chief of Animal Services for El Dorado County said that address was just a P.O. Box, warning against online purchases, phone orders, or wire transfers. Instead, he encourages adopting from a local government or a non-profit animal shelter.
In 2012, Turk was convicted in Sacramento County for felony forgery charges. She had sold a woman a sick puppy online, and the puppy died of Parvovirus a few days later. The veterinarian who supposedly signed the puppy's health documents said he had never seen that puppy before.
Investigation would prove that Turk forged the vet's signature.
That wouldn't be the only case. There were many other people who went through similar situations. Turk was sentenced to five years of probation.
Turk violated that probation in May of 2014. During a probation search, sheriff's deputies and animal services officers found puppies from South Korea, all under-age and in poor living conditions. Some of the puppies even lived in small plexiglass cages in a laundry room without proper ventilation. Officers noted that there was a strong smell of feces and urine. Turk was still illegally selling these puppies.
Brzezinski said Turk used a broker from a trading company in San Francisco to get the puppies in from South Korea. They're still investigating that company.
"She was selling puppies so underaged, putting photographs out there, that people thought they were teacup puppies," Brzezinski said. "She was shipping them under 8 weeks of age. People got these tiny puppies with all sorts of medical issues."
In addition to jail for a year, Turk will pay at least $6,500 in fines to the court and restitution for the El Dorado County investigation. She may be paying more for the Folsom investigation. Still, that's about how much she sold just one puppy for.
"To her these animals were a commodity. I don't think she felt like they were living, breathing creatures. That's the sad part of it," Brzezinski said. "She sold these puppies for $4,000-6,000 while only paying a couple hundred for shipping, buying. She made substantial money on the back of these animals."
Brzezinski added that although he understands some people may feel Turk deserves a harsher punishment such as a longer sentence, he feels this will still send a message.
"I'm realistic. I understand the court is backed up with cases, the jail is usually holding people," Brzezinski said.
Turk will have to report to the El Dorado County Jail on November 13.