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Monday, February 26, 2024
Feb. 26, 2024

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AG sues Puppyland over alleged false health guarantees, predatory loans

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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against Puppyland, alleging that the company misrepresents its breeding standards and health guarantees of its dogs and pressures buyers into high-interest loans.

Consumers complained to the attorney general’s office that the purebred and designer mixed-breed puppies they bought from the retailer became “violently sick” after purchase. They also alleged the franchise, which has a store in Puyallup and previously in Renton, would routinely deny buyers coverage, despite guaranteeing coverage for veterinary costs within a time window. Buyers were saddled with thousands of dollars in bills.

In at least two cases, the puppy became so sick they died, according to the attorney general’s office.

In a statement to The Seattle Times, Puppyland owner Kayla Kerr said the company is not yet in a position to comment on specific allegations, but that “the premise of the lawsuit is inconsistent with our values and business practices.”

“The health and welfare of our puppies has been and remains our first priority, and we give more people the ability to buy their next ‘forever’ pet,” Kerr said.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court Friday, also alleges that the store would not disclose prices until a customer had committed to buying a dog. Prices range between $3,000 and $10,000. Buyers were also pressured into agreeing to loans with interest rates as high as 200% to pay for the pet, the attorney general’s office alleges.

According to the lawsuit, Puppyland does not disclose breeding information to its buyers or employees, and many of the dogs are sourced from one of the largest “puppy brokers” in the country, which is based in Iowa.

The attorney general’s office claims that Puppyland has violated the Consumer Protection Act and also included an illegal nondisclosure provision in purchase paperwork in an attempt to prevent consumers from sharing information about their experience. The purchase agreement would also void any health warranties if a buyer left a negative review on online websites, according to the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office is also seeking restitution for Washington residents who financed puppies through the company. The office estimates about 7,000 people purchased puppies from Puppyland’s Washington stores since they opened in 2018. There are also Puppyland-branded stores in Georgia, Idaho and Texas, according to the attorney general’s office.

House Bill 1424, passed by the state House and Senate, would prohibit the use of consumer leases or loans to buy a dog or cat, and require retail pet stores to disclose information about the pet’s price and the breeder’s federal license number.

Stores with three or more violations within a one-year period would no longer be allowed to sell in Washington.

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