Iowa Sues to Shut Down National puppy laundering ring passed off puppy-mill dogs as rescue animals

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An alleged “national puppy laundering ring” that supplied dogs to Chicago pet shops could be shut down following a Chicago Tribune report last year that exposed how the stores were selling pure-bred and designer pets, despite the city’s anti-puppy mill ordinance.

Shake a Paw Rescue and Adoption Center in Green Brook and Union (Union County) received dogs from an Iowan national “puppy laundering” ring, with four Iowans masquerading puppy-mill puppies as rescue animals and selling them for as much as $3,600 each, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office alleges in a lawsuit.

Animal Kingdom Pet Shop in Grover Beach is one of a handful of Central Coast pet shops accused of doing business with puppy mills, in direct violation of California law. (Nathalie Vera/KEYT)

Although Shake a Paw Rescue and Adoption Center was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, The operations sold almost 1,300 animals in California, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey for more than $700,000 from 2016 to 2018, the lawsuit said. None of the puppies — including Pomeranians, Shar-Peis, Alaskan Malamutes, Poodle-Yorkies — were re-homed in Iowa.

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“Some are creatively attempting to thwart anti-puppy mill initiatives and consumer protection laws by engaging in the practice of ‘puppy laundering’ … the purposeful masking of the genuine source of merchandise puppies from consumers and law enforcement,” the lawsuit says.

Cocker spaniel puppies for sale at Shake A Paw in Green Brook (Photo: Digital Collections/IPTC)

Hobo K9 Rescue, a nonprofit that describes its mission as helping unwanted or undesirable dogs and cats “find their forever homes,” wrote large checks to JAK’s Puppies, a for-profit commercial breeder, the state says.

puppies for sale at Shake A Paw in Green Brook (Photo: Digital Collections/IPTC)

“Hobo K9 Rescue fraudulently touts itself as a non-profit ‘rescue’ based out of rural Iowa, while exporting puppies for-profit and as far away as California,” the lawsuit says.

The nonprofit charged a “pedigree” fee for hundreds of the dogs it found homes for in states like California, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey. None were “re-homed” in Iowa.

puppies for sale at Shake A Paw in Green Brook (Photo: Digital Collections/IPTC)

“No legitimate charitable rescue’s associated fees to ‘adopt’ or ‘re-home’ a dog would ever even approach such an extravagant, for-profit sum as $3,599.99,” the state argued in the lawsuit.

A warehouse, right, in Iowa owned by for-profit dog dealer J.A.K.’S Puppies houses puppies for transport to stores. After Chicago passed its anti-puppy mill law, J.A.K.’S owners formed the nonprofit Hobo K-9 Rescue. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune)

Despite saying it meets all the puppies’ veterinarian needs, Hobo K9 Rescue “did not spay or neuter every puppy prior to shipping them outside of Iowa,” the state said, increasing the chances some “rescue puppies” would again be bred for profit.

Iowa is home to a national “puppy laundering” ring that masquerades puppy-mill purebreds as rescues, selling them for thousands of dollars each in cities and states where they’re banned, an Iowa Attorney General lawsuit alleges. (2018 file photo) (Photo: Marty Pearl/Special to Courier Journal)

Animal welfare groups say animals in puppy mills are treated cruelly, forced to live in tiny cages often filled with waste, and bred constantly to create a continuous cash crop of puppies.

H/T: Chicago Tribune

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