SAN DIEGO -- A twice-convicted animal abuser who calls himself the “Prince of Puppies” is using his self-described “hustle” on animal loving San Diegans.
Bernard Samuel Sephus Jr., 63, was convicted of animal cruelty twice in Los Angeles, in 2006 and 2013. He was also convicted for assault. Sephus, who is homeless, is now selling dogs in San Diego.
“I have been incarcerated,” Sephus told Alexander Uhler, a UCSD film student, in a short film called The Prince of Puppies. “I have been put in prison. I have been arrested more than 20 times for selling puppies.”
“Americans care more about dogs than they do a human being, and I realized if I sold dogs I could make a lot of money,” Sephus said in the film, which was released this year.
A hairdresser named Lisa said she was with a client in Hillcrest recently when her client and another woman paid Sephus, who is homeless, $200 for a tiny puppy.
“He’s like sitting on the bench, makes eye contact with girls, shaking the dog at them,” Lisa said.
Lisa said Sephus appeared to be squeezing the puppy tightly, on purpose, to make it cry.
“He would cross his arms, like squeeze her and she would start whimpering, and we were like, ‘oh my gosh, what is this guy doing with this dog?’” Lisa said, adding Sephus would not take the money directly from them or hand them the puppy because he did not want to “catch a case.”
Lisa flagged down a parking attendant to be the intermediary.
“We totally gave this guy money, like we fed into his hustle,” Lisa said.
Amy Tillman also saw Sephus in Hillcrest.
“He had the puppy on the leash, and what he was doing is he was actually pulling the leash up so that the puppies feet came off the ground and he was choking the puppy and I could hear it yelp and gasp for air,” Tillman said.
Tillman tried to record the alleged abuse.
“He started getting really aggressive and yelling at me,” Tillman said.
Sephus brags he also wrote a book titled “The Prince of Puppies.” It is listed on Amazon, but there are no copies available.
A San Diego County Animal Services officer familiar with Sephus told 10News Sephus gets his dogs, and sometimes even rabbits, from Tijuana. The officer said they have confiscated some of the dogs from him at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Maybe eventually we can get this off the streets and save some animals lives and stop some people from getting scammed and hurt,” Tillman said.
Animal Services is asking the public to contact them immediately if they see Sephus trying to sell an animal.