Big Lawsuit for Little Victims

By on June 20, 2007 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Puppy mills are factory farms for dogs. The animals are confined in small cages. The females are bred time and again with little concern for their health. They receive no love or human affection. And they are treated like agricultural commodities—not as our closest companions.

Approximately one-third of the nation’s 11,000 pet stores sell puppies—with the preponderance of the dogs originating on puppy mills, most of them clustered in the Midwest. For the puppy millers and the pet stores, the profit margins are large, and so are the misrepresentations. Unsuspecting animal lovers make an impulse purchase after seeing an adorable dog, but the acquired animals are often sick, poorly socialized and genetically unfit from inbreeding.

But on Monday, The Humane Society of the United States sent a shot across the bow of the pet store industry and its suppliers: no more business as usual.

White puppy purchased at Wizard of Claws pet store
This puppy, purchased from the Wizard of
Claws, was plagued with health problems.

A groundbreaking class-action lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of HSUS members and more than 100 other individuals against a notorious Florida puppy dealer known as Wizard of Claws. This is the first class-action lawsuit organized by The HSUS in our 53-year history, and we believe the first class-action suit against a U.S. puppy dealer.

The suit—the latest legal dust-up involving Wizard of Claws—alleges that the dealer has defrauded customers by misrepresenting the origin of puppies, and by selling puppy mill dogs who suffer from severe health problems and genetic defects—all in violation of Florida law.

The complaint includes a litany of heartrending accounts of Wizard of Claws selling sick or dying puppies and then stonewalling when consumers complained. “Tator” had a contagious parasite and died two days after being brought home; “Vanna” had a severe liver defect that resulted in constant seizures and she died just weeks after she was purchased; “Misha" had severe pneumonia and a collapsed lung, and she only partially recovered after months of intensive treatment.

Miami’s WTVJ-TV NBC 6 documented similar accounts in its 10-part series, “Puppy Heartbreak.” Their investigation traced a trail of 276 complaints from Wizard of Claws customers and included undercover footage of terrible conditions at a puppy mill from where the shop obtains puppies.

Businesses like Wizard of Claws get by defrauding one customer at a time. But The HSUS and NBC 6 are helping add it all up for consumers.

You can help fight this by signing our pledge to stop puppy mills, and then asking your friends and family to do the same. By choosing not to buy your next pet or any pet supplies from retail stores or Internet sites that sell dogs or cats, you are directly helping to end this cycle of cruelty. Spread the word.

Companion Animals

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