Attorney General James Secures Relief for Consumers Who Were Tricked Into Purchasing Sick Pets

Attorney General James Secures Relief for Consumers Who Were Tricked Into Purchasing Sick Pets

The pet area provided incomplete medical records for pets to hide past illnesses

The company will pay up to $200,000 to eligible consumers for medical costs

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today reached a settlement with Bell Pet Company, LLC (Bell Pet), doing business as Pet Zone and its owners for defrauding consumers about pet health that were sold to New Yorkers. Today’s settlement requires Bell Pet to pay a civil penalty and establish a restitution fund of up to $200,000 to reimburse eligible consumers for medical costs. Pet Zone, which has stores in Albany, Poughkeepsie, Watertown and Queensbury, misled customers about the health of the pets they purchased by providing incomplete medical information.

“Scamming families into buying sick puppies and kittens is not only cruel, it’s illegal,” said Attorney General James. “Pet Zone turned a happy moment of bringing a new pet home into misery for pet owners when they discovered their pet was sick and had to pay expensive medical bills to help them recover . This agreement will ensure that no one is misled about the health of the pet they bring home. I encourage any individual who has purchased a pet from The Pet Zone and been misled about their health to file a claim for a refund.”

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that Pet Zone provided consumers with misleading medical information that did not include a full list of medications provided to pets to hide pre-existing illnesses. Pet Zone offered consumers an online tracking system called “PetKey,” which the defendants claimed included a complete list of all medications given to the pet prior to purchase. ZAP found that in some cases, PetKey did not list medications, including antibiotics, provided to pets and after the pets were brought home, they became ill.

Today’s settlement requires Pet Zone to establish a refund fund of up to $200,000 to reimburse eligible consumers who purchased a pet on or after January 2014 and within 14 days of purchase received a certificate from a veterinarian that their pet was diseased and should not have been unfit for sale. Eligible consumers will be reimbursed for their veterinary costs related to vet certification and treatment for illness up to the total cost of the pet, including taxes. The fund will be available to every eligible customer for 12 months. In addition, Zona Pet must pay $2,500 in fines to the state.

As part of the settlement, within the next 30 days, Pet Zone will be required to post information about filing claims to anyone it believes may be eligible to request a refund. In the meantime, if New Yorkers have questions about this settlement, they are encouraged to contact OAG’s Watertown regional office at (315) 523-6080.

The agreement also requires Pet Zone to ensure that each pet has been examined by a licensed veterinarian and received all vaccinations as required by state and local law with accurate and complete records provided to consumers. Additionally, Pet Zone is required to train its employees and prominently warn consumers of the requirements of the Pet Lemon Law. Pet Area must identify a corporate point of contact for all Pet Lemon Law claims.

“I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for her efforts to hold Pet Zone accountable for defrauding customers about the health records of the pets they sold,” said state Sen. Neil Breslin. “Bringing a pet home is supposed to be an exciting time for any person or family. Misleading consumers about the health of the pets they were buying is unconscionable and I’m glad Pet Zone is facing the consequences of their actions.”

“I thank Attorney General Letitia James for once again standing up for New York consumers and ensuring that customers who bought or bought their pets at Pet Zone and later discovered undiagnosed medical conditions will have the opportunity to seek reimbursement.” said Assembly member Patricia Fahy. “Just as New York acted to end the retail sale of pets, dogs and rabbits this year in pet stores, we will continue to hold this industry accountable where necessary. Remember: adopt, don’t shop.”

“Instead of providing these vulnerable pets with the proper medical care they needed, Bell Pet put profits before morality by passing the buck to unsuspecting consumers. Not only does this type of greedy behavior endanger animals who may not receive the medications they need, but it is also another unfair cost that many working families simply cannot afford,” said Daniel P. McCoy, Albany County Executive. ” While I’m glad we have the Pet Lemon Law on the books to protect dogs and cats, I’m even happier that we have a fighter like Attorney General James to enforce these rules and hold bad actors accountable. “

“When our neighbors buy a pet, they hope to bring love and joy to their family, yet these families are saddled with unexpected medical bills and the misplaced guilt associated with thinking they did something wrong to make the pet sick. housekeeper,” said Albany. Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “It is disgusting that someone would sell sick pets, especially when it is a pet store with multiple locations across our state. Thank you, Attorney General James, for holding these despicable organizations accountable and for helping our neighbors who were targeted by their malicious business practices.”

“We thank the Office of the Attorney General for their efforts to protect New York State consumers,” said Warren County Administrator John Taflan.

“Poughkeepsie families, and all New Yorkers, deserve to know that when they buy a pet and bring a new companion animal into their lives, that new family member is healthy,” said Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor Jon Jay Baisley. “Unexpected vet bills take a real toll on a family’s finances, but they pale in comparison to the emotional toll a sick pet takes on children and families. I thank Attorney General James for standing up for New York families and making sure they can again have confidence that the animals they buy are healthy and safe.”

This agreement builds on Attorney General James’ past efforts to protect New York consumers and companion animals. In December 2021, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against pet store Shake A Paw for illegally selling numerous sick or injured puppies to unwitting consumers at both of its Long Island locations. Attorney General James also successfully secured a court order to protect the puppies at both Shake A Paw locations. Last December, New York State took action to further protect companion animals when Governor Hochul signed legislation seeking to end the puppy store pipeline and stop abusive breeders.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Julia Toce of the Watertown Regional Office with investigative assistance from Supervising Investigator Chad Shelmidine of the Watertown Regional Office. The Watertown Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Deanna R. Nelson and is part of the Regional Affairs Division, which is headed by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber. The Regional Affairs Division is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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