Puppy seller dodges reporter confrontation

February 20, 2010 5:09:31 AM PST
There are major developments in an exclusive investigation we first told you about in December. You may remember a west Harris County couple selling dogs who eventually died a horrible death. Since then, we've heard from more people and learned the husband is no stranger to the law. In the last few weeks I've gotten more emails and phone calls from devastated puppy owners. We've also linked this couple to a pet shop in McAllen -- one the Texas Attorney General's consumer protection division went after and shut down. Last time I confronted the woman, she forgot how to speak English. This time she remembered -- even the choice words -- but he dodged us.

The number of dead puppies keeps growing. There were Basil and Ollie. Now there's Eva, Flower and Mogley. And they all have one thing in common -- who they came from.

Jesse Edgar Vazquez barely missed us as he sped off from his driveway in reverse. He barely missed a car, too.

His wife Lluvia Hernandez has been the face of their puppy business for months, showing their little Maltipoos -- perhaps by design. We've learned Jesus, who's known as Jesse, has a reason to hide from the public eye.

"We just want to make sure that the message gets out there not to buy these dogs," said a pet owner.

In December we talked to a mother who bought Basil from Lluvia in a transaction much like one on Highway 6 after seeing an ad on the Internet. Five weeks and thousands of vet bills later, the puppy was so badly infected with distemper...

"She was shaking and had twitches and was wobbling," the owner recalled.

They had no choice but to euthanize her. And when she called and texted Lluvia never responded. So we set up a meeting to ask a few questions.

We asked, "Do you guys breed them?"

"No, this is the first time," Lluvia said.

And when we went back to try to get some real answers, Lluvia claimed she didn't speak English.

"I know you speak English," we said. "I know you speak English because you spoke very well to one of our photographers whom you met a few weeks ago. I'm going to leave my card so when you decide you speak English, because I know you do, give me a call."

Instead we heard from others about more dead puppies, some out of state.

"We hoped the puppy would pull through, but he didn't and he died on Christmas morning," the owner said.

We also heard about Jesse's troubles in south Texas. After local news station KRGV conducted an undercover investigation of Jesse's pet shop, the Texas Attorney General sued him in 2006 claiming he was being deceptive, selling puppies he knew were sick. More than a dozen died. The AG won a $28,000 judgment that, years later, the office confirms is still unpaid. That order reads anyone associated with Jesse is prohibited from selling dogs until the judgment is paid and that includes Lluvia.

She said, "Move please."

We asked, "So you speak English now?"

Lluvia answers, "Yes, I do."

"Why did you tell me before you didn't speak English?" we asked.

"Because I didn't want to talk," she answered.

By this time, Jesse had already sped off. Lluvia left, too. Both eventually returned and retreated inside.

But we were there when Harris County Sheriff's deputies arrested Jesse for outstanding traffic warrants.

We wanted to know, "Do you want to say anything to people whose dogs have died?"

He gave us only a strange laugh. Devastated owners want more.

Since our original story aired, the Texas Attorney General's office has received four complaints against Lluvia Hernandez and the website Le Grande Pedigree. Despite the previous judgment against Jesse and his relationship to Lluvia, so far investigators there have taken no action.