The company claimed to be offering diabetic alert dogs.
RICHMOND, VA — Virginia's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers Inc. and its CEO for allegedly selling “diabetic alert dogs” that weren't properly trained for the job.
"This suit alleges not just dishonest and unlawful business practices, but a recklessness that could have endangered the lives of customers who relied on the claims made by Service Dogs and its owner," said Attorney General Mark Herring. "Our investigation shows that, in many instances, Service Dogs was simply selling a $25,000 pet, leaving customers with a huge bill and no protection against a potentially life-threatening blood sugar situation."
The lawsuit alleges that Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers and Warren charged $18,000 to $27,000 for a dog that could purportedly identify life-threatening low and high blood sugar in people with diabetes. In reality, the dogs "were often poorly trained, ill-behaved, and unequipped to help manage a life-threatening situation, rendering them little more than incredibly expensive pets," Herring's office said in a press release.
Herring said the company the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law. He also said it misled customers and donors about certain aspects of the its payment structure and lied about Warren having served in the armed forces.
"An investigation of customer complaints showed that, instead of the well-trained service dog that was promised, Service Dogs often provided an untrained puppy that showed significant shortcomings such as an inability to properly walk on a leash, inappropriate chewing and destruction, inability to respond when called, jumping on people, fear of noises, and frequent barking or whining," according to the release.
The complaint also alleges that Service Dogs encouraged customers to solicit charitable donations to cover the cost of their dog despite several times not being properly registered to solicit charitable funds. And it claims the company misled customers about a partnership with or endorsement from JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Finally, the suit alleges that Warren lied to customers and donors when he claimed to have served in the U.S. Marine Corps, to have trained dogs for the military, and to have received a medical discharge because of a diabetes diagnosis. In reality, Warren has never served in the U.S. Marine Corps or any other branch of the military, the release states.
In his lawsuit filed in Madison County Circuit Court, Herring is seeking restitution on behalf of affected consumers along with civil penalties and attorneys' fees. He is asking the court to block Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers from further violations of the Consumer Protection Act and Solicitation of Contributions law.
Herring is also seeking an accounting from the company of all funds obtained through unlawful solicitations, and the establishment of a charitable trust so those funds can be provided to an appropriate charitable organization.