State authorities have shut down a dog adoption center in Calverton for allegedly selling sick dogs.
Precious Pups Rescue, a nonprofit company located on Middle Country Road, has been taking in stray dogs from kill shelters, putting them up for adoption and charging customers an “adoption fee” between $300 to $600, according to documents filed in state Supreme Court by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
A temporary restraining order has been put on the company and the dogs cannot currently be adopted.
Precious Pups Rescue managing director Laura Zambito is accused of falsifying veterinary records in order to misrepresent the health of the animals and failing to provide behavioral training for aggressive dogs, according to court documents.
The state claims that some customers incurred thousands of dollars in veterinary bills in order to treat their dogs while other dogs died within days or weeks of being adopted.
On Thursday, Ms. Zambito deferred comment to her attorney, Alan Sash of Manhattan-based McLaughlin & Stern. Mr. Sash did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
Ms. Zambito described the case as a personal vendetta and declined further comment to CBS New York on Wednesday.
Lisa Hale of Ridge, who adopted a chihuahua from Precious Pups in March for $400, claims the company lied about the age and health of the animal. She returned the dog 10 days later after it bit her, she said.
“I was on medication for the bite,” Ms. Hale said. “It was like [the owner] didn’t care. I lost the fee, which I was promised if the dog didn’t work out.
“They just seem to want to flip the dogs for money.”
Lisa Mackie also claims to have had a bad experience with Precious Pups after purchasing a mix-bred dog from the company last year.
“The dog had an ear infection and I was trying to distract him with a treat while my husband put ear drops in his ear,” she said. “[The dog] just lunged at me, chased me around the house and tore my cloths. He bit my head. I had welts.”
Ms. Mackie said she had the dog euthanized because it suffered from chronic sickness and had behavioral issues.
Ms. Zambito has responded to some complaints directly.
“Total, complete and utter nonsense,” she wrote in response to a complaint posted on Yelp. “We invite anyone and everyone to come to our facility and see for yourself how we keep our dogs and how beautiful a setting they live and don’t buy into this ‘hater nonsense’ trying to ruin our rescue group.”
This isn’t the first time Precious Pups has run into legal problems.
Last August, Riverhead Town claimed the company was acting as an illegal dog shelter in a Baiting Hollow home.
While that case is still pending, town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz said charges weren’t pursued since the shelter relocated to its current location at a commercial storefront in Calverton.
Ms. Zambito is due back in court Wednesday.