Class Action Suit Filed Against “Barkworks” Claims Pet Stores Deceived Consumers About Selling Dogs from Puppy Mills

Posted on September 29, 2011

Southern California Chain in Legal Doghouse for Allegations of False Advertising, Fraud for Misleading Customers about Their Ties to Abusive Puppy Mills

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Barbara Williamson, Best Friends Animal Society

Los Angeles – This morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed suit in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County against Barkworks, a Southern California pet store chain, claiming the stores repeatedly engage in fraud and false advertising in an effort to conceal from customers that they source their puppies from abusive “puppy mills”–large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities. Numerous individual plaintiffs from throughout Southern California report purchasing extremely sick puppies from one of Barkworks’ six retail locations, despite being given warranties that the animals were “fit for sale” and “not ill.”

Barkworks signsWhat’s more, the lawsuit claims the stores have a demonstrated pattern of misleading customers about where their puppies come from. According to the suit, on multiple occasions, the name of the breeder and the USDA breeder number disclosed in sales contracts were inaccurate or incorrect–making it impossible for customers to confirm Barkworks’ claims that their puppies come from “reputable breeders.” Further, some plaintiffs claim they were assured explicitly by Barkworks employees that puppies did not come from puppy mills. In fact, today’s class action suit alleges that purchasing puppies from unsanitary and mass-producing facilities is standard business practice at Barkworks.

Consumers have good reason to be concerned about puppy mills, which often house hundreds of puppies and dogs in extremely close conditions lacking adequate food, water, socialization with other puppies, and veterinary care. Dogs from puppy mills are more likely to suffer from infectious diseases and are more prone to develop serious veterinary conditions including hip dysplasia, heart and kidney disease, and respiratory disorders. For almost three years, Best Friends Animal Society staff and volunteers, who gathered the damning evidence against the chain, have been holding peaceful demonstrations every weekend at most of the Barkworks locations in order to inform shoppers that puppies in the stores are coming from puppy mills, primarily high volume facilities in the Midwest, many of which have multiple USDA violations.

“Barkworks has misrepresented the breeding history and health of its puppies in order to convince customers to purchase them, resulting in large profits for their business–and heartbreak for countless dogs and their adoptive families,” says ALDF Director of Litigation Carter Dillard. “It is time for the court to intervene to stop Barkworks’ blatant and illegal deceptive practices, and to provide restitution to the consumers whom they have victimized.”

ALDF is being represented in this matter by lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

11 thoughts on “Class Action Suit Filed Against “Barkworks” Claims Pet Stores Deceived Consumers About Selling Dogs from Puppy Mills

  1. Chelsea says:

    I would love to be a part of this. I bought a dog from therre who was diagnosed with Pulmonary lung disease. If I can be of any help, contact me at

    Thank you for standing up to those puppy bullys.

  2. Donna Rodner says:

    I was happy to have read about the class action suit filed against “Barkworks”. Hopefully this lawsuit will be won and it will take precedent for other pet stores. The need of evidence and consumer support is vital. I wish the attorneys and the consumers much success.

  3. jeremy says:

    Reading this makes me have hope.all puppy mills and catterys need to be shut down!!the owners of these mills need to be in prision.when is our government going to give us what we want?we want the same rights for animals that we have.theres no need for animal suffering.greed will be the death of this world.we all need to protect our animals!!every person i talk to feels the same way,the people in government need to act today.we will respect our government alot more after they stop this crazy,insane animal abuse.its the sickest thing ive ever seen in my life.look at the videos on youtube,search animal shelters and puppy mills,it will change your life forever.

  4. L. Greenfield says:

    I bout a puppy from Barkworks, (on July 5, 2010 in Thousand Oaks) only after being assured that he was NOT from a puppy mill. I haven’t received any information about a class action lawsuit personally, just what I’ve heard on the news. I also received registration papers so late that I would have been required to pay a late fee in order to register him. I did not register him, because of this extortion. Please make sure I am included in any lawsuit, because even though I love my dog, I hate being deceived.

  5. Stephanie says:

    You realize the term cattery has nothing to do with the same meaning as a puppy mill, right? A cattery is similar to the term for breeders of birds, aviary, or guinea pigs, caviary. None of which refer the same conditions as a puppy mill. When it comes to cats hoarders don’t tend to let them go and then you see a lot of horrible conditions and pets that aren’t fixed, but a responsible cat breeder who only has a litter or two a year and a few cats and shows them and takes care of them should not be thrown into the same pool as a puppy mill.

  6. Barbara says:

    I don’t know the update or current status of this lawsuit, but I was quite upset when I visited a facility I can’t believe is still in business! They had a German Shepherd 3 1/2 mo’s old alone in the front window – hadn’t eaten his food and didn’t look like he had water. So it isn’t just the puppy mill issue, they aren’t being responsible while the puppies are in their care from what I can tell. A German Shepherd in my opinion, should not be in a space that size for any amount of time. I asked where the dogs went at night and was told they stayed in the “boxes” just like people who crate their dogs. But they don’t get to get out and run? I hope so, especially the large dogs.

    AND what happens if they get too big and are not sold??

    Very upsetting! Don’t want to purchase this dog to perpetuate this practice, not to mention the mark up so the store can make a profit over and above the breeder, for a living breathing animal!

  7. Teri Porter says:

    Yikes, I am guilty of buying a pug from this store. And yes I was assured he was from only the best, humane, top notch breeder. He’s the love of my life but now that I’m more educated on the topic I’m horrified thinking his poor mother is still locked in a cage mass producing! I want to check him paperwork now and see if its legit!! If not am I able to file suit?

  8. doglover says:

    Any Retail Pet shop that sells LIVE ANIMALS is guilty of these offensive practices. I am a long time breeder of dogs and I can tell you without a doubt that any breeder who cares about their dogs would never ‘wholesale puppies’ and not know where they end up. People need to open their eyes and do their homework…

  9. Hkylvr says:

    I recently rescued a dog from this pet store chain, I did not pay one cent for her. The owner knew i had the same breed of dog and they were concerned that she was getting too big to be kenneled in their facility so they called me. There are a lot of negative comments about these stores, regardless of where they came from they still deserve good families to adopt them. I have rescued dogs from the pound, privately ran breed specific rescues and from pet stores and have always had issues with the pups. It really does not matter where you get them from, unless its a private breeder you will have the same or similar experience. Dogs and cats are over bread for profit and that is the real issue. Unless consumers stop wanting companion pets there will be no significant end to the overbreeding issue. So my position is to help save rescue as many as I can and give them safe loving families to grow old with and anyone who loves animals as much as I do should do the same,
    Remember there are just as many back yard breeders contributing to this problem as puppy mills. All laws regarding animal breeding need to be changed, lets focus on that and in the meantime help as many of these innocent victims as possible.

  10. Melissa Klaskin says:

    I just received another heart wrenching plea for money from the HSUS showing a sick and starving breeder dog being rescued from his “tomb.” These rescues are great but there has to be more action done at the legislative level to shut these placed down once and for all. Maybe these horrifying rescue videos should be played before congress and then there will be some action. Americans have a love/hate relationship with dogs!! Melissa Klaskin

  11. Sarah says:

    As of December of 2012, Barkworks is still operating in West Los Angeles, and they are NOT selling “rescue” dogs. It broker my heart to see those poor, distressed puppies in those cages.

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