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Post date: March 16 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Obtains Consent Order Shuttering Long Island Puppy Flipper

Consent Order And Judgment Permanently Bars Two Purported Dog “Rescuers” From Selling, Fostering Or Adopting Out Animals

Dog Flippers Are Ordered To Pay Over $24,000 In Restitution And Penalties For Deceptive Business Practices

Schneiderman: Consumers Deserve To Know That Their Puppies Were Raised In A Safe Place

HAUPPAUGE – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that two individuals responsible for illegally reselling or “flipping” puppies through their Suffolk County-based nonprofit, Precious Pups Rescue, Inc., have been permanently barred from engaging in any for-profit or not-for-profit activity relating to animals in any way. The respondents, who sold sick dogs to unsuspecting consumers, are also ordered to pay more than $24,000 in restitution and penalties for their deceptive business practices.

“Pets are companions and important members of many New York families. Consumers deserve to know that their puppies were healthy and raised in a safe place,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Through our Animal Protection Initiative, my office is committed to ensuring the humane treatment of dogs and cats by all sellers. We will take aggressive action against anyone who endangers innocent animals and, in turn, the New York consumers to whom those pets are sold.”

LauraZambito, 43, of Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and Rose Torrillo-Hooghkirk, 61, of Calverton, N.Y., obtained, or “pulled” puppies from both in-state and out-of-state shelters, sold them to consumers, and pocketed the so-called “adoption fees” or “donations” of $200 to $600 per dog. Zambito and Torrillo-Hooghkirk, who were not licensed pet dealers, initially kept the puppies in Torrillo-Hooghkirk’s home, and then expanded their Precious Pups operation to a commercial storefront located at 4466 Middle Country Road in Calverton.

Zambito and Torrillo-Hooghkirk sold consumers dogs that they claimed were healthy, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and evaluated by a veterinarian, when in fact, they were not. In fact, the dogs had visible signs of illness, such as coughing, scratching, matting and sores. Afterwards, consumers learned that their dogs suffered from a variety of illnesses, including distemper, heartworm, pneumonia, sarcoptic mange (scabies), and tick infestation. Some of these illnesses not only caused other dogs in consumers’ households to become sick, but have caused the consumers themselves to become ill, requiring medical treatment. In addition, many of these pets required prolonged veterinary care, causing consumers to incur thousands of dollars in veterinary bills.  Several dogs died, and some suffered such severe medical or aggression issues that they had to be euthanized. 

In the past year, the Attorney General’s Office has received approximately fifty complaints from consumers about Precious Pups’ business practices. 

As a result of a court order, Zambito and Torrillo-Hooghkirk are permanently barred from selling, rescuing or fostering animals or becoming pet dealers in New York State. In addition, they are prohibited from soliciting, receiving or holding any funds for any charitable organization, or act in a managerial capacity of any charitable organization for a period of ten years, and must dissolve Precious Pups Rescue, Inc. Furthermore, Zambito and Torrillo-Hooghkirk are ordered to pay $14,090 in restitution and a $10,000 penalty. Zambito was also required to sign a $20,000 confession of judgment, which can be docketed in the event that she is found to be in violation of the consent order.

Pursuant to the court order, consumers who purchased sick dogs from Precious Pups Rescue, Inc. and would like to be considered to receive restitution have 30 days to file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, Suffolk Regional Office, 300 Motor Parkway, Suite 230, Hauppauge, New York 11788.

In May 2013, Attorney General Schneiderman was the first state attorney general to launch an Animal Protection Initiative, which is committed to ensuring the humane treatment of dogs and cats by requiring pet dealers to guarantee the good health of any such animal sold by a pet dealer to a consumer. Consumers who suspect animal cruelty can file a complaint or give an anonymous tip to the Attorney General’s Helpline at 1-866-697-3444.

This case was handled by Rachael C. Anello, Assistant Attorney General, Suffolk Regional Office, with the assistance of Lori L. Pack, Assistant Attorney General, Suffolk Regional Office, and Debra K. Siegler, Paralegal, under the supervision of Kimberly A. Kinirons, Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge, Suffolk Regional Office, and Marty Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs.  This case was investigated by Paul Matthews, Attorney General Senior Law Department Investigator and Andre Job, Law Department Investigator.

 

A copy of the consent order and judgment can be read here.

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