Pet store accused of selling sick puppies settles lawsuit

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A legal agreement will prevent the owner of Furry Babies from getting puppies from breeders who fail inspections. (WLS)

ABC 7 I-Team Investigation
A local pet store chain has agreed to make major changes tonight as a lawsuit comes to an end.

It's the same store that was part of an I-Team investigation where heartbroken customers claimed they bought sick and dying puppies.

Animal rights activists announced a settlement and call it a win - a legal agreement which will prevent the owner of Furry Babies from getting puppies from breeders who fail inspections. Two years ago, the I-Team uncovered complaints of sick and dying dogs.

The agreement stems from a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States Animal Legal Defense Fund.

"The Furry Babies chain will ensure that none of the puppies it obtains comes from breeders or facilities that have had any direct or critical animal welfare act violations within the last inspection. They will also practically disclose veterinary reports as well as information about the breeders to people who buy puppies from those stores," said Christopher Murry, Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Furry Babies Incorporated and its president, Roger Trolinger of Rockford, were sued in 2013. They denied any wrong doing but five families alleged that the chain pet store sold them sick and mistreated puppies, born and raised in filthy conditions. One of those families was sold a puppy which passed away shortly after the purchase. All demanded refunds.

Evelyn Rodriguez told the I-Team she and her daughter were crushed when their "morkie" puppy named Buddy had to be put to sleep only three weeks after they purchased him from the Bloomingdale location.

"I mean it was horrible. They put the dog to sleep," Rodriguez said.

Buddy was found to have had a slightly enlarged heart and died of "severe pulmonary hemorrhage."

Rodriguez believes she was entitled to a $2,000 refund under the state's puppy lemon law. But in a statement, the owner of Furry Babies said that all of the puppies featured in our report were certified as being healthy when they were sold and that "they were each examined and cleared by two veterinarians."

The I-Team also researched Furry Babies' puppies for sale and their breeder certificates. We found USDA inspection reports from breeders showing dogs with ear mites, open sores, swollen gums, scabs, excessively long toe nails, expired medications and an accumulation of waste. Other reports revealed growths on eyes and infections in dog's mouths.

The new settlement agreement should protect future Furry Babies customers.

"What the settlement with Furry Babies does, is it ensures that at least those breeders that fall below those minimum usda standards will not be able to sell their puppies to this pet store chain and that is a significant victory for puppies and consumers," Murry said.

The owner of Furry Babies did not return our calls or emails. The Animal Legal Defense Fund says that specific customers listed in the lawsuit also settled claims, but that details are confidential.


Announcements of Settlement: 1, 2

Puppy Lemon Law

Original I-Team story with more tips
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