Taken from The Republican American Wednesday February 10, 2016, By: Brigitte Ruthman
Adoption fees paid but no dogs delivered.
Litchfield – Suzanne Bristol of Torrington claimed she was rescuing dogs from animal shelters for potential owners touched by their plight and willing to pay to give them a better life. Police, however, allege Bristol preyed o emotions with her online business, Just for Labs Rescue, and kept money she required up front for pets she never provided.
Bristol, 49, of 60 Berry Street, Torrington, was allowed to go free following her arraignment Tuesday in Bantam Superior Court, but Judge Paul Matasavage ordered her not to sell any pets on the Internet while third-degree larceny charges are pending against her.
She was arrested by Torrington police on Monday night and held overnight on $1,000 cash bond.
Police say they launched an investigation after receiving five complaints fro people in Connecticut and Massachusetts. A “Stop Suzanne Bristol” Facebook page, started by other alleged victims, had 195 members as of Tuesday. Many shared stories like the ones heard by Torrington police.
“The 49-year old Bristol lured individuals into believing that if they paid a dog-adopt fee via PayPal, Western Union or other forms of payment, they would gain a dog, “according to court documents. “The initial transaction was done via computer. The initial adoption fee was said to cover transportation and a complete health check from a vet.”
Dogs and puppies were advertised on an Adopt a Pet website and Bristol’s Facebook page. The typical fee was $300 to $500, police said. When the dog wasn’t delivered and the buyer raised questions, Bristol, ignored questions, asked for more money for transportation or claimed to have been the victim of a scam herself, police allege.
In some cases, she left a dog behind at a shelter to be euthanized rather than adopt it, police said.
In another instance, Bristol told a would-be-pet owner she suffered a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized, police said.
A Massachusetts man told police he contacted Bristol regarding an English bull-dog. She told him the dog was in Colorado and would be transported on November 5. After sending $435, the man said he didn’t hear from Bristol. Finally, he said she told him she did not have the dog or his refund. Bristol told him she was scammed by the company that was supposed to provide her with the dog.
That same month, a Massachusetts woman told police that she forwarded $300 for a Yorkshire terrier puppy that Bristol claimed was in Florida. The puppy never arrived.
State Department of Agriculture Animal Control Officer Richard Gegan told police he had dealt with Bristol on several occasions, and she had an importer dog license in 2014 that was not renewed because of complaints against her Berry Street business, police said.
“Bristol had several dogs transported up from the South and had them living in deplorable conditions in her home,” police said. “There were dog feces and urine on the floor from dogs allowed to roam in the home, while others were kept two in a crate and with lack of water supply.”
When she applied for another animal license importer permit, she used her maiden name, police said. That permit expired on December 31, 2015.
“Bristol took deposits for puppies but never provided the owners with the dogs,” police said. “Some were left behind at a shelter down South because the transportation fee was not paid for, since Bristol kept the money.”
Bristol’s criminal history includes breach of peace and operating under the influence. She also has a case of sixth-degree larceny pending in Newtown, where she is accused of keeping another would-be dog owner’s payment, Newtown police said.