Attorney General James Wins $300,000 for Customers of Long Island Pet Store That Illegally Sold Sick Puppies

Shake A Paw Sold Sick Puppies, Some of Which Died Shortly After Purchase, to Unsuspecting New Yorkers
AG Secures Restitution for Customers and Stops Shake A Paw From Using Known Puppy Mills

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that pet store, Shake A Paw, will pay $300,000 to approximately 190 customers who they illegally and knowingly sold sick puppies to at locations on Long Island. As part of the settlement, Shake A Paw will also be required to change their business practices after an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found Shake A Paw kept dogs in inhumane conditions and sold critically sick puppies that died within days or weeks after purchase. Shake A Paw will pay $300,000 in restitution to all impacted customers, many of whom spent thousands of dollars on medical bills after the puppies they bought fell sick. The company is also required to stop all misleading advertising about selling the “healthiest” and “best of the best puppies” from the “most trusted breeders,” and can only purchase animals from reputable breeders or brokers that follow state and local laws. Shake A Paw will be banned from selling dogs entirely starting in December 2024 as the result of a new state law taking effect that prevents pet stores from selling dogs.  

“New Yorkers who purchase a dog are seeking loyal and loving additions to their families. Unknowingly buying a sick puppy can be downright heartbreaking,” said Attorney General James. “Not only did Shake A Paw’s owners treat the dogs in their care despicably, they defrauded their customers by lying about their health, leaving many families stuck with expensive veterinary bills. Shake A Paw’s days of buying and selling sick puppies are over, and their former customers will get restitution for the losses they suffered. I will continue to fight to protect consumers and hold accountable all those who violate laws meant to protect innocent animals.”  

In December 2021, Attorney General James sued Shake A Paw after an OAG investigation revealed its two Long Island locations in Hicksville and Lynbrook falsely advertised sick pets as healthy, failed to disclose the animals’ legitimate medical conditions, misrepresented puppies’ breeds, and refused to reimburse consumers for veterinarian bills they incurred because the dogs they purchased were sick. 

In one case, a customer purchased a puppy who died just six days after a Shake A Paw employee told them that the puppy was “fine.” In another case, a customer’s puppy was hospitalized for severe double pneumonia only two days after purchase. One customer spent over $2,000 on veterinary bills after a puppy she bought from Shake A Paw was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection just a week after purchase. Shake A Paw refused to reimburse her for the full cost, in violation of the law. 

The OAG’s investigation analyzed over 400 veterinary records of puppies sold at the stores and found that more than half of the puppies had upper respiratory infections and/or breathing problems or were infected with parasites. Almost 10 percent were diagnosed with pneumonia, which can be fatal in dogs. The illnesses and congenital defects in these animals were found to be consistent with puppies that are purchased from puppy mills.

Shake A Paw also lied to customers about the sources of its puppies, failing to fully disclose to consumers that their puppies originated from known puppy mills. While its website claimed that they “work with the most trusted breeders nationwide and handpick the best of the bunch,” in reality, Shake A Paw’s owners shipped thousands of puppies from known puppy mills, including one on the Humane Society’s “horrible hundred” list of the worst breeders in the country. 

After selling sick puppies to customers, Shake A Paw refused to offer reimbursements when they called to complain. Instead, Shake A Paw directed customers to the company’s own veterinarians, who would often fail to correctly diagnose illnesses. In violation of New York’s Pet Lemon Law, Shake A Paw refused reimbursements to customers and told customers they would not be reimbursed if they visited an independent veterinarian. 

Shortly after filing the lawsuit against Shake A Paw, Attorney General James secured a temporary court order banning its two Long Island stores from purchasing or adopting any new animals for resale in New York, requiring a vet appointed by OAG to examine all puppies in Shake A Paw’s possession prior to their sale, and freezing its bank accounts. 

The settlement announced today resolves OAG’s case against Shake A Paw. Shake A Paw will pay $300,000, which OAG will distribute to impacted customers. The company must comply with all local and state animal welfare laws, including providing adequate housing, enclosures, infection treatment, and other measures to ensure proper care. Shake A Paw will also be banned from sourcing animals from puppy mills and must only purchase animals from breeders or brokers that are licensed with the USDA and do not have recent USDA violations. In addition, Shake A Paw must remove all false and misleading advertising about selling the “healthiest” and “best of the best puppies,” and using the “most trusted breeders” from their website and will modify their contract and sales documents to remove deceptive language and conform with the law. Shake A Paw must also provide consumers with all notices and disclosures required by law, including statements certifying the health of the puppies they sell, the breeder’s information, and vaccine information. 

Beginning in December 2024, Shake A Paw will be banned from selling dogs when a New York law banning retail sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores takes effect. The law mandates that pet stores will only be able to offer shelter adoption services for these animals in an effort to combat abusive breeders and puppy mills. 

“It was deeply troubling to uncover Shake A Paw's practices and conditions back in 2021, which not only deceived pet owners but also endangered the well-being of innocent animals,” said Senator Kevin Thomas. “I applaud Attorney General James for securing restitution affected customers, marking a crucial step towards justice for consumers. New York remains steadfast in our commitment to safeguarding consumers and ensuring the humane treatment of all animals, fighting deceptive practices and promoting accountability.”

“As a staunch advocate for animal rights in the legislature and someone who is in mourning over the recent loss of our beloved rescue dog Mona, I commend Attorney General James’ handling of this case,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine.  “By securing restitution for customers and forcing changes to Shake A Paw’s deceptive practices, she has provided a satisfactory outcome for people who were deeply affected not only financially but emotionally."

“For too long, pet stores have deceptively marketed and sold sick commercially bred puppies, passing them off as heathy pets from high-quality breeders. In this cruel and unconscionable business model, pet stores and out-of-state puppy mills profit, while families are left emotionally and financially drained caring for a puppy with painful, chronic or fatal illnesses or deformities,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “We thank Attorney General James for holding Shake a Paw accountable for the pain they have caused so many New Yorkers.”

“I would like to thank the Attorney General’s office for working tirelessly for years on this case,” said Erin Laxton, a former Shake A Paw customer. “I appreciate that Shake A Paw is being held accountable for their deceptive practices. Coming to a resolution after so much time is a huge relief and I feel like I was able to get justice for my poor puppy, Merlin. I miss my puppy every day but I am proud to have been part of this process. With the stricter oversight and more truthful disclosures, I hope that no one else will have to experience what my family and I went through.”

“I want to thank Attorney General James’ office for taking action and helping people like me throughout this very emotional process,” said Meaghan Huber, a former Shake A Paw customer. “As a longtime dog lover and customer affected by the neglect of these small helpless puppies, I am happy that justice is being served. While nothing will ever fill the void of losing my family’s dog Mei Mei just shy of her second birthday and seeing her as sick as she was, we will always love her unconditionally and know she is running around pain free looking down on us with her angel wings. The puppies they mistreated never had a voice, but today the people behind Shake A Paw’s actions are finally being held accountable.”  

Attorney General James urges New Yorkers who have been the victim of pet retailers using similar deceptive or fraudulent practices to file a complaint online.

The Attorney General’s Office would like to thank: Dr. Julie Fixman, DVM; Dr. Diane Levitan, DVM; Kathleen Summers, Director of Outreach and Research of the Humane Society of the United States Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, ASPCA; and Investigator Matthew Roper of the Nassau County SPCA for their assistance in this investigation. 

This matter was handled by Valerie Singleton, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Nassau Regional Office, Toni Logue, Deputy AAGIC, and Christina Bedell, AAG, with support from Consumer Frauds Representative James Sfiroudis, Investigators Paul Matthews, Michael Christian, Andre Job, Robert Pompey-Goodman, and Heather Harmer, Legal Assistants Elizabeth Hatchett and Karen Swett, Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Tasha Bartlett, and interns Annie Wang, Ingrid Chung, and Zoe Basulto. Data Analysts Anushua Choudhury and Casey Marescot, under the supervision of Gautam Sisodia, Acting Director of Research & Analytics, Hewson Chen, Manager of Criminal Justice Discovery of the Practice Technologies Group, and Detective Investigator Eamon Murphy also assisted in this investigation. The Nassau Regional Office is part of the Division of Regional Affairs, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber. The Division of Regional Affairs is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.