A woman under investigation for animal cruelty and operating an illegal pet shop may have been involved in "pet flipping," according to police in Skowhegan, Maine.
Nicole Bizier, 32, of Skowhegan, was arrested last week and charged with theft by deception, animal cruelty, and operating an illegal pet shop.
Skowhegan Police Detective Katelyn Nichols told the Morning Sentinel that it appears Bizier was involved in pet flipping, or receiving a free or stolen animal and selling it online for profit.
"There are pet flippers out there, but I didn't make nothing off of them," Bizier told necn. "I was doing it to help the animals."
Bizier admits to selling pets online, and even falsifying veterinary documents, but insists that people gave her the animals and that she took good care of them.
Skowhegan Police say they found 11 dogs in poor conditions, and received reports from customers that Bizier was selling unhealthy animals.
"I think the take away is that if you're unable to care for your pet, use your shelter as a resource," said Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland spokesperson Jeana Roth. "We're here to provide medical care and shelter for animals in need. Use your shelter. It's what we're here for."
Bizier said she didn't give the animals to a shelter because she has heard "horror stories" about shelters.
"Innocent until proven guilty — and I'm not guilty of animal abuse," she said. Bizier is expected to make a court appearance next month.