A class action alleging that Petland Inc. and PAWSitive Solutions Inc. conspired to sell pets that were not as healthy as advertised was dismissed from federal court.
Lead plaintiff, Rosalba Cisneros, alleged in her class action lawsuit that the Shih Tzu puppy, Giant, she purchased from Petland was not healthy, but was certified as such when she purchased him.
Additionally, alleges the plaintiff, she was required under contract to get vet services through PAWSitive, but the service provided did not meet the standard of care and failed to diagnose the deadly virus that led to her dog’s death.
The Petland class action lawsuit’s allegations that Petland, PAWSitive, and related companies violated racketeering laws were dealt a blow by a federal judge who dismissed the claims.
While sympathizing with the plaintiff, U.S. District Court Judge Mark H. Cohen found that the alleged agreement between the defendants did not rise to the level of racketeering.
“If the allegations in her complaint with respect to the treatment of Giant by defendants are true, they are an affront to all pet owners, pet lovers, and any standard of decency,” stated the judge in his order. However, “Cisneros has failed to plead any actions taken by defendants that look any different from Petland’s ordinary operation of its business,” the order concluded.
Judge Cohen dismissed the Petland class action lawsuit’s federal claims and declined to address the state law claims, dismissing them without prejudice.
The plaintiff, who is represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, says that Petland and its parent company, BKG, are known for buying animals from puppy and kitten mills.
“The Complaint alleges that Petland and the BKG Defendants purchase animals from ‘known puppy and kitten mills’ at nominal prices, roughly $50 to $200 per puppy,” noted the judge’s order. “These mills ‘operate like an assembly line in which breeders maximize profits by producing the largest possible number of puppies and kittens with little to no regard for [their] health and welfare.’”
Cisneros also alleged that Petland and PAWSitive entered into agreements to “rubber stamp” pets as healthy when they really are not, often suffering from deadly viruses that don’t manifest until they are brought home by their new owners.
“Petland has a specific protocol for the treatment and sale of sick animals, which the franchisees are required to follow,” alleged the Petland class action lawsuit. “Petland, its franchisees, and its employees are incentivized financially to make any representation necessary to guarantee the sale of an animal, no matter how sick it may be.”
Cisneros is represented by Michael I. Fistel Jr., William W. Stone and David A. Weisz of Johnson Fistel LLP, Jessica J. Sleater of Andersen Sleater Sianni LLC, and Kelsey Rinehart Eberly and Anthony T. Eliseuson of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The Petland Fraudulent Health Certification Class Action Lawsuit is Cisneros v. Petland Inc., et al., Case No. 1:17-cv-02828, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
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