Judge allows pet stores to resume selling puppies

Two Long Island pet stores accused by state Attorney General Letitia James of knowingly buying and selling critically ill dogs can resume selling puppies, but under strict conditions, according to an order from a judge in Nassau County.

The ruling, issued Friday by Nassau Supreme Court Justice Helen Voutsinas, lifts a December temporary restraining order preventing Shake A Paw, with stores in Hicksville and Lynbrook, from buying animals for resale.

But the company must first post a bond of $250,000, agree to purchase animals from breeders licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and provide a list of breeders from whom it has purchased puppies to the office. of the Attorney General and authorize the examination of the animals by an independent veterinarian. .

“The temporary restraining order…must be amended to allow the respondents to continue to operate their business, including allowing them to buy and sell puppies,” Voutsinas wrote.

Shake A Paw co-owner Marc Jacobs said his business follows state laws and regulations.

“For more than 28 years, Shake A Paw has delighted 80,000 loyal and highly satisfied Long Island pet owners and their families,” he said. “Shake A Paw only acquires puppies from licensed, legal breeders and has never knowingly sold a sick puppy.”

Voutsinas dismissed a complaint alleging Shake A Paw puppies were not handled in a humane manner, causing them physical harm or injury.

But she let claims the company operated fraudulently, engaged in deceptive marketing practices and falsely advertised its product, noting that the terms of its contract with people who buy puppies are “susceptible to mislead a reasonable consumer”.

A hearing, Voutsinas said, will be required to resolve the remaining violations.

“Shake A Paw must be held accountable for all the pain they have caused countless families who have purchased sick puppies from their stores,” Attorney General James said in a statement. “Overwhelming evidence shows that Shake A Paw’s business practices were unconscionable and illegal. We will continue to fight to protect these puppies and New York consumers. New Yorkers deserve relief from being misled and we are determined to bring it to them.

Shake A Paw’s lawyer, Richard Hamburger, called the decision a “vindication” for the company and said the Lynbrook store, which closed last month, would now reopen.

James’ lawsuit argues that Shake A Paw sold puppies with serious illnesses or birth defects, despite obtaining signed health certificates from the company’s contract veterinarians, often days before the sale. Many puppies died within weeks of purchase, the suit said.

The lawsuit, seeking restitution and civil penalties, alleges Shake A Paw sold dogs acquired from puppy mills, lied about their health and pedigree, fabricated health certificates and failed to provide refunds, in violation of the Pet Lemon Act.

Jacobs said his company has reimbursed veterinary bills up to the selling price, fully reimbursed customers or exchanged sick puppies for another.

Documents filed by Shake a Paw indicate that 214 of 220 puppies examined in January by an independent, court-appointed veterinarian were found to be healthy and fit for sale.

But James’ office said his contract vets visited the stores a month earlier and found much sicker animals. The attorney general’s veterinarians then provided medical advice to better treat the animals, officials said.

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