Lawsuit against nation's largest online dog seller gets bigger

50 more customers claim they were sold sick pups

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The lawsuit, filed today in Miami-Dade, claims Purebred Breeders, based out of Fort Lauderdale misled customers into believing the puppies they purchased  were healthy and came from high quality breeders.  Instead, more than 50 plaintiffs allege, the dogs arrived sick or injured. In one case, a woman claims she got a dog with deformed feet.

The lawsuit, filed in partnership by Leopold Law Firm of Palm Beach Gardens and The Humane Society of the United States, charges Purebred Breeders with operating nearly 800 Web domains designed to mislead customers into thinking they were dealing with breeders in their home states when they were shopping online for a puppy.

"Purebred Breeders continues to operate a deceptive business model that is generating a host of distraught customers across more than 20 states," said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations for The Humane Society of the United States."Internet puppy sellers like Purebred Breeders deceive consumers about the origins of the puppies they sell and inflict huge expenses and terrible anguish on unsuspecting families that purchase sick or dying dogs over the Internet."

Purebred Breeders denies the accusations. In a statement provided to the Contact 5 Investigators, the company says, in part, "Purebred Breeders has placed puppies with thousands of families over many years. The company was created by a group of dog lovers who saw an avenue to match the best dog breeders in the US with families across the country. Purebred Breeders has the most stringent standards in the industry that far exceed any local, state or federal regulations. We are committed to animal welfare and are concerned about any substandard facilities where the well being and health of any animal is not forefront."

In October, The Humane Society of the United States released the results of their own investigation into Purebred Breeders. The 3 month undercover investigation captured video at 6 of the company's breeders where investigators found dogs stacked in wire cages and, often, in dirty conditions. 

Read the full complaint:    

 

Read the full statement by Purebred Breeders:  

 

Purebred Breeders has placed puppies with thousands of families over many years. The company was created by a group of dog lovers who saw an avenue to match the best dog breeders in the US with families across the country. Purebred Breeders has the most stringent standards in the industry that far exceed any local, state or federal regulations. We are committed to animal welfare and are concerned about any substandard facilities where the well being and health of any animal is not forefront. Our "feet on the ground" program includes field representatives who visit breeders to ensure we are only working with those who adhere to the same high welfare and breeding standards that we require.

All puppies placed by Purebred Breeders undergo a thorough physical exam by a licensed veterinarian prior to arriving at the customer's home. Customer care representatives review the extensive Breeder Health Report completed on each puppy to ensure there are no known health issues prior to delivery. Customers are than required to take their puppy to their own vet within 48 hours.

An independent survey of all of our customers over the past 18 months was recently completed with over 4,000 responses received. Purebred Breeders received a 4.62 out of 5 overall experience rating, with over 92% of customers giving the company a 4 or 5 overall excellent rating. We believe this is a much more accurate representation of our services and the experiences of our customers than what the HSUS is trying to portray in their complaint.

Of the thousands of families we have worked with over the years, the Humane Society of the United States ("HSUS"), a lobbying and legal organization who hides as a non-profit, has solicited and rounded up a small group of people to join their complaint. Purebred Breeders tries very hard to resolve any issues that customers have brought to our attention. Although we have not yet received the amended HSUS complaint, it should be noted that the majority of the 10 plaintiffs in the initial complaint filed in November 2011 had their issues amicably resolved with the company prior to being solicited by HSUS. Their claims were baseless and without merit and the company has asked the court to dismiss the complaint.

The Humane Society of the United States has a long history of filing frivolous, publicity driven and unsuccessful lawsuits against responsible businesses. We believe this is another attempt by HSUS, to harm our business and gain publicity. The Humane Society of the United States is nothing

more than a fundraising, lobbying and publicity seeking organization with little regard for local community shelters and animal adoption. According to their own tax return, over 60% of the funds they raise goes towards paying internal salaries and outside consultants. Despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States has no affiliation to the local humane society shelters located throughout the country that actually provide care for homeless animals. Many local shelters have complained that they have lost desperately needed donations because of misleading advertising by the Humane Society of the United States, which raised over $1 billion from donations in recent years, but reportedly has spent less than one percent to support local shelters. HSUS has instituted this publicity driven lawsuit against Purebred Breeders to coincide with efforts to influence regulations for dog breeders presently under consideration by the US Department of Agriculture.

For these reasons and other questionable practices, a group of United States senators and congressmen have asked the U.S. Justice Department for a federal investigation of the Humane Society of the United States's operations and lobbying efforts for possible violations of IRS regulations governing its tax exempt status. Additionally, Ringling Bro. Barnum & Bailey Circus has filed a Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit against the Humane Society of the United Statesalleging bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering as a result of alleged false evidence in a similar frivolous lawsuit filed by the HSUS. In addition, Ringling Brothers is seeking $20 million in legal fees from the suit that they ultimately won in trial court in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.

 

Related links:

http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/online-puppy-company-accused-of-shipping-sick-puppies

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