By Brian Maass

(CBS4) – Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, which inspects, regulates and licenses puppy rescue operations, has confirmed it is investigating the actions of a Texas woman, Linda Casey, who admits she brought an estimated 100 rescue puppies to Colorado in the last several months, selling them in various parks and other locations for as much as $600 without proper licensing and certification.

“I saw a problem and I tried to find a solution,” Casey told CBS4. “The owners (in Texas) are surrendering them knowing that I can find families in Colorado.”

Casey said the puppies would likely have been euthanized in Texas, but that she perceived there was a puppy shortage in Colorado, where they might be adopted.

She said she began bringing rescue puppies to Colorado to be “rehomed” several months ago and posted dozens of photos on her Facebook page of new owners embracing the puppies after they were purchased.

(credit: CBS)

She said she made three trips between Texas and Colorado with puppies in tow.

But some of those new owners now say the puppies they bought were sick and ailing and a CBS4 investigation found Casey lacked proper state and local authorization to sell rescue puppies. And while she told buyers she was running a nonprofit and a 501(c)(3), CBS4 found she had merely begun the application process, but had not been approved yet by any governmental entity.

“Its just really irresponsible,” said Aron Jones, executive director of MAMCO, a state-licensed Colorado Rescue organization for dogs. “We’re frustrated because we get written up and she is slinging pups all over town and there is no recourse. I’m sure she is in her heart trying to do the right thing but this isn’t the way to do it.”

Jones said her organization had been contacted by seven people who bought dogs from Casey but then the buyers said the puppies were sick. CBS4 spoke to two buyers who said the puppies they bought from Casey required immediate care from veterinarians, costing hundreds of dollars.

(credit: CBS)

Casey’s puppy sales in public parks up and down the Front Range went on for months before a woman confronted her in Denver’s Cranmer Park last week and began asking questions on camera. She told the woman she was selling the Texas puppies for $600 but the price was ‘negotiable’. She also stated on camera she was a non- profit and a 501(c)(3). Paperwork reviewed by CBS4 showed she had only applied for those designations, but they had not been granted. She also had no licensing from state authorities to act as a puppy rescue organization.

When the video of Casey and the puppies — many in cages in the back of her car — made its way to social media, a furor erupted. Some critics on social media accused Casey of “puppy flipping.” CBS4 contacted Casey April 22, and shared with her state regulations governing puppy sales and some of the permits needed. Casey continued selling the puppies in Front Range parks the next day. Aurora animal control officers ticketed her on April 23 for selling  in a city park without a license.

(credit: CBS)

Three days later, Casey agreed to an interview with CBS4 but was evasive when asked repeatedly if she had been selling puppies without proper licensing and registration.

“I want to do things the right way,” she said, declining to answer the question directly.

She later said “I have applications submitted.” When asked when she had submitted an application for state licensing as a puppy rescue, she said she had just done that hours before the interview.

“I was ignorant to a lot of what was needed,” she confessed. “I messed up. I’m trying to get better. I’m open to feedback.”

She said she had sold all 100 puppies she brought to Colorado in those three trips and said she would not sell any more until she had proper authorization.

Asked about charging $600 for a puppy, Casey said that helped cover transportation from Texas, flea and tick treatments, deworming and vaccinations.

Critics say one of the dangers to this kind of unlicensed puppy selling is the possibility of disease.

“The biggest problem is disease control and prevention,” said Jones.” All of these things are regulated to make sure we’re not spreading Texas disease throughout Colorado.”

One man who bought one of Casey’s puppies at a park event said “Poppy” immediately became sick with diarrhea and vomiting, necessitating a trip to a veterinarian for diagnoses and treatment.

Antona Duran, from Colorado Springs, said she connected with Casey through a social media site and bought two puppies. She said both have been sick. Marley, a male lab mix was diagnosed with hookworms and Riah, a female Akita mix, has a skin condition. Duran said veterinarian bills for the two are between $1,000 to $2,000.

“We love them but it’s not right what she is doing,” said Duran. “selling sick dogs to people. Definitely do not buy dogs from random people.”

Mary Peck, Director of Communications and Outreach for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said her agency opened an investigation into Casey’s unlicensed puppy sales in late February. She told CBS4, “Any person or firm physically coming in from another state in order to sell puppies directly to the public is required to register as a foreign business entity with the Colorado Secretary of State and be licensed by PACFA as a retail pet animal dealership. Upon application, a pre-license inspection is required and must be passed before a license is issued.”

By her own admission, Casey had not complied with those requirements.

“I transported them (puppies) to a place where I know they are treated like royalty,” said Casey. “Yes, I did that. I’m not rehoming any more puppies until my applications are processed by the State of Colorado, but I fully intend to continue to save lives.”

Brian Maass