VIRGINIA (ABC NEWS)-A dog breeder has been accused of selling untrained puppies for $25,000 and posing them as service dogs, according to a lawsuit filed by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
The company, Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, “represents itself as a nonprofit organization devoted to raising, training and placing service dogs with individuals who have ‘invisible disabilities,'” such as diabetes, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder and seizure disorders, according to the lawsuit, filed in a Madison County circuit court on Monday. Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers hadn’t responded to the complaint as of Wednesday evening, according to online Madison County court records.
Families seeking service dogs from the company are told that if they raise $25,000 for the nonprofit, they will receive a trained diabetic alert dog that will “save their or their family members’ lives by identifying and alerting them to blood sugar fluctuations that could become life threatening,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions Law. Herring seeks a permanent injunction against further violations by the company and its owner, reimbursement to consumers, along with civil fines and penalties.
The dogs are advertised to be able to detect high and low blood sugar, get help in the form of “third party support,” retrieve food and medication and dial 911 on a special device, according to the lawsuit.
Instead, “hopeful and vulnerable consumers” actually received dogs that were poorly trained, ill-behaved and “not equipped to help them manage a life-threatening disability,” the lawsuit states, describing the dogs as “little more than expensive pets.”
Customers were supposed to receive dogs that were housebroken and had undergone obedience training and some scent training, but they actually received untrained puppies that needed basic obedience training for walking on a leash, inappropriate chewing and responding to their name, according to the lawsuit.
The dogs that customers received would also frequently bark or whine, jump on people or other dogs, strain against the leash or show “significant fear” at loud noises, such as storms, fireworks or cars backfiring, the lawsuit states.