A Central Islip woman who adopted a shelter dog to sell for profit was arraigned Friday on charges of filing false paperwork and lying to local animal shelters, said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Lisette Tobon, 23, tried twice to adopt shelter animals after getting a Pekingese from the North Hempstead animal shelter, then selling the dog days later, authorities said.
Tobon, who was represented by Legal Aid in court, could not be reached Friday night.
Prosecutors said she went to the town's Port Washington shelter Nov. 19 to see Willow, an 8-year-old Pekingese, and took the dog home that day after filling out paperwork, prosecutors said. Tobon told shelter officials that she was going to be married and "did not have to work, was looking for a buddy, and would be able to take care of and love Willow all day long," according to the court papers.
The adoption contract states the dog cannot be sold without the shelter's consent and post-adoption home checks must be allowed, Rice's office said.
Within days, however, a woman found a Craigslist ad about a puppy for sale. It was Willow, prosecutors said.
Tobon met the buyer at the Islandia Shopping Center and sold Willow for $200, authorities said.
Tobon also handed over North Hempstead animal shelter papers with the dog's vaccination information, Rice's office said.
Shelter workers discovered they had been deceived by Tobon when the new owner went to the shelter with questions about the vaccinations and they recognized the Pekingese, authorities said. Tobin had given the workers a fake phone number and the address of her former home in Rocky Point, prosecutors said.
Shelter officials contacted Rice's office at that time and again after Tobon returned Dec. 21 to try to adopt "Knuckles," a Husky, as a playmate for Willow, Rice said.
Tobon told shelter workers Willow was still her pet, that he was in good condition and slept on her bed, prosecutors said.
But after shelter workers confronted her about the Craigslist sale of Willow, Tobon left, authorities said. North Hempstead town spokesmen could not be reached Friday night.
"Animal shelters are a taxpayer-funded service established to safeguard the animals under their care, and not a free pet store for people to make a profit," Rice said. "These animals deserve to be adopted by people who will love and take care of them -- not exploit them to make an easy buck."
Tobon tried to adopt from Babylon's town shelter on Feb. 10, giving the same false address and phone number, and was denied, prosecutors said. It was her second attempt to adopt there, court papers said.
She was charged with two counts of felony first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and second-degree scheme to defraud, a misdemeanor. She was released with certain conditions and ordered to appear back in court Tuesday.
According to the complaint filed against her, Tobon told investigators that she had made similar online sales of about 75 to 100 dogs.
Investigators plan to contact other shelters to determine if Tobon also tried to adopt animals from them.