Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, Inc. is being sued for allegedly selling 3-month-old Labrador Retriever puppies for highly trained services at $18,000 to $27,000 per pup. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark R. Herring says that the puppies are “little more than incredibly expensive pets.” Fittingly, the company has attorney John B. Russell, Jr. to defend it. It is not clear if being a Jack Russell gave him an edge in taking the case.
Virginia says that the puppies were not even able to walk on leashes, let alone perform specific tasks. It noted that customers complained that there was no support when they asked for the promised “scent training” support or raised the problematic behavior of the dogs (which are supposed to stay calm around noises or people). In other words, they say that they received simple puppies.
Some 50 customers have complained and Herring said “Our investigation shows that, in many instances, Service Dogs was simply selling a $25,000 pet, leaving customers with a huge bill and no protection against a potentially life-threatening blood-sugar situation.”
Owner Charles D. Warren Jr. is also accused of illegally encouraged customers to solicit charitable donations and lying about his own background, particularly his military service. The state accuses Warren of lying about serving in the Marines and training military dogs.
The lawsuit filed in Madison County Circuit Court, seeks restitution on behalf of affected consumers, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, and asking the court to block Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers from further violations of the Consumer Protection Act and Solicitation of Contributions law.
The state is also seeking civil penalties of up to $2,500 per willful violation of the Consumer Protection Act and $5,000 per violation of the Solicitation of Contributions law, with the exact number of violations to be determined during trial proceedings.