GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A former Gwinnett County dog breeder will spend a night in jail after pleading guilty to keeping animals stacked in filthy cages. This comes two months after the judge rejected the first plea deal.
Monica Wong was charged with 60 counts of unlawful acts by a person at a licensed animal facility, which basically means as a licensed dog breeder, she didn’t care for her animals the way the animal cruelty law says she should.
In June, Wong was prepared to plead nolo to one count, with the solicitor’s office agreeing not to prosecute the other charges. Nolo is used when a defendant accepts the consequences but doesn’t admit guilt.
On Thursday morning, it was still unclear if Wong was going to accept a harsher plea deal or go to trial the following week. But after a series of meetings with the judge, Wong agreed to settle.
Wong’s attorney told the judge, “This entire experience has had a profound negative effect on both her and her family.”
Under the new deal approved by the judge, Wong pleaded guilty to 30 of the misdemeanor charges, with the solicitor's office agreeing not to prosecute the rest.
Wong was sentenced to 90 months probation and prohibited from even owning a personal pet. During her probation, she will be subject to unannounced in-home inspections to verify she is not breeding, selling, or even living with domestic animals. Judge Brantley ordered that the inspections be photographed.
11Alive Investigates started looking into Wong’s breeding business more than three years ago, talking with people across the country who have accused her of selling sick puppies or leaving the dogs in poor living conditions.
But the only complaint that led to criminal charges, was the conditions of her Lawrenceville puppy store in February 2021.
One woman who filed a complaint described it this way to 11Alive: “There was absolutely no ventilation. The dogs that she had in the pens in the front were panting so heavily. There were puppy pads in there that were completely soiled and chewed up. I would call it anxiety chew.”
When animal control went to check it out, Wong didn’t even know how many dogs were there. She told inspectors 45. They counted 81.
That’s why the judge said she had two goals.
“That she get help, if she needs help she gets a mental health evaluation to help and that we make sure that she is not in this business anymore of breeding, and brokering, selling domestic animals,” explained Judge Brantley in court.
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The faces and conditions inside dog breeding facilities ran by Monica Wong
Wong did tell the judge she was sorry. She blamed the conditions at her store on an early shipment of dogs, admitting that at the time, she didn’t have enough staff to handle them.
Wong said she now works in financial services and sold her puppy business after receiving the citations.
“We quickly realized that this was just not the business for us to be in because it was very stressful and it will never happen again,” said Wong in court.