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Expensive Pets: Scammer Sells Badly Behaved Puppies as Highly Trained Service Dogs

  • Virginia AG Mark Herring reached a settlement with service dog company Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, Inc. and its owner (collectively “SDWR”) to resolve allegations that it misled consumers about the skills, training, and abilities of its purported service dogs, among other things, in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law.
  • The complaint alleged that SDWR charged between $18,000 and $27,000 for dogs marketed as service dogs, such as diabetic alert dogs, autism service dogs, and seizure response dogs, but in reality it often sold poorly trained puppies that did not have the requisite training and skills to perform the duties of a service dog. The complaint also alleges that SDWR misled consumers about the financing terms of their purchase and solicited contributions without appropriate registration, among other things.
  • Under the terms of the consent judgment, SDWR is subject to a judgment of over $3 million, including approximately $514,000 for consumer restitution, $1.4 million to the Commonwealth as trustee for the benefit of charitable organizations, $822,500 in civil money penalties, and $279,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. The judgment will be partially suspended, and SDWR’s owner will only pay $40,000 toward consumer restitution provided he complies with the judgment’s injunctive relief, which includes lifetime bans on soliciting charitable donations and being involved with any entity that works with companion or agricultural animals, among other things.