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South Jersey dealer sold sick puppies, inoculated them herself, refused to provide records, state charges

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

BEYOND BERGEN: A South Jersey puppy dealer sold sick pets without the required veterinary exams, history and health records or refunds, state authorities have charged.

Jessica Durkin of “Prada Puppies” in Salem also refused to pay the cost of veterinary treatment after the puppies she sold turned out to be sick, state Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

She also vaccinated or inoculated pets herself, he said.

“Families who bring a new puppy into their home will bond with that pet very quickly,” Hoffman said. “Those who purchased sick puppies from this defendant – including the family that had to have their new pet euthanized – suffered on behalf of their animals and because of the defendant’s alleged failure to disclose health information or provide reimbursement for purchase and veterinary costs.

“We are pursuing full restitution for those consumers.”

Durkin of charged between $300 and $450 for the sale of Jack Russell terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Yorkshire terrier/poodle mixes, and Maltese/poodle mixes, a civil complaint filed in state Superior Court in Salem County says.

She advertised the puppies on the Prada Puppies website, www.pradapuppies.com, as well as on various dog breeder and dealer websites such as www.qualitydogs.com, www.dogsnow.com, and www.breeders.net, and in the South Jersey Times newspaper, it says.

The state complaint outlines a series of horrible experiences for buyers:

One family purchased a Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix puppy from Durkin in December 2012 who quickly became ill with hypoglycemia, severe diarrhea and anemia — and was nearly comatose when they went to a veterinary clinic five days later. Eight days after the purchase, the family made the decision to euthanize the extremely ill pet.

A Jack Russell puppy developed a severe cough four days after a family purchased it from Durkin in November 2012, state authorities said. The family brought the animal to a veterinarian, who diagnosed and treated it for bacterial bronchopneumonia.

A family took a Cavalier King Charles puppy for a veterinary exam one day after purchasing it from Durkin in January 2013. The veterinarian found that the animal was suffering from ear mites, yeast infection of the ears, giardia (a parasite that invades the small intestines) and an upper respiratory infection.

Also in January 2013, a family brought a Maltese-poodle mix puppy to a veterinarian three days after purchasing it from Durkin, because the puppy exhibited vomiting, diarrhea and extreme head-shaking. The vet determined that the puppy suffered from giardia, coccidia (another parasite that invades the intestines) and ear mites.

Durkin refused to provide refunds on these and other occasions, despite the fact that in each case a veterinarian determined within 14 days of purchase that the animals had been unfit for sale, the state complaint says.

In such cases, the seller must honor the customer’s choice to either return the pet for a full refund plus the payment of veterinary costs, or to keep the pet and receive reimbursement for past and future veterinary costs up to the original purchase price, authoritites said.

According to the complaint, Durkin refused to provide buyers with State-mandated animal history and health certificates that must include, among other things, the name and address of the person from whom the dealer purchased the animal; the breeder’s name and address and the animal’s litter number; the dates on which the animal was examined by a New Jersey-licensed veterinarian, as well as the findings made and any treatment given; and a list of all vaccinations and inoculations given to the animal.
Durkin alsofailed to have pets examined by a New Jersey-licensed veterinarian at least three days prior to sale, as required by law, it says.

The State’s complaint alleges that Durkin violated multiple provisions of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Pet Regulations, and asks the court to order Durkin to pay full consumer restitution as well as civil penalties and reimbursement of the investigative costs and attorney’s fees.

Investigator Donna Leslie, of the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection, investigated. Deputy Attorney General Alina Wells, of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, is representing the state.

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