Reasonable people can disagree about the ethics of paying big sums for purebred puppies. There are countless animals in shelters who need a home and will never find one, but there are also people who need or want a very specific breed of dog for a number of reasons, be they allergy-related, emotional, a matter of status, or something else. So while the idea of spending $3,500 on a purebred pup might sound repugnant to some, selling someone a dying dog is just evil.
But that’s what a number of customers claim ValleyPuppies.com did to them. Lawsuits allege that customers purchased purebreds and that their promised pedigree papers never arrived. Instead, illness did. The lawsuits allege that the customers recieved puppies sick with parasites, parvo, or other diseases—some of which left the owners with dying dogs. As The Monitor reports:
[T]he website’s owners Jessica Benavidez and Jaime De Los Reyes, of McAllen, who sold puppies for as much as $3,500, are being accused of multiple violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and are being sued by people who purchased puppies from the site, the Texas Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.
Customers of Valleypuppies.com began filing complaints with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations when the website’s owners failed to provide pedigree certification. Puppies would arrive with a vaccination record and a promise that the pedigree would arrive from the Ukrainian Kennel Union within a few weeks. But when customers reached out to the UKU, the agency told them they had no knowledge of the website or of its owners Benavidez and De Los Reyes, according to the lawsuit.
The website for Valleypuppies.com is pure late-90’s web design, with blinking gifs, rollover buttons, and a visitor counter that says that over 70,000 potential customers have visited the site. The site advertises chihuahuas, English bulldogs, and Frenchies, and is full of photos of roly-poly puppies with price tags of $3,500. There isn’t a lot of information about the dogs on the website, which instead urges customers to call a phone number to learn more about the deals (with financing) available to them.
The site is still currently online, even though Benavidez and De Los Reyes are both on the hook, should they lose their lawsuits, for $20,000 per case, as well as restitution for the families who were sold the sick dogs. How all of this ultimately plays out remains to be seen, of course, but in the meantime—everybody always gets what they pay for when they adopt a shelter dog…