Attorney General files lawsuit against Puppyland pet dealer

The lawsuit alleges the company sold unhealthy dogs while misleading consumers with “predatory” loans.

On April 11, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his office filed a lawsuit against the pet dealer Puppyland and its owners for “failing to honor advertised health guarantees and channeling customers into predatory loans with illegal terms restricting truthful reviews.”

Puppyland has operated multiple Washington locations, including one that was open in Renton before closing at the end of 2022 due to a city ordinance that prohibited the sale of dogs sourced from “puppy mills.” The company has another location open in Puyallup.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, seeks penalties and restitution under the state Consumer Protection Act for Puppyland’s deceptive and unfair advertising and sales practices. It claims that Puppyland misrepresented both the breeding standards of puppies it sold and the health guarantees they offered, while unfairly maneuvering buyers into signing predatory loans with interest rates approaching 200% without adequate time to understand the terms.

Ferguson’s office claims that more than 7,000 individuals purchased puppies from Puppyland’s Washington stores since the company started operations in 2018. Consumers complained to the Attorney General’s Office that the puppies Puppyland sold often became violently sick soon after purchase, some animals allegedly even died shortly after coming home with their new owners.

The lawsuit alleges that in the last five years Puppyland sold over 7,000 puppies to Washingtonians, charging between $3,000 and $10,000 per dog, while also misleading consumers about health coverage for purchased dogs and steering them into “predatory” loan schemes.

The filed lawsuit claims that in some instances, pet purchasers were given loans with 198.98 percent APR interest rates.

One incident with a consumer outlined in the legal filing says that Puppyland sold a puppy for $5,900 to a Washington consumer who had just turned 18. At the time, she worked part time at restaurants, so a Puppyland employee signed her up for two loans, yet did not explain the loan terms or financial implications of stacking two loans. The loan terms included interest rates of 81% and 128%, respectively. The monthly loan payments and post-purchase veterinary bills and related expenses were the equivalent of nearly 2 weeks of her salary. She lost her apartment as a result and was forced to live in her car with her puppy.

The AG’s office said that these loans were advertised as “puppy payments,” what the filing called “simply cute branding for the predatory, same-day, high-interest loans central to Defendants’ business model.”

Furthermore, the AG’s office says Puppyland’s standard purchase paperwork included an illegal non-disclosure provision that attempted to prevent consumers from sharing truthful information about their experience. Individuals who signed the paperwork agreed not to “disparage, defame, sully or compromise the goodwill” of Puppyland, or face the threat of legal action.