Challenging a Florida Kitten Breeder’s Cruelty and Fraud
Rozetti v. Adorable Stars
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Orlando-based kitten breeder and seller, Adorable Stars, for practicing veterinary medicine without a license, animal cruelty and neglect, and contract and tort claims.
Defendants to Answer Complaint
On February 1, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of defrauded kitten purchasers against Orlando-based kitten breeder and seller, Adorable Stars for attempts from the owner to practice veterinary medicine without a license, animal cruelty and neglect, and contract and tort claims.
Adorable Stars is owned and operated by Elena Combelic and her son, Zakhar. The kitten mill houses an estimated 55 kittens and adult cats. Kittens sold by Adorable Stars have been found covered in ringworm, fleas, and parasites while also suffering from upper respiratory infections and feline panleukopenia, among other ailments. In one instance, Combelic attempted a crude “veterinary” procedure, administering antibiotic injections into one plaintiff’s kitten’s leg, leading to an abscess — a mass of pus that collects in tissues — that later ruptured.
The lawsuit seeks to shut down the breeding operation permanently, hold the owner accountable for animal neglect and cruelty under Florida law, and secure financial relief for three kitten purchaser plaintiffs who have been left with thousands of dollars in damages, severe emotional stress, and physical injuries.
The types of kittens sold include Scottish Fold, British Shorthair, and Maine Coon kittens. Recently, Adorable Stars appears to have expanded into dogs (Samoyed & Pomsky-Mini Husky), and potentially Serval & Savannah cats.
The lawsuit was filed together with the law firm Baker Donelson.
Who is being sued, why, and under what law? Adorable Stars and its owners and operators Elena Combelic and Zakhar Varentsov, for attempts to practice veterinary medicine without a license, animal cruelty and neglect, and contract and tort claims.
What court is the lawsuit filed in? Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in and for Orange County, Florida.
Why this case is important: Just like puppy mills, a kitten mill aims to produce the largest number of baby animals as quickly as possible, without adequate regard for animal care. Unscrupulous kitten breeders and sellers harm animals and cause families grave financial and emotional harm. Kitten mills also compete with stray and abandoned cats in animal shelters. It is estimated that 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in animal shelters throughout the United States.
An Act Protecting the Health and Safety of Puppies and Kittens in Cities and Towns, would protect animals and consumers by banning the sale of puppies and kittens under 8 weeks of age; prohibiting the sale of animals in parking lots, flea markets, and similar venues; and updating rules governing commercial kennels, among other improvements.October 7, 2021 Action Alert
An Act Enhancing the Issuance of Citations for Cruel Conditions for Animals (H.1840/S.1097) would allow law enforcement officers to issue civil citations to people who keep domestic animals, including cats, rabbits, farmed animals, in cruel conditions, allowing intervention before circumstances escalate. Urge your legislators to support this bill.June 10, 2021 Action Alert
A Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) bill, S.2868/A.4533, which would allow law students and volunteer lawyers to advocate for animal victims in cruelty criminal cases, unanimously passed the New Jersey Senate. The bill is sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and endorsed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.February 19, 2021 Press Release
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