Cuomo Busts Puppy Salesmen


     MINEOLA (CN) - Queens-based pet dealers use bait-and-switch tactics to sell unfit dogs, and violate charities law by "purport(ing) to engage in animal rescue activities," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says.
     Cuomo says the husband and wife's two businesses, Imported Quality Guard Dogs and the Animal Rescue Unit, "engage in deceptive business practices and false advertising" and violate "the Pet Lemon Law."
     Defendants Robin Schulder and her husband, Perry Reich, falsely claim to be dog breeders, make "numerous misrepresentations" about their animals, and falsify health records of the dogs, Cuomo says. He adds that Schulder practices as a veterinarian without a license, and makes improper use of the title "veterinarian technician."
     Cuomo says his office has received 13 complaints against the couple and their companies. Consumers also have complained to the New York Better Business Bureau, the agriculture department and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
     The couple operates more than a dozen Web sites that lure consumers with empty promises, such as "all our babies are born in our home," according to the complaint.
     The sites list puppies with pictures, names, weight, sex, age, price and availability, but Schulder delivers a "markedly different" dog, according to the complaint.
     Despite their claims, Cuomo says, the couple resells dogs they bought from third parties.
     "Numerous customers purchased animals that suffered from illnesses ranging from parvo, coccidian, mange, acute respiratory infection, pneumonia and life-threatening hypoglycemia," according to the complaint.
     Some consumers pay up to $3,000 in veterinary bills "trying to nurse the animals back to health," but one dog died and two had to be euthanized because of severe medical issues, according to the attorney general.
     Cuomo says the couple delivers dogs with visible defects, including deformed limbs and blindness, as well as signs of illness such as coughing, sneezing, bloody stool or vomiting.
     When consumers demand reimbursement for veterinary care or try to return a puppy, Cuomo says, Schulder becomes verbally abusive, "lashing out at them with vicious obscenities, and blaming them for their dogs' illnesses or death."
     Cuomo says that Schulder once answered the door holding a large kitchen knife, and when a veterinarian diagnosed a puppy with congenital blindness, Schulder insisted that the consumer had dropped the puppy on its head.
     Cuomo adds that one of their Web sites claims: "'Some of our puppies are imported from our family-owned kennel in Europe.' This is an outright lie. Respondents do not have a family-owned kennel in Europe."
     They claim their "No-Kill Animal Shelter" has rescued dogs throughout New York's five boroughs and has "over 2,000 supporters and donators," but Cuomo says they "have been unable, however, to produce any records whatsoever identifying any dogs they have rescued, and admit that their 'animal rescue charity,' the Animal Rescue Unit Inc., is inactive."
     Cuomo seeks an injunction, accounting, restitution and civil penalties.