Suing Unscrupulous Puppy Traffickers Who Knowingly Sold Sick Dogs

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the Kenney family seeking to end their deceptive marketing and sale of puppies, and to recover damages for those who were victimized by the puppy traffickers’ unscrupulous conduct.


November 1, 2023

Work Type




Next Step

Waiting on final judgement

Update: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge issued a decision finding that Craigslist puppy traffickers committed animal neglect and fraud by selling fatally sick dogs to families. Read the press release and statement of decision.

On December 18, 2019, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Trina, Rick, Elijah, and Jezriel Kenney — Trina and Rick are husband and wife; Elijah and Jezriel are their adult children — on behalf of nine plaintiffs who purchased underage and sick puppies from the family, and Caru Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The lawsuit seeks to end the puppy traffickers’ cruel treatment and deceptive marketing and sale of puppies, and to recover damages for those who were victimized by the family’s unscrupulous and illegal conduct.

For years, the Kenney family has defrauded consumers in Southern California by misrepresenting the health, age, and breed of puppies sold through Craigslist and other sites on the internet, dyeing underage puppies and faking immunization records in order to bolster the fictitious marketing.

This scheme has allowed the puppy traffickers to reap enormous profits — while those tricked into purchasing sick, too-young puppies have been personally devastated by their dogs’ health problems and saddled with enormous veterinary bills. Many of the puppies have died due to diseases concealed by the Kenneys and caused by the Kenneys’ failure to provide needed vaccines and veterinary care.

In most cases, the plaintiffs learned shortly after purchasing their puppies and bonding with them that the representations made by the Kenneys about the puppies were false. The puppies were sick, unvaccinated, younger than advertised, and often dyed a different color, with hair dye that washed off in the sink when the plaintiffs went to bathe their sick pets. In many cases, the puppies were also a different breed and sex than the Kenneys advertised.

The puppies the Kenneys used and abused to further their scheme suffered terribly, while the plaintiffs and their families paid an enormous financial and emotional toll because of the Kenneys’ conduct.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law?
Trina, Rick, Elijah, and Jezriel Kenney, for violating multiple California laws including the Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and animal cruelty laws.

Why this case is important:

The Kenneys’ illegal behavior is a particularly egregious example of the commodification and abuse of commercially bred companion animals. Despite increased public awareness, puppy mills and the sale of commercially bred puppies, who are often physically sick and psychologically unwell due to the poor conditions in which they are bred and kept, continue to plague communities across the nation. The goal of puppy mills and puppy brokers is to produce and sell the largest number of puppies as quickly as possible, without consideration of the health or well-being of the animals.

The Animal Legal Defense is working across the country and using multiple legal channels to combat puppy mills.

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