A Long Island pet store, with sites in Hicksville and Lynbrook, accused of selling hundreds of seriously ill dogs, has been banned from purchasing or adopting new puppies, according to a court order signed Tuesday.
The order by Nassau Supreme Court Judge Helen Voutsinas, and requested by state Attorney General Letitia James, bans Shake A Paw from acquiring any new animals for resale in New York. Many of the dogs died within weeks of purchase.
The court order allows the pet shop to continue selling puppies they currently have, but only after they are examined by an independent veterinarian appointed by James and found fit for sale. The company must also produce a full inventory of puppies that are already purchased, but not yet sold.
Voutsinas also froze Shake A Paw’s bank accounts, potentially to pay restitution to families who bought puppies at the store that later got sick or died. The company is permitted to continue paying operating costs to care for the animals, along with employee payroll and attorney fees.
"As a result of this court order, Shake A Paw will no longer be able to defraud consumers into purchasing sick or injured puppies," James said. "No family should ever experience the pain of bringing home a sick puppy, and no puppy should endure mistreatment and neglect, which is why we are shutting down the puppy mill pipeline to Shake A Paw."
Last week, James held a news conference in Hicksville, announcing a lawsuit accusing Shake A Paw of selling dogs acquired at poorly maintained puppy mills, fabricating health certificates that misrepresent the animals' health and failing to provide refunds, in violation of the state's Pet Lemon Law.
The suit seeks restitution for Shake A Paw’s "unfair and deceptive conduct" along with civil penalties.
In a statement Tuesday, Shake A Paw said it is "disappointed" that the court imposed restrictions before the company could respond to the lawsuit, which they note relies on 100 customer complaints stemming from roughly 18,000 transactions over the past six years — or half of 1%.
In a statement released by its attorney, Shake A Paw said, "Although it is perfectly understandable that a family will be upset should their puppy become ill, these numbers do not support the attorney general’s allegation that Shake A Paw deliberately or knowingly sold sick puppies, that their in-store veterinary and medical care was deficient, or that the animals were in any way not properly cared for," The statement said, "Puppies are uniquely susceptible to certain illnesses and a small number in any population will catch kennel cough or acquire intestinal parasites."
The attorney general's investigation found Shake A Paw knowingly sold puppies with serious illnesses or congenital defects, despite receiving health certifications signed off on by the company's contracted veterinarians, often days before sale certifying the puppy was in good health.
James' office said it obtained testimony from a veterinarian who worked with Shake A Paw, but ended the relationship because of concerns over the number of sick animals being sold.
Investigators analyzed 408 veterinary records and found that more than half of the puppies sold had breathing problems, coughs, upper respiratory infections or were infected with parasites. Almost 10% were diagnosed with pneumonia, the suit said.
Shake A Paw owners Gerard O'Sullivan and Marc Jacobs are due in court Feb. 9 to answer the allegations.