“Puppy Laundering” Scheme Violates California Law

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the Animal Kingdom pet store and purported rescue group Bark Adoptions for unlawfully circumventing the California law that bans the retail sale of dogs.


October 17, 2022

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Finalized settlement

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the Animal Kingdom pet store and purported rescue group Bark Adoptions for engaging in a puppy laundering scheme to unlawfully circumvent the California law that bans the sale of dogs from commercial breeders, commonly called puppy mills.

Animal Kingdom sells 8-week-old purebred and designer puppies for over $2,000. The pet store obtains these puppies from Bark Adoptions, an organization that purports to be a rescue but is allegedly engaging in “puppy laundering” on behalf of commercial breeders, and then providing those puppies to Animal Kingdom.

“Rescue groups” are defined under the law as nonprofits that do not obtain animals from breeders or brokers for compensation. As the Animal Legal Defense Fund argues in this lawsuit, Bark Adoptions does not meet this definition. This scheme therefore violates California law and constitutes an unfair business practice.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? Animal Kingdom and Bark Adoptions, under California Health & Safety Code section 122354.5 which prohibits pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits unless they are sourced from a rescue, shelter or public animal control agency.

What court is the lawsuit filed in? California Superior Court for San Luis Obispo County.

Why this case is important: Retail pet sales bans are important means of combating puppy mills and their deplorable practices, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund is committed to ensuring these laws are enforced.

The term “puppy mill” generally refers to a large-scale commercial dog-breeding facility where the emphasis is on profits over the welfare of the dogs. The goal of puppy mills is to produce the largest number of puppies as quickly as possible, without adequate regard for animal care.

The dogs are generally kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions. They often lack good food, clean water, and veterinary care. The mother “breeder” dogs may give birth to multiple litters per year throughout her adult life. They, and aging father dogs, will regularly be abandoned or killed when they are no longer “useful” to their breeders.

As a result of the breeding practices of puppy mills, it is common for puppy mill dogs to suffer from genetic and hereditary conditions and deadly diseases. Additionally, many puppy mill dogs experience behavioral and psychological problems throughout their lives from lack of early socialization and being weaned too young.

Puppy mill dogs also compete with stray and abandoned dogs in animal shelters. It is estimated that 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in animal shelters throughout the United States.

No More Puppy Mills

Puppy mill operators maximize their profits by producing large numbers of puppies as quickly as possible. As a result, unsanitary conditions, disease, and neglect are rampant. Sign our pledge to boycott puppy mills. Together we can end this cruel industry.

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