SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The owner-operator of three recently shuttered San Diego-area pet shops was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of more than two dozen conditions he allowed to exist at the businesses.
Johnson Tan Le of El Cajon was taken into custody Tuesday morning after appearing with an attorney at the downtown San Diego courthouse in response to an arrest warrant issued in his name June 8, according to the San Diego Humane Society.
Le, 28, was booked into downtown Central Jail and was being held on $50,000 bail.
The arrest stems from an SDHS investigation that resulted in raids of Le's stores and house on March 27, agency spokeswoman Kelli Herwehe said. During searches of those locations, investigators seized 117 animals, including 57 puppies, rabbits, birds, a 35-pound turtle and a 7-foot python, she said.
In addition to Le's Murray Drive home, where he bred dogs, the warrants were served at Nadine's Puppies, 1021 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside; Pet Place, 6512 El Cajon Blvd., Rolando; and Puppy Star, 6167 Balboa Ave., Clairemont.
All three shops closed for good following the raids, according to Randy Lawrence, law enforcement director for the humane society.
The investigation turned up numerous diseased animals, and one of them, a dove, was so ill it had to be euthanized, Lawrence said.
The rest of the animals survived and "must remain in the (humane) society's care until further court stipulation," according to Herwehe.
SDHS officials hope to eventually find "loving homes" for all the impounded pets, Lawrence said.
"We hope the animals will be signed over to us fairly quickly so that they can be available for adoption as soon as possible," he said.
Seriously neglected animals typically "need a lot of supportive medical and behavioral care," said Gary Weitzman, president and chief executive officer of the humane society.
"These animals have received exemplary care from our medical and behavioral staff and will continue to receive (it) until they are adopted," he said. "We are 100 percent committed to them."
A grassroots group calling itself the San Diego Animal Defense Team periodically protested conditions at Le's stores and filed complaints with the county, labeling the shops "puppy mills."
During this morning's court appearance, the suspect waived his right to arraignment within 72 hours, Lawrence said. Le's next court appearance was scheduled for July 31.
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