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

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.

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)

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.

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.

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