Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and defendant Jessica Durkin, d/b/a “Prada Puppies,” of Salem, a pet dealer who allegedly sold sick pets to consumers, have reached a $65,634.41 settlement that includes consumer restitution along with civil penalties and legal/investigative cost reimbursements.
“We’re pleased that the affected consumers will be receiving restitution under this settlement,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “We can’t undo the heartache these consumers suffered when their newly-purchased puppies became sick or had to be euthanized, but this settlement includes business practice reforms to ensure that only healthy pets are offered for sale going forward.”
“The Pet Purchase Protection Act and the Pet Purchase Protection regulations require that cats and dogs offered for sale receive an examination from a licensed veterinarian before delivery, as well as disclosure to consumers that this important procedure has been completed,” noted Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Any consumer about to buy a pet should review their rights, as well as the seller’s responsibilities, under this law.”
Five consumers will receive a total of $6,443.72 in restitution for the purchase price and/or veterinary costs incurred for their pets. Of the remaining settlement amount, $58,134.41 in civil penalties and cost reimbursements to the State are suspended for a 30-month period and will be vacated if the settlement terms are not violated.
Under the settlement, Durkin cannot sell a cat or dog within New Jersey without a history and health certificate containing the name and address of the person from whom she purchased the cat or dog; the breeder’s name and address and the litter number; the date Durkin took possession of the cat or dog; the date or dates on which the cat or dog was examined by a veterinarian, along with the findings made and the treatment, if any, taken or given to the cat or dog; the statement of all vaccinations or inoculations administered, including the identity and quantity of the vaccine or inoculum administered; and the date of administration of the vaccinations and inoculations;
The settlement further prohibits Durkin from:
- selling a cat or dog within New Jersey without a history and health certificate containing a 10-point bold-face type “WARNING, ” as required by the Pet Purchase Protection regulations;
- failing to maintain a copy of the history and health certificate signed by the consumer for a period of one year following the date of sale;
- failing to provide consumers with a “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS” statement detailing prior examinations and a “WAIVER OF REEXAMINATION RIGHTS;”
- failing to have purchased cats or dogs examined by a licensed veterinarian at least three days prior to delivery to the consumer;
- refusing to refund consumers’ money after selling them a sick or defective cat or dog;
- refusing to reimburse consumers’ veterinary fees incurred prior to receipt of the veterinarian certification;
- failing to issue to consumers an ”Unfitness of Animal – Election Of Options” form for a cat or dog deemed unfit for purchase; and
- failing to notify the Division of Consumer Affairs no later than five days of receipt of the “Unfitness of Animal – Election Of Options” certificate that the status is contested.
As set forth in the State’s Complaint, Durkin allegedly violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Regulations Governing the Sale of Animals through her sale of puppies that turned out to be sick and in need of expensive veterinary treatment.
Investigator Donna Leslie, of the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection, conducted this investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Alina Wells, of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, represented the State in this matter.
To learn more about the Pet Purchase Protection Act, click here. Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.