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Local pet store named as part of a ‘puppy laundering’ lawsuit

Posted at 9:47 AM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 13:23:37-05

A Central Coast pet shop with several locations has been named as part of a lawsuit claiming an on-going “puppy laundering scheme.”

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

The state law, which took effect January 1, allows pet stores to sell cats, dogs and rabbits only if they are from a rescue organization.

The lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court says Bark Adoptions and Rescue Pets, an organization from Iowa, are “engaged in a puppy laundering scheme” to provide 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 receive some of their dogs from Bark Adoptions.

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

Last week, as part of a KSBY News investigation, we reported San Luis Obispo County Animal Services also raised concerns to Animal Kingdom regarding the 501 C-3 status of Bark Adoptions. KSBY’s investigation and a similar report by ABC 10 News in San Diego are mentioned in the suit.

On Monday, the county said it had received documents from Animal Kingdom but that it would take several days to vet all of the provided documentation. However, Animal Services was not taking any action against the pet store while it was reviewing the viability of those documents.

Under the new California law, pet stores that can’t provide proof of non-profit status could be fined $500 per dog.

We have reached out to Animal Kingdom regarding the lawsuit but have not yet heard back. Multiple previous attempts to call the owner regarding the county concerns have not been returned.

To read the complete lawsuit, click here.

Previous related story: Closing the pet shop loophole