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."