Skowhegan police: Dozens of victims in illegal pet shop case

SKOWHEGAN (WGME) -- Police say dozens of victims are coming forward, days after a Skowhegan woman was accused of running an illegal pet shop and selling animals with fake records.

Skowhegan police said more than thirty people have called to file reports. Some of them tell CBS 13 they thought they were buying a healthy, vaccinated cat or dog only to get home and find out that wasn't the case.

Lola was listed on Craigslist as a seven-month old lab who'd been fixed and had all her shots, but needed a new home, said owner Patty Bachelder.

"She was so excited that we didn't really look her over that well," said Bachelder.

She paid a $200 re-homing fee, but within hours, knew something was wrong.

"She couldn't go to the bathroom and (was) very skinny," she said.

Bachelder said a veterinarian estimated Lola was as much as 20 pounds underweight, and not a puppy, but a six-year-old dog. Plus, the records she came with had been forged.

"They called up the Bangor vet and said, 'No vet that exists under that name,' and that was the second one that day they got," Bachelder said.

She said her vet reported it to the state animal welfare program.

With three other complaints, Skowhegan Police Detective Katelyn Nichols was brought in to help as they launched an investigation in January, and an undercover sting led them to Nicole Bizier, 32, who also sold pets under the names "Sara Landcaster" and "Sarah Plummer."

"We did serve her with a notice to comply, which told her she wasn't allowed to sell any more animals basically," said Nichols.

A month later, Nichols said officials got another complaint about Bizier, this time alleging she muzzled a dog for too long, causing extensive damage to its mouth. They also learned she was still selling animals.

"There were a few people who complained and said their animals actually passed away a few days after buying them from Nicole, and that was due to basically poor health," Nichols said.

When investigators searched Bizier's home on Friday, they found seven pit bull puppies and four adult dogs, which were taken to the Somerset Humane Society.

Police said Bizier was arrested and charged with theft by deception, cruelty to animals and illegal operation of a pet shop. She posted bail but could not be reached for comment.

Bachelder is relieved, and lucky for Lola, her tale has a happy ending.

"She's doin a lot better," Bachelder said.

Anyone who's bought an animal from Bizier is asked to call the Skowhegan Police Department