cat and dog

Press Release

CONSUMER ALERT: Pet Stores are No Place for Holiday Shopping

Class Action Lawsuit Serves as a Warning for Would-Be Puppy Purchasers


LOS ANGELES –The holiday season is already in full gear and the Animal Legal Defense Fund has a message for those considering a puppy as a gift: do your research. The sad reality is that pet stores still receive their supply of puppies mainly through puppy mills. Puppy mills are breeding facilities that treat puppies as cash crops instead of living, feeling animals, employing horrendous standards of care for the mother dogs and producing sick animals prone to illness, injury, genetic and behavioral problems. No matter how cute that puppy in the window is, you do not want to support puppy mills this holiday season. An ongoing lawsuit against southern California pet store chain Barkworks alleges the store works hard to hide the awful truth about the puppies they peddle.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, is representing aggrieved consumers as Plaintiffs in a putative class action lawsuit against Barkworks for the company’s pattern and practice of misleading purchasers about the health and source of their puppies. The Plaintiffs, on behalf of thousands of consumers, claim they were led to believe by Barkworks that they were bringing home a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder when, in reality, Barkworks routinely sources from puppy mills whom have been cited by the USDA for violations, and its medical, transport and sanitary protocols do little to protect the health of these fragile young puppies. As a result, the Plaintiffs allege, many consumers were deceived into purchasing puppies from deplorable puppy mills and these puppies faced numerous medical problems upon purchase. On Nov. 14 the Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification in Orange County Superior Court, Complex Division, before Judge Thierry Colaw, arguing the lawsuit should proceed as a class action because the Plaintiffs represent tens of thousands of fellow puppy purchasers exposed to Barkworks’ harmful misrepresentations and business practices in similar ways. Nearly every week, additional puppy purchasers come forward with tragically familiar stories.

These purchasers have suffered financially and emotionally, spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on veterinary care for their new puppies, and watching the animals struggle with illnesses and even die of their diseases within a matter of months or a few years. Plaintiffs will file their reply brief in support of their motion for class certification just before Christmas, with a hearing set for January 27, 2017.

“People considering buying a dog this holiday season can avoid supporting puppy mills by rescuing a companion from a shelter instead,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “This holiday season, remember that a puppy is a lifetime companion and commitment, not a cute gift in a store window.”

Consumers who purchased a dog from Barkworks are encouraged to contact the Animal Legal Defense Fund at or 707-795-2533.