Court says pet parents can sue major online puppy mill broker
An Arizona court has cleared the way for 10 pet parents, who purchased sick animals from notorious puppy mill sellers despite assurances to the contrary, to continue their battle against online dog marketplace PuppyFind. This is just the latest in our offensive against deceptive online puppy mill sellers, which promise healthy, humanely treated dogs to pet lovers but peddle dogs mainly sourced from puppy mills.
The consumers in this case were heartbroken upon discovering they had purchased animals who’d been in an unhealthy environment and came to them sick. The amended complaint filed in February by the Arizona law firm Burch & Cracchiolo with assistance from the HSUS legal team, alleges that PuppyFind misled the consumers into believing they were buying from reputable breeders by falsely inflating seller ratings and cherry-picking uniformly positive reviews about these breeders. In reality, the puppies the plaintiffs received came from George and Tabitha Doyle, who have a long history of consumer complaints on the sale of sick puppies. Ms. Doyle has been convicted of 47 counts of animal cruelty. The Doyles are also among several breeders featured in The HSUS’s 2017 Horrible Hundred report, which highlights problem puppy mills around the country. (Yesterday, I wrote about how consumers now don’t even have the option on a go-forward basis to consult a USDA database to check inspection records, after the federal agency took down all reports in February based on a phony concern about privacy.)
In fact, many of the puppy mills that have been featured in our Horrible Hundred report have routinely advertised on PuppyFind.com, including Tonya Lewis (aka Tonya’s Tiny Companions), located in East Dublin, Georgia, who authorities charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty after several sick dogs and puppies were found at Lewis’ property, and Patti West (who operates under the business name of Lorrains Yorkies) of Meigs, Georgia, who state inspectors found was housing dogs in such inhumane conditions that they had to wear gas masks for the inspection. Despite their record of poor care for their animals, many of these sellers have primarily high ratings and positive reviews on PuppyFind. That’s just another part of the deception built around this online promoter of puppy mills.
PuppyFind claimed that since the reviews come from website users, the website itself is immune from liability under the federal Communications Decency Act. But PuppyFind deletes negative reviews about sellers, and the lawsuit alleges they do so for the purpose of supporting artificially high ratings. HSUS attorney Kim Ockene argued before the court that a website cannot be entirely immune from perpetuating consumer fraud, which is exactly what we believe is involved in this case.
Despite this victory in the Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona, the fight is far from over. PuppyFind has already indicated that it will seek an appeal. Our legal team, with assistance of counsel at Burch & Cracchiolo, will continue to defend against PuppyFind’s attempts to stop consumers from getting justice for themselves and their sick puppies.
This isn’t the first time we’ve linked slick websites to terrible puppy mills. Our investigation of Purebred Breeders LLC (now called Puppy Spot) was featured on the Today Show in 2011, after we reported that the site had approximately 800 different web urls, and misled consumers into thinking they were buying from small, local breeders; instead, many consumers ended up with sick puppies from questionable sellers. Our concern about unregulated online puppy sellers was the main reason we pressed the Obama administration to finalize the retail pet stores rule in 2013. The rule requires puppy sellers who ship animals sight unseen to pet buyers to follow the same USDA regulations as those who sell to pet stores — but too often the rule is not enforced, allowing hundreds of the country’s worst puppy mills to operate in the shadows of the law.
This case is also a reminder about why all of us, as pet lovers, need to be ever so vigilant about deceptive advertising in the retail pet industry. Here at The HSUS, we hear every day from unhappy consumers who purchased puppies online only to discover their beloved pets are sick. Click here for more information on how to find a responsible breeder or adopt a homeless animal from a shelter or rescue group. If you have purchased a sick or ill-treated puppy please report it by filling out our Puppy Buyer Complaint Form.
I recently “bought” a puppy on puppyfind.com and ITS A SCAM. There’s a bunch of red flags. I know better but I recently lost my dog and was desperate. I check EVERYTHING. They tried to fool me.
Puppyfind is just an online advertisement platform. They charge breeders to post puppy for sale ads. Might as well sue the newpapers for ads placed by breeders too?
Partial quote from article: “ship animals sight unseen to pet buyers” – How does a buyer not see this as a MAJOR red flag?! And if they have to advertise repeatedly, I think something’s wrong. My friend who bred Bichons in her home NEVER had to advertise. She had waiting lists of people wanting her dogs – even at $1,000 per pup. And, no, she didn’t get rich doing it because she was a TRULY responsible breeder. She’d wait till a dog was old enough to have a litter without risking it’s health. A dog was bred no more than once a year. And she’d only let a dog have so many litters. And owners had to come to her home get the dog. She had nothing to hide.
I have been scammed 3 times on puppyfind. Hats off to those who bought within their state. Only way to not get scammed: DONOT SEND ANY MONEY. PICK UP YOUR PUPPY IN PERSON. AND PAY ONLY IF EVERYTHING IS AS STATED IN YOUR APPLICATION AND CONTRACT.
Puppy Spot gets you thinking that everything is fabulous. Well, after getting our pup (who we love) No one would get back to me. They lie. I have no bloodline on my dog. I was told they would get it from the “Breeder” They lied again because I was now told that my dog isn’t registered and the breeder doesn’t give a bloodline. I paid $5400!!!!! I know its completely insane but something made me fall in love with the dog. Paul (salesperson) stopped answering all emails after I received my puppy. She was supposed to come with a puppy pack. Guess what? No puppy pack.
I filled out two separate papers to split the cost. Guess what? They put it all on one card. I was told the price was so high because there was a shortage during the pandemic. That’s clearly a lie but I was blinded with all these red flags. Our Malteses had passed away and we wanted a friend for our other Golden Doodle.
NO ONE HAS ANY ANSWERS!!! THEY DON”T GIVE ANSWERS AFTER YOU PURCHASE. NOTHING GETS RESOLVED EXCEPT BEING PUSHED OFF TO ONE PERSON TO THE NEXT. THEY GET AWAY WITH WHAT THEY WANT BY LYING AND CAN”T EVEN PROVIDE THE NAME OF THE HIGHER UP.
THEY WANT ME TO GET A DNA TEST!!!!!!!! WHAT IN THE WORLD????? MY OTHER DOG CAME WITH ALL PAPERWORK. I HAD NO IDEA THAT I’D NEED A DNA TEST FOR MY DOG. I know the cost was insane. I truly do but something about her got me. THEY STILL HAVEN’T SENT THE PUPPY PACK< CORRECTED MY FINANCES< GIVEN ME A BLOODLINE OR ANY OTHER QUESTION I HAVE.
THEY LITERALLY ASKED ME IF I WANT TO RETURN MY DOG!!!!
WHAT RESPECTABLE PLACE WOULD SUGGEST THAT SO EASILY? IT"S AWFUL.
I"M STILL WITHOUT ANSWERS AND HAVE TO CONSTANTLY REPEAT MYSELF OVER AND OVER WITH NO ONE HAVING ANSWERS.
Look up employees reviews and the reviews that a lot of people gave a 1 too.
I have never seen such disgusting and unprofessional people. They have zero concern for the puppies.
Until I get the bloodline or any other information, I will keep researching. I'll keep warning people and writing reviews. I will believe this is a PUPPY MILL! Apparently my breed doesn't get registered or bloodlines. Meanwhile my other little guy came with All papers. THIS IS SICK! I ADORE MY PUP BUT BUYER BEWARE!!!
My puppy is a child to us. All they answer with is: Do you want to return your puppy? I'm disgusted and will continue to see wth is going on with this business.
We used to ship puppies for Puppy Spot: A lot of the breeders are in KY , AR and mostly MO and are terrible puppy mills .they have gotten rid of all the ethical breeders that push back on there new way of travel .. a trailer like trailer trash on wheels .. I’ve pulled up to a breeder in MO and saw them spraying the dog house out which was two story high chicken coop on grated wire .. The dogs where on the wire being stayed from below . I turned the breeder into Puppy Spot and still had to pick up the next route from her . They didn’t care because she produced a lot of money for them. The breeder than later started complaints on me for not taking sick animals . Puppy spot now uses Premier Pets to transport their puppies in a trailer without windows or anything like livestock to the slaughter crammed into a hauled trailer to be sold .Premier Pets is also a breeder puppy mill . If I had turned a blind eye I would still be shipping for them . Your puppy was hauled like cattle to an airport where they ship like luggage and are delivered to you like none of it happened. Puppy Spot is the ultimate puppy mill with no one to stop them . The trailer allows them to move the animals without being seen .