SKOWHEGAN — A 32-year-old woman was arrested Friday after a months-long investigation revealed she sold puppies and dogs with false records and mistreated the animals at her home, according to authorities.
Skowhegan police arrested Nicole Bizier, of Skowhegan, after working with the state’s Animal Welfare Program run by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, on an investigation spurred by complaints from people who allegedly purchased dogs and puppies from Bizier, according to a press release from the Skowhegan Police Department. The investigation culminated in a search warrant that allegedly found 11 dogs living in poor conditions at her residence.
Bizier was charged with theft by deception, a Class C felony; cruelty to animals, a Class D misdemeanor; and illegal operation of a pet shop, a civil violation.
The investigation into Bizier’s activities began in January, the release says, when agents from the state program received four complaints from people who said they bought dogs and puppies only to learn they were not properly vaccinated. After examining the veterinary records that Bizier allegedly provided to the victims, state agents determined they were fake.
The agents arranged a meeting to purchase a dog from her in Skowhegan on Feb. 2 after finding an advertisement allegedly placed by Bizier, who also used the aliases Sarah Landcaster and Sara Plummer. Skowhegan police assisted the agents with the meeting, helping them identify Bizier, according to the release.
In February Bizier was charged with tampering with public records or information, a Class D misdemeanor, and falsifying private records, a Class E misdemeanor. She was told to immediately stop selling dogs, puppies, cats and kittens.
In March, the state agents received a complaint of animal cruelty after a dog was found running loose in Pittsfield. Veterinarians said the dog was muzzled for a long period of time, which caused severe tissue damage.
The agents determined that Bizier had last owned the dog and found that she was allegedly still selling dogs online.
On March 17, Skowhegan Police, agents from the Animal Welfare Program and employees from the Somerset Humane Society executed a search warrant at Bizier’s residence in Skowhegan. They found seven pitbull puppies during the search, as well as four adult dogs of various breeds, according to the release.
According to information from police, a female pitbull was malnourished and nursing, three puppies were found locked in a closet with a box of cat litter, and four puppies were found in a bathtub with wet cat food and a blanket soaked in urine.
Those who suspect they may have been a victim of Bizier’s are asked to report it to Skowhegan Police or the Animal Welfare Program.
Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239