Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A long list of unfair and deceptive acts

(Detroit, MI) Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan warns families about the long list of unfair and deceptive practices found at puppy stores and offers guidance on how to obtain refunds, file complaints and outlaw puppy mill dogs in their community.

The organization warns Michigan is a buyer beware state. "Pet stores are no longer licensed or regulated by the state and local law enforcement agencies are not regularly inspecting stores or enforcing the Pet Shop Laws” said Pam Sordyl, Founder of Puppy Mill Awareness. 

In June, The Humane Society of the United States petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to create a Trade Regulation Rule that would define the following acts as unfair or deceptive:

·        Advertising as, or as Only Doing Business with, Breeders who are “Reputable,” “Responsible,” or Other Like Terms;
·        Claiming to Be, or Only to Do Business with, “Licensed,” “Certified,” or “Inspected” Breeders;
·        Selling Puppies who are Unfit for Sale;
·        Labeling Puppies as Vet-Checked, Healthy, Health-Guaranteed or Health-Certified, and/or Falsifying or Misrepresenting Veterinary Records;
·        Offering a Deceptive Health Guarantee;
·        Advertising Puppies for Sale as Pedigree “Registerable,” “Registered,” or from Registered Parents;
·        Representing the Breeder as “Local” without Identifying the Verified Locality;
·        Failing to Disclose Material Facts about the Breeder or Puppy;
·        Misrepresenting the Traits of the Puppy for Sale;
·        Offering Misleading or Predatory Finance Options;
·        Utilizing Misleading Testimonials, Rating Systems, or Endorsements;
·        Describing the Transaction as an Adoption rather than a Sale;
·        Advertising Certain Breeds of Puppies as “Hypoallergenic”;
·        Advertising Certain Breeds of Puppies as “Micro” or “Teacup;”
·        Failing to Deliver the Puppy Purchased.

Petland Novi Lawsuits 

In 2018, over two dozen families filed lawsuits against Petland Novi, located in the Twelve Oaks Mall, seeking monetary damages for breach of contract and multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act after purchasing puppies. The puppies suffered from a range of issues, including congenital defects, infections, parasites, worms and some had highly contagious diseases.

As of right now, court documents show the cases as being stayed and it is currently unknown whether Petland will reimburse these families for the thousands of dollars that have been spent keeping the animals alive.

The Family Puppy Complaint 

Toni Kastanos, a Waterford resident, estimates she has spent $20,000 in emergency veterinary care after purchasing a Bullmastiff at The Family Puppy store located in the Novi Fountain Walk shopping center. Her recent GoFundMepage states “This place knowingly gave us a sick Bullmastiff in March. He came home with a severe ear infection and GI issue.  By May, Dudley was in the emergency room for about a week. He had to have multiple blood transfusions just to survive the next 24 hours.  July 3rd I had to rush Dudley back to the emergency room and after more blood transfusions we had to make the decision to let him go. The Family Puppy told us to pay the extra insurance thru them and the AKC yet they wont take responsibility for anything.”

Ware-house like kennels 

There are approximately 18 puppy retail stores in Michigan. The two largest retail outlets, Petland (Novi) and The Family Puppy (Troy, Novi, Flint), have been linked to large-commercial kennels located out of state. Puppy Mill Awareness posted warnings with breeder photos and inspection reports online to help inform unwitting buyers.

Learn more about The Family Puppy’s breeders...

Learn more about Petland Novi’s breeders...

“When pet stores purchase from distant states, families can not easily visit, see the conditions or meet the parents before purchasing the puppy” said Sordyl. “Puppies sourced from warehouse-like kennels are often inbred, over bred carrying congenital defects, as well as, illnesses from living in unsanitary conditions. Even the small mom and pop stores, like The Barking Boutique located in Grandville, are in the business of misleading families as to the source of the puppy, the puppy’s health history and offering deceptive financing options.”

Warning Puppy Loans and "Rental" Agreements 

Buyers can be easily misled by the financing language because the store employee did not understand the loan terms or wanted to make the sale by glossing over them. The loans include attractive low monthly payments, yet payments are spread over years making the interest portion seem minimal. Even worse, puppy buyers may end up signing a lease and learn later the lender is holding the puppy as collateral! Learn more 

Families have four options for obtaining refunds, reimbursements or for settling other disputes with puppy stores. 

1. Work directly with the pet store or financing company.

2. Use a mediator such as the Better Business Bureau.  

3. File a civil complaint in small claims court.

4. Find an attorney and file a general civil complaint.
Most disputes can be handled directly through the pet store or financing company, however, if puppy buyers choose this option, unfortunately, the store will continue to sell sick puppies to the next family. My organization encourages families to speak with the Haas & Goldstein (Farmington Hills) law firm for advice. They may discover a pattern of behavior that could help end the misleading practices.  

How to file a complaint against a pet store and their veterinarian 

Families who have purchased a sick pet from a pet store or breeder should notify the authorities and licensing agencies.  Learn more… 

Use ordinances to keep puppy mill dogs out of Michigan

For civic leaders who wish to protect families in their community, Michigan Friends of Companion Animals, a state-wide coalition, is recommending a model ordinance prohibiting the retail sale of certain pets, and instead, encourage business models that include non-profit animal rescues and shelters to showcase adoptable animals.

The ordinance is called the Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal and can be downloaded from the coalition’swebsite

Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan is a grassroots organization dedicated to ending commercial breeding "puppy mills" and protecting families from puppy peddlers, pet stores and bad breeders by lobbying for stronger laws, setting up information booths, completing research studies and launching pet store campaigns. 

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