Samantha Ellis, Global Animal

Protesters outside west LA Barkworks store, December, 2009. Photo Credit: Buddhadog.com

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a class action suit in California Supierior Court in Los Angeles County against Barkworks. Barkworks is a Southern California pet store chain that has been linked with puppy mills. Several protests have been held in response to the false claims the store has made about the origins of the pets they sell. ALDF’s suit claims that the store repeatedly engaged in fraud and false advertising in order to conceal from customers that they got the puppies from large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities, commonly called puppy mills. Numerous individuals have reported purchasing “fit for sale” and “not ill” puppies that were, in fact, extremely sick from one of the Barkworks stores.

The lawsuit also claims that the stores have a pattern of misleading customers about the origin of their puppies — with Barkworks providing breeder and USDA breeder numbers in sales contacts that are wrong, thus making it impossible for customers to verify Barkworks’ claims that the puppies come from “reputable breeders” and not puppy mills. Other plantiffs have even said that Barkworks employees had assured them that the dogs had not come from puppy mills. ALDF’s suit further claims that purchasing puppies from unsanitary and mass-producing facilities is standard practice for Barkworks.

Dogs that come from puppy mills are bred in horrendous conditions. Hundreds of dogs and puppies are housed in extrememyl close conditions that lack enough food, water, medical care, and proper treatment and socialization. Dogs from puppy mills often suffer from infectious diseases, and are more prone to develop serious conditions such as hip dysplasia, heart and kidney disease, and respiratory disorders.

Best Friends Animal Society has gathered evidence against Barkworks, and has hosted peaceful protests every weekend at most Barkworks locations. These demonstrations, like the Black Eyed Peas puppy mill protest and the holiday season protest, aim to inform potential Barkworks customers about the connection between Barkworks stores and puppy mills.

“Barkworks has misrepresented the breeding history and health of its puppies in order to convince customers to purchase them, resulting in large profits for their business—and heartbreak for countless dogs and their adoptive families,” says ALDF Director of Litigation Carter Dillard. “It is time for the court to intervene to stop Barkworks’ blatant and illegal deceptive practices, and to provide restitution to the consumers whom they have victimized.”

ALDF is being represented in this matter by lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

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