New dogs going elsewhere, current dogs staying while suit ensues

08/27/2014 4:00 PM |
Precious Pups in Calverton was shutdown by authorities for selling sick dogs. (Cyndi Murray photo)

Precious Pups in Calverton was shutdown by authorities for selling sick dogs. (Cyndi Murray photo)

A Calverton animal shelter in court for reportedly selling sick dogs to its customers and failing to offer proper health records of the animals had a future shipment of dogs put on hold by a Suffolk judge on Wednesday, despite objections from the company’s lawyer that the move unfairly implicates the company of guilt.

However the dogs currently there will be allowed to stay on site.

Precious Pups Rescue, located on Route 25, is accused by the state Attorney General’s Office of 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.

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.

A temporary restraining order was placed on the company last week, preventing the organization from selling and adopting out any dogs until the order is lifted.

On Wednesday, Judge Andrew Tarantino was trying to determine whether the dogs can stay at Precious Pups while the investigation by the AG’s office continues. Kent Animal Shelter, the Animal Welfare Fund of the Hamptons and the North Shore Animal Welfare League have all offered to house and adopt out the puppies in the meantime.

Precious Pups was due to receive another shipment of puppies this upcoming Saturday, though Judge Tarantino ordered that those dogs be delivered to other nearby shelters instead.

Precious Pups Rescue’s attorney, Alan Sash, has vehemently denied the allegations and objected to the order, stating that it presumes the company is guilty of mistreating the animals without due process.

“There is no reason for any other nonprofit shelter to take these dogs,” Mr. Sash said in court Wednesday. “Precious Pups is already doing everything any other nonprofit shelter would do.”

The judge said, “This is not a finding of wrongdoing, but at this point with the complaints I have read, there needs to be more discovery.”

State lawyer Rachael Arello said in court that Precious Pups has not complied with a subpoena for documentation on the animals.

“[They] should be focused on getting us the documents,” Ms. Arello said.

The judge ordered those documents submitted by Sept. 3 and set a return date of Sept. 10. He also suggested that the attorney general’s office look at complaints about other shelters, for comparison’s sake.

“You hear of dogs getting sick all the time,” he said. “You need to put this in perspective. It is a factor everyone has to consider.”

Precious Pups owner Laura Zambito has referred requests by the News-Review to her attorney. However in interviews with other media outlets, she has claimed that the complaints — of which, according to the AG, there are roughly 30 — are without merit, and part of a personal vendetta against her.