Man pleads not guilty to illegally importing puppies

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — After showing up late for his own arraignment Monday, 30-year-old Justin Wagner took to the stand at Kent County District Court.

Before he arrived, the judge declared him a no-show and issued a bench warrant for his arrest. But he showed up minutes later and the arraignment went on a scheduled.

Wagner, of Fall River, pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of importing dogs without a certificate and one count of running a pet shop without a license.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said Wagner was illegally importing dogs from Pennsylvania.

According to police, they got a tip that Wagner was running an illegal operation and posting dogs for sale on the Loyal Labs Facebook page. He was arrested on Feb. 3 after an undercover office contacted him asking to make a purchase.

Read More: Expert warns against adopting from puppy mills »
Read More: Expert warns against adopting from puppy mills »

Police said Wagner brought seven Labrador Retrievers to the meetup location, offering each one for $600.

Officers placed him under arrest and seized the dogs, saying his did not have the proper paperwork.

According to DEM, the dogs were dehydrated and infested with worms.

Eyewitness News has learned that all of the dogs are doing better and are responding to treatment. According to police, they hope to have them up for adoption soon.

Wagner was released on personal recognizance Monday. He is currently on probation for felony animal cruelty stemming from a separate incident.

According to Barnstable police, he and another man left a puppy in a pickup truck for about 10 hours back in August while it was more than 80 degrees out.

The judge barred Wagner from possessing any animals. He’s due back in court Feb. 29 for a pretrial hearing.

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