782 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Date and time of investigation: November 2, 2020; 12:30 pm
Number of dogs in store: Approximately 15 in the front of the store; more in back area that was not accessible to customers
Upon entering the store, I saw four cages in the left front window, each containing one puppy. There were four cages in the right front store window, though these were empty. The cages in the store windows were glass on all four sides with wire flooring. I also saw approximately twenty cages along the inside left wall of the store, about half of which contained puppies. These cages had glass on three sides, with a solid white wall on the back side. All cages in the store were completely enclosed, and each one appeared to have its own climate control. The cages with puppies had small rubber resting pads. There was no shredded paper on the floors of the cages.
The cages containing puppies had cage cards posted that included each puppy’s store identification code, breed, gender, and date of birth. The cage cards did not contain breeder or broker information. A sign above the sales desk, at about 7’ high, read “Information on the source of these dogs and cats and the veterinary treatments received by these dogs and cats is available for review by prospective purchasers.” However, there was no signage posted stating that United States Department of Agriculture inspection reports were available to customers upon request, which is a violation of N.Y.C. Admin. Code, Title 17 Health, Chapter 17 Pet Shops, §17-1703 c, which states that every pet shop selling dogs or cats must post conspicuously in one-hundred point type: “United States Department of Agriculture inspection reports are available upon request.”
I had scheduled an appointment before my visit, per the store’s policy, to see French Bulldog puppies. I looked at four different puppies individually. I asked, “Where do these guys come from?” A store employee (white Caucasian male named Blake, approximately 5’10,” 185 pounds, brown hair combed back, clear plastic face guar; hereinafter Employee 1) replied, “They’re all American. They come from licensed American breeders that are regulated by the USDA. They have like a clean inspection record and we show you all that. And um the parents are from, so like Arkansas, Missouri, yeah. That’s where we get them.” I then asked, “So these are breeders you guys work with?” Employee 1 replied, “Yes. Licensed breeders.” Asking for clarification, I stated, “I don’t understand what that means.” Employee 1 replied “So they have to like, um, there are some breeders you know that aren’t on the up and up, but like we get from like good, licensed breeders … they pass their inspection records and all that.” I also asked, “Do you guys go there? Do you know, like, have you met these breeders yourselves?” Employee 1 replied “I haven’t, but the company has.”
Later in the investigation, I got a similar assurance from the store manager (Asian female named Kyoung Jang, approximately 5’6,” 125 pounds, medium length dark brown hair, blue face mask) when I asked, “How do you guys know that they don’t come from bad places if you can’t see them?” She replied, “That’s why we have to use USDA. That way we can get approved. The breeders already got checked up ….” I asked, “The breeders what? I’m sorry?” She replied “… got checked up on the conditions.” Employee 1 further clarified by saying, “The inspection.”
The above statements made by Employee 1 and the manager are all false and misleading, as it will be shown that not all puppies in the store come from American breeders with USDA licenses, and therefore it is highly unlikely that the store visits its breeders. These will be discussed in more detail below.
Later in the investigation, when I asked to see the paperwork for two different puppies, the manager stated, “You need to choose one because this is personal information.” Refusing to provide this information upon request is a violation of New York GBS Article 35D §753-B 2 & 4. Information on the source of pet shop dogs anc cats and veterinary treatment received, as defined under section 2, must be available for review by prospective purchasers, as definied in section 4.
I then chose to see paperwork for a female French Bulldog puppy. The manager showed me a USDA inspection report listing Larry W. Graber of Loogootee, Indiana (USDA #32-A-0201). When I asked for an explanation of what I was looking at, she told me that the USDA checks on conditions at the breeding facilities. I said, “That’s great that the USDA does that. Wow.” She then stated, “They come here, too.” This statement is false and misleading, as the USDA has no role in visiting and monitoring pet shops. The New York Department of Agriculture & Markets is responsible for licensing and inspecting pet shops in state. In addition, New York City Department of Health oversees enforcement of the city’s pet shop ordinance. This statement was made to provide a false sense of assurance in the store’s business practices and is therefore in violation of New York GBS Article 22-A §349 (a), which states: “Deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state are hereby declared unlawful.”
Later in the investigation, I looked at a blue male French Bulldog puppy. I asked “Where did this one come from?” The manager replied, “Missouri.” Shortly thereafter, I asked to see paperwork for the blue male French Bulldog puppy. She left and then returned with a folder of papers. She pointed to a Hungarian Certificate of Vaccination (see Hungarian Certificate of Vaccination) that listed Puptown as the owner of the puppy. The certificate was stamped and dated by a veterinarian named Dr. Sin Zoltan located in Balaton, Hungary (see Verified Seal of Hungarian Veterinary Chamber). The manager said, “I think the breeder got the, the parents were I think from Hungary ….” I asked for clarification by saying, “So it’s a Hungarian doctor?” She replied, “Yeah, I think the parents are. Yeah, the parents are.” I probed further by asking, “So, I don’t understand; the parents are in Hungary?” The manager again confirmed her previous statement by saying, “I think so. This one is, yeah…and the kennel [is] here. Yeah.” When I said, “That doesn’t make sense to me,” the manager stated, “Um, I don’t know. This one is from Missouri for sure, but the rabies shot…” I interjected “… is a Hungarian doctor?” The manager replied “Uh huh.” Employee 1 explained: “So the puppy was born here, but the parents are Hungarian.” The manager agreed by stating, “Yeah.”
I then referenced the USDA inspection report provided to me by the manager for the puppy with the Hungarian certificate of vaccination. The inspection report was for USDA-licensed breeder Deborah Warren of Pierce City, Missouri (see USDA Inspection Report for Deborah Warren). I stated, “But if the parents are Hungarian, then the puppy was born in Hungary, not Pierce City, Missouri.” The manager said, “No the puppy was born in …,” and Employee 1 interjected “… born in America.” The manager confirmed this by stating, “Yeah.” Employee 1 then added, “But the parents are Hungarian.” I asked for clarification by stating, “But living in America?” Employee 1 replied, “Yes,” and the manager confirmed, “Yeah, living in America.”
Given the fact that, per the certificate of vaccination and the employee’s own statements, the puppy was vaccinated in Hungary by a Hungarian veterinarian, and his parents were Hungarian, it seems obvious that the puppy was also born in Hungary. Otherwise, how could the puppy have been born in America, vaccinated in Hungary, then returned to and offered for sale in America? The employees’ statements that the puppy was born in America and bred by a USDA breeder whose facility was inspected by the USDA are extremely false and misleading. Therefore, the numerous statements and assurances made by both employees that all the puppies at the store and this one puppy in particular were bred in America are violations of New York GBS Article 22-A §349 (a), which states: “Deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state are hereby declared unlawful.”
Additionally, the manager is in violation of §349 (a) for providing me with a USDA inspection report for breeder Deborah Warren, who was clearly not the breeder of the puppy with Hungarian paperwork.
Furthermore, and most egregiously, Puptown is in violation of United States Federal law by importing and offering for sale a puppy less than 6 months old The date of birth for this puppy as shown on its Certificate of Vaccination was 6-20-2020, thus making the puppy 4 months and 13 days old on the date of my investigation. 7 U.S.C §2148 (b)(1)(C) – Importation of Live Dogs states that no person shall import a dog into the United States for resale unless that dog is at least 6 months of age.
Shortly thereafter, as I was taking a photo of the USDA inspection report for breeder Deborah Warren, the manager said, “You can’t take photo of this, I’m sorry …. I mean this is personal information. If you’re signing it, that’s fine.” I said “Oh, I thought that [the information on the USDA Inspection Report] was for me.” She replied, “I mean, you didn’t sign yet.” I said “Oh I’m sorry; I thought that I was going to google this breeder.” The manager stated, “That’s why we are not allow [sic] customer to take photo. This is their personal license number so we cannot share, like, allow you to do that, I mean, before you purchase. This is yours, but we don’t let people take photo of the breeder info. This is their life, you know? The license information.” The manager’s refusal to let me take a photo of the breeder information is a violation of New York GBS §753-B 2 & 4.
Breeder information provided to me by store employees during the course of this investigation:
- Larry W. Graber, N. 1000 E., Loogootee, IN (USDA # 32-A-0201)
- Deborah Warren, 6118 Lawrence 2220, Pierce City, MO (USDA # 43-A-3278) (note this is most likely not the actual breeder since this puppy was vaccinated for rabies in Hungary)