Challenging a Florida Kitten Breeder’s Cruelty and Fraud

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.

Updated

February 1, 2021

Work Type

Litigation

Status

Active

Next Step

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.

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Location:

Florida

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