November 21, 2016
Placerville, CA. - Ginger Turk, 46, formerly of El Dorado Hills, was sentenced on November 18, 2016, in El Dorado County Superior Court by Judge Ginger TurkKenneth Mellikian for felony animal cruelty, operating without a license and eleven other counts related to her sale of puppies imported from South Korea. Turk, a puppy broker, imported tiny, under-aged, un-weaned, high-priced ($4,000+) puppies from South Korea and sold them over the internet and in person. Turk lived in multiple locations over the years, including Sacramento and El Dorado county residences, and operated under multiple business names such as Teacup Puppy Couture, La Chic Puppy Boutique and Beverly Hills Teacups, and used multiple aliases such as Ginger Maree (Hunter), Jen Turk and Jenna Brennan. The Humane Society of the United States and the City of Folsom Animal Services Department assisted El Dorado County with the investigation.
Turk was sentenced to one year in the County jail, is prohibited from selling, possessing, transporting or importing dogs for at least 10 years and is required to pay restitution for the investigation and other penalty assessments. Additionally Turk will be on felony probation for five years with searchable provision and required to notify any animal services agency where she resides of her address and any name change. Turk must report to the County jail on January 13, 2017.
"We are glad to see Turk's operation shut down so that no more animals suffer," said Henry Brzezinski, Chief of El Dorado County Animal Services. "We also hope the case helps bring awareness to the puppy buying community. We encourage people to look to adopt from a local government or non-profit animal shelter. When choosing to use a private breeder, it is important for consumers to do their homework. If they suspect illegal activity or inhumane treatment of animals, they should contact their local animal services agency or law enforcement."
Turk sold animals throughout the US and in other countries. She has had multiple complaints from consumers who purchased sick puppies from her.
In 2012, Turk was convicted in Sacramento Superior Court of felony forgery charges after a woman purchased a sick puppy online from her. The puppy died of Parvovirus within a few days. The buyer contacted the veterinarian who appeared to have signed the puppy's health documents, only to be told that the papers were forged. Investigation of the case determined that Turk had fraudulently forged the signature of a Folsom veterinarian. Court documents showed numerous other complainants who reported that puppies they bought from Turk were received sick or diseased, and some died. Turk was sentenced to five years of probation in the Sacramento County case.
In May 2014, during a felony probation search of the Turk home in El Dorado Hills, Animal Services Officers and Sheriff's Deputies found that Turk was operating illegally without a license and had puppies imported from South Korea in her possession. One puppy was only a few weeks old and barely alive, its mouth sealed shut, dehydrated, and severely underweight. Animal Services took the puppy to a veterinarian who provided care for dehydration and malnutrition but the puppy died the next day. Other under-age puppies were also found in poor living conditions in the Turk home, including several puppies living in small plexiglass cages in a laundry room that lacked proper ventilation, with a strong smell of feces and urine permeating the room.
Turk was listed in the Humane Society of the United States' 2014 publication, "101 Puppy Mills: A Sampling of Problem Puppy Mills in the United States." Federal regulations require dogs imported from other countries to be healthy and at least 6 months of age. California law prohibits the sale of any dog under the age of 8 weeks. Anyone selling dogs commercially in California must maintain a current Retail Sale of Dogs and Cats license through the State; they may also be required to possess a City or County Commercial Animal License.
Noting his office's commitment to ensure that animal abusers are held accountable for their crimes, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson stated, "This case represents a stunning example of greed, where the most vulnerable of creatures were sacrificed so that Ms. Turk could enrich herself. The fact that Ms. Turk engaged in these multiple acts of animal cruelty while on probation for a related crime (forging veterinary documents) evidences her complete disregard for the lives of these puppies, as well as for our laws. Hopefully, this prosecution will not only save lives by preventing Ms. Turk from exploiting other dogs in the future, but will also serve as a warning to those who might engage in similar criminal conduct that animal cruelty will not be tolerated."
Brzezinski expressed gratitude to agency partners who helped bring resolution to the Turk case. "We'd like to thank the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office specifically District Attorney Vern Pierson and Deputy District Attorneys Lydia Stuart, Trish Kelliher and Edwin Kim, Humane Society of the United States Senior Law Enforcement Specialist Eric Sakach and City of Folsom Animal Services Department Officer Cindy Walden for their assistance and prosecution of this case," said Brzezinski.
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