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How much is that doggie on the streetcorner?

Puppy vendor knew how to avoid breaking the law

Bernard Samuel Sephus
  • Bernard Samuel Sephus
  • from video by Alexander Uhler, Yvonne Ha, and Yuka Murakmi

On November 3rd, Lisandra Antonio was at work in Hillcrest when a client of hers came in and asked her to help "save" a puppy from a man who was trying to selling it.

“My client was driving to the salon for her appointment and this guy holds a puppy up to her car," says Lisandra. "She didn't want to go alone, so she came and grabbed me. When we walked up to him we met another girl who was on the same mission. Apparently he had also flagged her down.

Diamond

Diamond

"He says that the dog is his and purchased her with his own money…. We ask him if he would like to sell us the dog and how much she costs. He refuses to give us a price. He keeps saying we need to go into a business or one of our homes in order to sell the dog because he'll get in trouble if he sells her on the street. He keeps saying he doesn't want to ‘catch a case.’

"Then he goes on to say that if we want to buy the dog that we need to call the police to witness it. We just thought he was crazy and honestly didn't think the cops would come out for that…. So I look across the street and I saw a parking cop giving out tickets. I flagged her down and asked her to come help us. It was pretty ridiculous. My client and the other girl [the man had flagged down] each gave $100. He made them give the meter cop the money and then the cop gave the girls the puppy for $200.

On Friday (November 4) Lisandra was telling another client about the incident. "Oh, the Prince of Puppies got you," the client said. She said the man's name was Bernard Samuel Sephus.

He wrote a book titled Prince of Puppies. Of the six reviews on Amazon.com, four of them accuse Sephus of animal cruelty and one alleges he's a thief. A records search shows he was arrested for a criminal act in December 2015.

In a video recorded earlier this year in Tijuana by a UCSD film student, Sephus initially refuses to speak to the filmmaker if he’s “a member of LCA,” Last Chance for Animals, a Hollywood-based animal-rights organization.

In the video, Sephus holds a puppy while saying, “America cares more about a dog than they do for a human being, and I realized if I sold dogs, I could make a lot of money…so I entered the field of selling puppies when I was in Los Angeles…and what I learned was I had stumbled upon one of the secret hustles of white America, that is selling dogs….

"Then I found myself in a lot of trouble. Animal activists…PETA, LCA, the dog pound on Gaines Street…. I have been incarcerated…put in prison, I’ve been arrested more than 20 times for selling puppies…. I had to leave L.A., but I’ll be back…but let me make this clear, I am at war with LCA…. It’s an organization on Sunset Strip, Last Chance For Animals.”

According to California Penal Code section 597.4, it is unlawful (with exceptions) "for any person to willfully sell, display or offer for sale or give away as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk." The first violation is an infraction punishable by a fine up to $250. However, if the animal suffers, is injured, or its life or health is endangered, then the person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

The puppy rescued by Lisandra was adopted by the receptionist at the salon and is now named Diamond. As for the women who donated $100 each?

"Nope they didn't care to be paid back,” Lisandra told me. “They just wanted the puppy to have a good home. My client told her to save it to put towards her first vet visit cause she's a gem like that. The other girl [who gave $100] had already left."

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Comments

This guy appears to have quite a history in San Diego, if you see him with a puppy that appears to be sick or in distress, please call police or animal control to investigate.

It's still illegal for him to "display" or "offer the dogs for sale" on the street. It doesn't matter if the transaction actually happens elsewhere.

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