Robin SchulderRobin Schulder, labeled Queens Cruella by Gothamist, will have to pay a small fortune for her misdeeds. The penalty: $167,000 and a prohibition against operating, promoting or participating in any businesses relating to dogs in any way. The stipulated settlement was with the New York State Office of the Attorney General, which had been pursuing the Internet breeder along with CAPS since 2007. After receiving complaints from consumers who purchased sick puppies from online dog businesses, CAPS asked the AG's office to start a case.
Originally, Andrew Cuomo – Attorney General at the time – went after Imported Quality Guard Dogs and the Animal Rescue Unit, two of the businesses owned by Schulder. In a statement back in 2010, Cuomo said she "engaged in deceptive business practices and false advertising." There were obvious violations of the state's Pet Lemon Law and the deception went further than selling sick puppies or the wrong breed.
During her "reign," Schulder pretended to run a "no-kill shelter" called Animal Rescue Unit (a pretty despicable act on its own) and duped dozens of consumers into buying sickly puppies of various breeds from several websites. She claimed she bred the dogs herself, although a CAPS undercover investigation didn't see any evidence of a kennel operation in her home. She contacted CAPS about one of the complaints filed against her but was reluctant to answer CAPS' questions about the source of her dogs or her suspicious practices. Instead, she claimed to belong to a number of animal protection organizations and that she ran a nonprofit rescue organization, at one point offering to donate to CAPS as a veiled bribe. After being probed by the government, CAPS and consumers, she claimed her alleged non-profit was inactive and that was the reason why she couldn't produce any records of dogs rescued by the ‘organization.'
Schulder has a history of shady practices and exhibits all the tell-tale signs of a con-artist. Some of the customers reported that Schulder verbally assaulted them when they demanded reimbursement for veterinary care or when they tried to return puppies. In some cases, Schulder sent pictures but delivered completely different dogs - at times not even the same breed. This was a classic bait-and-switch scheme that caught the Attorney General's attention. Schulder and Reich also sold dogs over the Internet, site unseen, and claimed to get some of their puppies from family-owned kennels in Europe.
Late last year, Schulder filed for bankruptcy. The state had to wait until the summer of 2012 to collect the settlement money through the bankruptcy court even though the stipulated settlement was reached in April 2011. The stipulation also enjoined Schulder from soliciting or collecting funds for or on behalf of the Animal Rescue Unit or from operating, promoting or participating in any animal related charitable organizations or activities. Schulder finally admitted that the Animal Rescue Unit, which she advertised as a no-kill shelter, was inactive and that she couldn't produce any records of the dogs rescued by her alleged non-profit organization.
Although far from a happy ending, the Queens Cruella won't be conning any more unsuspecting customers. Thanks to the combined efforts of government officials and CAPS, Schulder paid a steep fine and won't be able to sell dogs or engage in charitable work on behalf of animals. Her story should be a cautionary tale for those considering to buy dogs from any Internet sellers. For more information about Internet sellers, read the CAPS fact sheet "Why You Shouldn't Buy that Puppy on the Internet."
Publication name: reprinted from CourthouseNews.com
URL for more info: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/01/14/23663.htm
Online Seller was Investigated by CAPS for using Fraud to Sell Sick Puppies
The Office of the New York Attorney General filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of Nassau County on January 7, 2010 against Robin Schulder, an online puppy seller investigated by the Companion Animal Protection Society after CAPS received numerous consumer complaints. Schulder used fraudulent means to sell sick, deformed and dying puppies and refused to comply with the New York puppy lemon law. She shipped sick puppies as far away as California using connecting flights that took as long as 12 hours. She often wrote harassing, threatening emails to consumers who sought reimbursement for veterinary care or a refund. In an email to CAPS, she wrote disparaging comments about one of the CAPS complainants, even offering a donation to CAPS and claiming she belonged to a number of animal protection organizations and ran a nonprofit rescue organization. She told CAPS that she only bred a couple breeds of dogs that one couldn't obtain through rescues. Schulder who lives on a small lot in Queens, bred few if any dogs and obtained most of her puppies from other sources.
Cuomo Busts Puppy Salesmen By BARBARA LEONARD
MINEOLA (CN) - Queens-based pet dealers use bait-and-switch tactics to sell unfit dogs, and violate charities law by "purport(ing) to engage in animal rescue activities," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says. Cuomo says the husband and wife's two businesses, Imported Quality Guard Dogs and the Animal Rescue Unit, "engage in deceptive business practices and false advertising" and violate "the Pet Lemon Law."
Defendants Robin Schulder and her husband, Perry Reich, falsely claim to be dog breeders, make "numerous misrepresentations" about their animals, and falsify health records of the dogs, Cuomo says. He adds that Schulder practices as a veterinarian without a license, and makes improper use of the title "veterinarian technician." Cuomo says his office has received 13 complaints against the couple and their companies. Consumers also have complained to the New York Better Business Bureau, the agriculture department and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The couple operates more than a dozen Web sites that lure consumers with empty promises, such as "all our babies are born in our home," according to the complaint.
The sites list puppies with pictures, names, weight, sex, age, price and availability, but Schulder delivers a "markedly different" dog, according to the complaint.
Despite their claims, Cuomo says, the couple resells dogs they bought from third parties.
"Numerous customers purchased animals that suffered from illnesses ranging from parvo, coccidian, mange, acute respiratory infection, pneumonia and life-threatening hypoglycemia," according to the complaint.
Some consumers pay up to $3,000 in veterinary bills "trying to nurse the animals back to health," but one dog died and two had to be euthanized because of severe medical issues, according to the attorney general.
Cuomo says the couple delivers dogs with visible defects, including deformed limbs and blindness, as well as signs of illness such as coughing, sneezing, bloody stool or vomiting.
When consumers demand reimbursement for veterinary care or try to return a puppy, Cuomo says, Schulder becomes verbally abusive, "lashing out at them with vicious obscenities, and blaming them for their dogs' illnesses or death."
Cuomo says that Schulder once answered the door holding a large kitchen knife, and when a veterinarian diagnosed a puppy with congenital blindness, Schulder insisted that the consumer had dropped the puppy on its head.
Cuomo adds that one of their Web sites claims: "'Some of our puppies are imported from our family-owned kennel in Europe.' This is an outright lie. Respondents do not have a family-owned kennel in Europe."
They claim their "No-Kill Animal Shelter" has rescued dogs throughout New York's five boroughs and has "over 2,000 supporters and donators," but Cuomo says they "have been unable, however, to produce any records whatsoever identifying any dogs they have rescued, and admit that their 'animal rescue charity,' the Animal Rescue Unit Inc., is inactive."
Cuomo seeks an injunction, accounting, restitution and civil penalties.