Challenging the Sale of Puppy Mill Dogs – Barkworks Class Action
Chelsea Vancleve v Chien Et Chat, Inc.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a class action lawsuit against pet store chain Barkworks, on behalf of puppy purchasers harmed by the company’s illegal and deceptive practices in selling puppy mill dogs.
In 2014, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Barkworks, a Southern California pet store chain with six locations. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of several puppy purchasers tricked by Barkworks into purchasing sick puppies sourced from puppy mills.
The lawsuit alleged that Barkworks orchestrated a long-running scheme to defraud unsuspecting consumers by misrepresenting the health and origins of its puppies. Barkworks’ illegal business practices included misrepresenting puppy mills as “reputable” breeders, providing inaccurate breeder license numbers and addresses, fabricating breeding certificates, and lying about providing veterinary care to the fragile animals.
Purchasers learned Barkworks’ representations were false when their new puppies immediately fell seriously ill, and when they began researching the source of their puppies and discovered their mill origins. The action, filed in Orange County Superior Court, alleged that Barkworks’ representations and actions violated California consumer protection law.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund amended its complaint in 2015 to make it a punative class action on behalf of a class of Barkworks puppy purchasers, after uncovering documents detailing the widespread nature of Barkworks’ deception, and hearing story after story of heartbroken purchasers who had to rush their new puppies to the vet just days or even hours after bringing them home.
Despite the court preventing the case from going forward as a class action, in 2018 the parties reached a mutually agreeable settlement.
By that time, Barkworks had taken down the misleading in-store signs and closed four of its six retail stores, and the California legislature had passed a law banning the sale of dogs from commercial breeders. Barkworks remaining two stores are likely to close by January 1, 2019 when the law goes into effect.
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