Seriously- haven't they caused enough suffering?
Broward puppy dealers get $26,500 fine -- and warningA couple who ran a now-shuttered puppy store received a $26,500 fine for flouting state law and were ordered to repay a woman $1,425 for a puppy that died days after she bought it.
BY SUSANNAH BRYAN
A judge on Tuesday fined puppy dealers Jim and Gilda Anderson $26,500 -- about a third of their profits -- for violating a settlement agreement and the state's pet lemon law.
``I think the order was fair,'' said attorney Roberto Stanziale, who has represented the Andersons since hearings began in May. ``The judge did the right thing. He didn't shut them down.''
The former owners of the shuttered Wizard of Claws pet store must allow inspections of their Davie home to ensure the puppies they are selling are healthy. They also must reimburse a Fort Lauderdale woman the $1,425 she spent on a Maltese puppy that died five days after she bought it in February.
In his ruling Tuesday, Broward Circuit Judge Robert Rosenberg ordered the Andersons to sell only healthy puppies and to use a sales contract that complies with Florida's pet lemon law.
Under state law, consumers can return or exchange a pet within 14 days of purchase if a licensed veterinarian finds it unfit for sale because of illness, disease or parasites. The same applies if the animal dies because of illness.
On Tuesday, attorney Christopher Pace argued the court should shut down the Andersons' puppy-selling business because they willfully ignored state law. The court should at least impose a high fine and possibly jail time, Pace said.
The judge warned the couple he could shut down their business if they continue to violate the lemon law. They also must honor the settlement agreement by submitting to the Florida Attorney General's Office monthly reports about the breeders they're using to get puppies.
Rosenberg issued a ruling against the Andersons in May, but needed financial details about their puppy sales before rendering a decision on penalties and fines.
The Andersons' Wizard of Claws store in Pembroke Pines closed a year ago, after they filed for bankruptcy. They resumed selling dogs in December under the name Puppy Collection Inc.
During that time, they sold 150 dogs for a profit of $79,870, they say. Rosenberg said the fine represents about one-third of their profit.
The judge directed attorney John Mullin, the court-appointed receiver, to inspect the Anderson home along with an independent vet. The inspections will take place periodically over the next six months.
In December, the court will determine whether the inspections should end.
The receiver has the right to remove puppies with severe health problems, Rosenberg said. Those puppies would be taken to the Humane Society of Broward County for treatment and possible adoption.
The Miami law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges represented six plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Wizard of Claws filed in June 2007.
The lawsuit accused the Andersons of selling dogs with severe health problems and genetic defects through the pet store and over the Internet.
Anderson signed the settlement agreement on Dec. 29.
Since he resumed selling dogs in December, Anderson should have submitted a monthly report to the state in January. In fact, he filed his first report in May.