Attorney General James Takes Action Against Chelsea Kennel Club For Selling Sick And Injured Puppies To New Yorkers
Attorney General James Takes Action Against Chelsea Kennel Club for Selling Sick and Injured Puppies to New Yorkers
Pet Store Lied to Consumers About Dogs’ Conditions; Withheld Pet Medical Files
NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James today announced a lawsuit against the pet store Chelsea Kennel Club, its manager Yardena Derraugh (a/k/a Yardena Rich, Dana Rich) and William Derraugh, the president of Future Enterprises NYC, Inc. for allegedly selling sick, injured, and abused animals to consumers; withholding pertinent medical information about the puppies; and illegally selling animals obtained through unauthorized breeders. They are also accused of false advertising, engaging in veterinary practice without a license, failing to abide by New York City’s Pet Lemon Law, and treating animals inhumanely.
“It is not only shameful, but illegal to sell sick and injured pets, let alone abuse these animals,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “My office will continue to investigate and prosecute businesses and individuals that mistreat animals and swindle New Yorkers.”
Attorney General James’ office collaborated with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in conducting the investigation. An HSUS staff member secured employment at Chelsea Kennel Club and, as part of an undercover investigation, obtained evidence of unacceptable conditions and routine withholding of medical information concerning the sick animals, details that supported the Attorney General’s allegations.
“When we filed a complaint with the New York Attorney General’s office based on our undercover investigation of Chelsea Kennel Club, we were confident that it would be taken seriously,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO, HSUS. “No puppy should be forced to endure the type of treatment we documented at Chelsea Kennel Club. We appreciate the effort of the Attorney General’s office in securing justice for these animals and New York consumers.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks a court order forbidding Future Enterprises NYC, Inc., Chelsea Kennel Club, Yardena Derraugh and William Derraugh from engaging in fraudulent and deceptive conducts, restitution for consumers, and over $70,000 in fines and penalties.
On its website, Chelsea Kennel Club described its business as a “progressive, caring, and ethical pet store.” Meanwhile, their actions were deceptive, illegal, and inhumane. A veterinarian usually examined the puppies after they arrived at Chelsea Kennel Club. However, the store withheld veterinarians’ preliminary examination reports that in some cases documented serious health issues with the animals. As a result, consumers were either unaware of illnesses, or were misled regarding the health condition of their pets. Many never discovered their animal’s medical issues until after they took their pets home. In one instance, a consumer had his puppy just six days before it died in an animal hospital.
When consumers demanded their money back, Chelsea Kennel Club denied their requests—violating the terms of the Chelsea Kennel Club Consumer Protection Plan, as well as New York’s Pet Lemon Law, which ensures the good health of cats and dogs sold in the state. Under this law, pet dealers must issue a refund, reimburse veterinary expenses, or replace the animal. To qualify for a refund or a replacement animal, a consumer must obtain a veterinary certification showing that the animal was unfit for sale within fourteen business days of the purchase. Yet, in many of these cases, Chelsea Kennel Club simply refused to comply with this law.
The pet store proprietors’ fraudulent and illegal conduct resulted in consumers unknowingly purchasing sick puppies that required subsequent veterinarian treatment or hospitalization at significant cost. Staff members also provided prescription drugs to puppies without consulting with a veterinarian. Yardena Derraugh regularly instructed her employees to administer unhealthy doses of prescription medications to puppies at the store. In some cases, the medicines used were expired, making the animals even sicker.
Chelsea Kennel Club staff also treated the puppies in inhumane manners, putting dogs that barked in a submissive position until they began to whimper or whipping them when they refused to keep quiet.
According to some evidence, some of the puppies came from Class B dealers, violating Section 17-702(b) of the New York City Administrative Code. This prohibits pet stores from selling, offering for sale, or even displaying dogs purchased from Class B dealers.
The investigation was conducted by Investigator Chad Shelmidine, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator John Woods.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jason Clark of the Harlem Regional Office, under the supervision of Roberto Lebron, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Harlem Regional Office; Jane Azia, Bureau Chief of the Consumer Frauds Bureau; and Jill Faber, Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs.