Local pet store named in ‘puppy laundering’ lawsuit

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A Central Coast pet store with multiple locations has been named in a lawsuit claiming an ongoing ‘puppy laundering scheme’.

The lawsuit filed Monday by Volar Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Bailing Out Benji alleges that Bark Adoptions and Animal Kingdom Pet Shop are violating California’s ban on puppy mills.

State law, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows pet stores to sell cats, dogs and rabbits only if they come from a rescue organization.

Lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court says Bark Adoptions and Rescue Pets, an Iowa organization, is “engaged in a puppy laundering program” to supply puppies to pet stores in California, including Animal Kingdom .

Animal Kingdom, which operates in Santa Maria, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach, sells a variety of animals, including dogs. They get some of their dogs from Bark Adoptions.

The lawsuit states, “Bark Adoptions poses as a non-profit animal rescue organization, even though it actually acquires purebred and designer puppies who are only a few weeks old from puppy mills, including Rescue Pets Iowa Corp., then forwards those puppies to for-profit pet stores.

Last week, as part of a KSBY News investigation, we reported that San Luis Obispo County Animal Services also raised concerns with Animal Kingdom regarding the 501 C-3 status of bark adoptions. . KSBY’s investigation and a similar report from ABC 10 News in San Diego are referenced in the lawsuit.

On Monday, the county said it had received documents from Animal Kingdom, but it would take several days to review all the documents provided. However, Animal Services took no action against the pet store while it investigated the viability of these records.

Under the new California law, pet stores that cannot provide proof of nonprofit status could be fined $500 per dog.

We have contacted Animal Kingdom regarding the lawsuit, but have yet to receive a response. Several previous attempts to call the owner regarding county concerns were not returned.

To read the full trial, click here.

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