More than a dozen sick puppies were discovered Monday night at the border when an alleged smuggler tried to bring them into the U.S.
The 2-month old mixed-breed miniature poodles were taken to an emergency veterinary hospital, where they were diagnosed with parvo virus.
Customs and Border Protection officers said they became aware of the dogs when they noticed some movement in the back seat of a vehicle and found the puppies under a blanket. The officers said the alleged smuggler, Raul Jimenez Gonzalez, claimed a bottle of tequila at the border but not the puppies.
The suspect told officers he was taking the puppies to Los Angeles to sell as Christmas presents, officials said Tuesday.
Border officials said they had recovered 38 puppies in two separate earlier incidents involving Jiminez.
"With the holidays approaching, there is a demand for puppies, and this demand results in puppies being smuggled across the border into the U.S.," said Dawn Danielson, the county director of animal services. "Unfortunately, most of these puppies are sick, so the unsuspecting buyer ends up spending a great deal of money trying to save the puppy’s life, usually without success."
Officials have not yet determined what charges Jiminez will face.