Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Pet Store Chain for Selling Sick and Injured “Puppy Mill” Puppies
Posted on September 25, 2014
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a false-advertising lawsuit against “Barkworks,” a Southern California pet store chain (with locations in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Riverside Counties), for selling sick and injured puppies and deceiving consumers about the well-being and health of the puppies. The complaint, filed today in Orange County District Court, alleges that Barkworks violated California state business practices and defrauded consumers by misrepresenting the care and origin of their puppies and by not ensuring veterinary care and rehabilitation of the puppies.
In 2011, ALDF was involved with litigation against Barkworks that resulted in promises by the pet store chain to correct its practice of misinformation about the health and welfare of dogs in their stores. However, ALDF’s lawsuit alleges evidence of ongoing consumer fraud, including the fabrication of breeding certificates and serious animal neglect.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Southern California ALDF members who paid upwards of thousands of dollars for “pure-bred” puppies who Barkworks claimed were from USDA-licensed reputable breeders. In reality, the consumers were sold puppies from “puppy mills”—large-scale commercial breeding facilities that churn out animals without consideration of animal welfare, genetic health, or adequate care. As a result, the plaintiffs’ puppies require expensive and lifelong medical care.
In 2012, Los Angeles banned the sale of “puppy mill” puppies in pet stores. By continuing to sell puppy mill puppies, Barkworks is violating both state business practices and the local ordinance. Puppies bred in puppy mills often lack adequate food, water, socialization, and veterinary care. It is common for puppy mill pups to carry congenital conditions and disease like parvovirus, giardia, mange, kennel cough, hip problems, and respiratory conditions. Investigations have documented immense suffering of dogs forced to be “breeder dogs” and churn out litter after litter in unnatural periods and unsanitary conditions.
“Today’s lawsuit stands up for puppies,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Barkworks has deceived consumers for years about the horrific conditions suffered by the innocent puppies they buy, sell, and profit from. Dog lovers have a right to the truth.”
ALDF’s complaint is available upon request.