A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreement And Court Order Busting Illegal Dog Resellers In Syracuse And Buffalo
Ruling and Settlement Permanently Bar Two Illegal Dog Dealers From Selling Animals Or Pets Again
Schneiderman: Our Animal Protection Initiative Will Continue To Prosecute Individuals Who Deceive Pet Shoppers Or Mistreat Animals In Their Care
SYRACUSE – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that two individuals responsible for illegally reselling or “flipping” puppies to unsuspecting consumers in Syracuse and Buffalo have been permanently barred from selling animals or becoming licensed pet dealers. In one case, the Attorney General’s office reached an agreement with an individual in the Syracuse area who bought puppies on Craigslist, kept them in poor condition without access to a veterinarian, and resold them illegally. In another, the office obtained a court order against an individual in Buffalo who posed as a puppy breeder, when in fact the puppies she sold were purchased online, malnourished, and sold to consumers who reported fleas, filth, and near-death health conditions among the pets. The announcement was made today at the Central New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CNY SPCA) headquarters in Syracuse, where Attorney General Schneiderman was joined by Paul Morgan, CNY SPCA’s Executive Director, members of the CNY SPCA Board of Directors, and representatives from the ‘Cuse Pit Crew and Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, local animal rescue groups.
“Today’s developments are a win-win. By shutting down operations where animals are being illegally sold, we can help ensure that consumers are purchasing healthy pets, while protecting the animals themselves from those who break the law to turn a profit,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “In holding these individuals accountable, we are sending the message that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.”
Today’s actions are the latest to be brought as part of the Attorney General’s ongoing Animal Protection Initiative, which launched in May 2013. The initiative seeks to help consumers and animals alike by cracking down on animal cruelty, shutting down criminal animal fighting rings and bringing to justice those who unscrupulously sell animals to unsuspecting consumers. The Initiative is comprised of Investigators and Assistant Attorneys General from around the state, the OAG's Regional Offices, the Consumer Fraud Bureau, the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, the Organized Crime Task Force and the Investigations Bureau.
Those who flip dogs not only purchase the dogs, but also flip dogs they have received at no cost. Obtaining a dog at little or no cost and then spending a minimal amount (if anything) on the dog’s care quickly maximizes the return. Current pet owners should be aware of this when considering giving up their pet, and should always go through an authorized facility, such as a local SPCA or shelter.
Stephanie Arcara, a self-confessed “puppy flipper,” bought puppies advertised on Craigslist and then sold them to unsuspecting customers in the Buffalo area. Arcara, who was not a licensed pet dealer, kept the puppies in her home, where they were poorly cared for. According to one consumer, the puppy she purchased from Arcara was covered in feces and urine, had patches of hair missing on its body and was very thin. Another reported that a puppy he purchased from Arcara was dehydrated and suffered from constant seizures, while others reported that puppies sold by Arcara had worms, fleas and bladder infections. One puppy even died shortly after Arcara sold it.
Arcara illegally sold dozens of puppies to unsuspecting consumers, usually by advertising on Craigslist. She misrepresented herself to consumers as a breeder of the puppies when, in fact, she purchased them on Craigslist. Arcara also misrepresented the breed of the puppies she sold, sometimes claiming they were purebreds when they were not, and told consumers that the puppies had been dewormed and were current on their shots, which was also not the case.
Carissa Seaman, of Cleveland, NY, bought animals, or obtained them for free, from Craigslist and the trading post of a local radio station. She would then re-sell the dogs to other consumers for more money than she paid for them – flipping the dogs and pocketing the difference. In just one year, Seaman sold over two dozen dogs.
Seaman, who is not a licensed pet dealer, kept the dogs in her home, but cared for them poorly. None of the dogs sold by Seaman received veterinarian care. In July of 2013, she offered to sell a five week old St. Bernard puppy that had fleas and flea feces on its skin to two undercover AG investigators. Another seven month old fawn pug for sale had two patches of fur missing from his back revealing raw and irritated skin.
Both Arcara and Seaman violated New York State law by failing to provide consumers with any records of the puppies’ breeder or the veterinary care they had received, and sold or offered to sell puppies that were less than 8 weeks of age. Both individuals also failed to have the puppies examined by a licensed veterinarian prior to selling them and did not advise consumers of their rights to return sick puppies, as required by law.
Per the terms of a voluntary settlement agreement, Carissa Seaman is permanently barred from selling animals or becoming a pet dealer. As a result of a court order, Stephanie Arcara is also permanently barred from selling animals or becoming a pet dealer. Furthermore, she was required to pay $1,000, which was provided as restitution to the individual who purchased the puppy that died.
The Attorney General urges those interested in bringing home a dog to adopt, not shop for their new best friend. By adopting from a local SPCA or shelter, a dog in need gets a home, and space and resources are freed up for the facility to take in more homeless dogs. In turn, the new owner can ensure that they are receiving a healthy pet, as these dogs have been fully vetted, immunized and given a clean bill of health.
When choosing to go through a seller as opposed to a shelter, avoid dealing with fraudulent puppy sellers or purchasing a sick dog by following these guidelines:
- Avoid sites like Craigslist, which are unregulated and enable unlicensed individuals to sell and flip pets.
- Get the address of the seller and inspect where the seller houses the puppies. Do not buy a puppy from a seller who refused to allow you to do this.
- Prior to buying a puppy, ask the seller where he or she obtained it. If the seller is not the breeder, ask for the breeder’s name. If the seller does not have the breeder’s name, think twice about buying the puppy.
- Find out the age of the puppy. A puppy should not be sold until it is eight weeks old, so that it can be weaned from its mother.
- Ask for proof of all veterinary care the puppy has received, including records of inoculations and worming treatments administered, as well as the dates and types of vaccines.
- Inspect the puppy for indications of poor health (low weight, patches of missing hair, runny eyes or snout, the ears and bottom are not clean).
- If the seller says that the dog is registered with a kennel club, obtain the registration certificate and pedigree when you pick up your puppy.
- Obtain a signed statement assuring that the dog has no known illness or disease or congenital or hereditary condition, or a record of any known illness or congenital condition and a letter from a licensed vet verifying that the disease does not require hospitalization or non-elective surgery.
- Dealers should notify that you need to license your dog in your municipality and provide information about spaying and neutering your new dog.
New Yorkers seeking to report consumer complaints, animal abuse or give anonymous tips about potential animal fighting rings are asked to call 1-866-697-3444. For more information on Attorney General Schneiderman’s Animal Protection Initiative, visit www.ag.ny.gov/animals.
The Attorney General thanks Paul Morgan, Executive Director of the Central New York SPCA, Barbara Carr, Executive Director of the SPCA Serving Erie County , Jeffrey Eyre, Director of Animal Cruelty, Rescue and Community Response, Michael Armtys, Chief Investigator and Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita for their assistance in these investigations.
This case was handled by Judith Malkin, Assistant Attorney General, Syracuse Regional Office and James Morrissey, Assistant Attorney General, Buffalo Regional Office, under the supervision of Marty Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs. This case was investigated by Andrea Buttenschon, Attorney General Senior Law Department Investigator and Joel Cordone, Criminal Prosecution Investigator.