A pet store with locations in multiple states has been sued for allegedly selling sick and dying puppies to customers for thousands of dollars, violating terms of promised health guarantees, and pressuring people into predatory loans.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Puppyland — a family-owned chain with store locations in Puyallup, Washington, as well as Texas, Georgia, and Idaho — in King County Superior Court in April.
The lawsuit alleges that the pet store misrepresented breeding standards and also sold unhealthy puppies — including those who defecated blood, suffered from Giardia, had seizures, and died in the weeks following purchases — while also restricting customers’ ability to leave truthful online reviews via a reportedly illegal nondisclosure clause in the purchase contract.
Purchasers who signed the contracts agreed not to “disparage, defame, sully, or compromise the goodwill of Puppyland,” with the pet store saying it would void its health warranties if a consumer left a negative online review, according to the lawsuit.
A person who reportedly purchased a Shiba Inu from Puppyland’s Puyallup location told the Attorney General she wanted to leave a negative online review when the puppy died but chose not to for fear the pet store would sue her, according to the lawsuit.
“Businesses that sell puppies and other pets have an obligation to consumers not to deceive them or take advantage of them,” Ferguson said in a press release. “We will continue working to ensure Washington families seeking to purchase a household pet are treated fairly.”
Puppyland did not respond to media inquiries.
The pet store did not disclose the price of the puppies, which ranged from $3,000 to $10,000, until a person committed to a purchase. Then, Puppyland staff reportedly pressured purchasers into loans with interest rates of up to nearly 200 percent, according to the lawsuit.
Those high-interest loans, along with post-purchase vet bills, caused one 18-year-old customer to lose her apartment and live in her car with her newly acquired puppy, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that Puppyland promised customers “You are always covered” but was “unresponsive” to customers who reached out about ill puppies. Purchasing agreements included fine-print denying claims, including a reported 15-day protection period to cover vet costs that required people to have their puppy examined by a veterinarian within three days to qualify.
The lawsuit seeks penalties of thousands of dollars for each alleged violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act as well as restitution for impacted customers.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Lady Freethinker has heard of seemingly sick puppies sold in pet stores who reportedly came with health guarantees, nor the first time we’ve seen apparently misleading claims made to customers about where pet store puppies are obtained.
Meanwhile, millions of perfectly healthy and personable dogs are languishing and being killed in U.S. animal shelters. We encourage everyone to always adopt — rather than shop — for companion animals! There’s no better way to cut the cruelty inherent in puppy mills and the breeders who put profit over their animals’ welfare while also making sure you’re getting the perfect pal whose personality and energy levels will best match your lifestyle!