Questions for online puppy breeder

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PHOENIX - Jessica Urgiles thought she’d found the perfect puppy.

“I've never had one. I really wanted a poodle because I was looking for a really tiny puppy,” she said.

Jessica bought the poodle last month off this website, PurebredBreeders.com, a company that lists Miley Cyrus and Rosie O’Donnell as their clients.
 

The company also does business under the website name BuyPuppiesDirect.com.

“I was really excited,” Jessica said.

But within minutes of having the dog, Jessica says she knew something was wrong.

“Even on the car ride home, she was coughing and sneezing,” she said.

Jessica says Charlie's condition only got worse, so she took her to the vet.

But it wasn't enough.

After having the puppy for just four days, Charlie died.

Jessica says the entire experience has been devastating.

“It was really hard because she was just, she would just cry constantly but not like a high pitch cry like most dogs do,” she continued. “It was just a quiet low-pitched cry because she was in so much pain.”

Weeks after Charlie's death, signs of her life still linger.

Jessica says it's been hard to recover both emotionally and financially, and came to 3 On Your Side for help getting a refund for the dog and $1,000 worth of vet bills.

“They sent me a sick puppy, and then I found out most of her organs were failing and she was really really sick,” she said. “I've never seen any living creature so sick in my entire life.”

Jessica showed 3 On Your Side documents that indicate the puppy came from Oklahoma which she says raised some red flags.

Animal rights activists say Oklahoma is known for its puppy mills.

“Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, all these places are known for producing, being the mass producer of these puppies that end up all over the United States,” Heather Allen, CEO of Halo Animal Rescue in Phoenix said.

Undercover video shows just how cruel puppy mills can be.

Often times, animals are malnourished, they suffer from severe wounds and are ultimately treated as cash crops for the pet trade.

Heather says consumers who purchase these pets are unknowingly supporting the puppy mill industry.

“They're actually putting money back into an industry that if we walked up to we would absolutely drop to our knees and beg for things to be different,” Heather said.

There's no information or evidence to show that Charlie came from a puppy mill.

In fact, there were no puppies at all at the company's headquarters.

We tracked the address listed for PurebredBreeders.com to Florida, hoping to find out more about this business.

All we found was this P.O. Box located inside this UPS store.

In a written response, Purebred Breeders tells 3 On Your Side:

“We are a network of responsible and professional dog breeders. Our organization is made up of many dog lovers who strive to provide healthy puppies to families throughout the country. For example, our Breeder Compliance Officer, who screens and approves all of our organization’s breeders, is a breeder herself of champion Rottweiler’s, with many national awards to her credit. In addition, she is a volunteer with a local rescue group. Another example is our organization’s Medical Director, who is a licensed veterinarian, is also very active in an animal rescue organization and just organized a huge fundraiser walkathon for the local humane society. Individual members of the company also support the ASPCA and the Humane Society and would never work for any organization that does not support animal rights 100 percent. 

Our offices are located in Cooper City, Fla. 

On the infrequent occasions when a puppy gets sick or in this case passes away, we are all deeply saddened. Without exception and with the help of our Medical Director, who is a licensed Veterinarian, we always thoroughly review these matters to determine whether there is something we or our breeders could have done differently. We evaluate breeders on a regular basis looking for any signs that indicate they are not producing anything other than the healthiest puppies. We do this through a system that tracks all customer service issues that are related to the breeder.

It is important to know that we have been trying to do the right thing since this tragedy occurred.

Our review of this particular matter found that the puppy was examined by the breeder’s Veterinarian the day before Ms. Urgiles received her. The puppy was found to be in excellent health. Based on the Vet records that Ms.Urgiles provided us, the puppy was not interested in eating or drinking and then began to develop certain symptoms the day after she arrived. The puppy was then taken to Ms. Urgiles’ Vet two days after its arrival, where she was diagnosed with having hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is usually prevented by making sure small breed puppies eat frequently, approximately every 2-4 hours, and by providing them with a sugar supplement such as Nutrical. This is why we provide extensive written information to each customer prior to delivery of the puppy and follow up with a phone call in which we thoroughly go over the symptoms to watch for and procedures to follow. Attached is a copy of the email sent to Ms. Urgiles and subsequently covered with her on the phone with respect to this issue. Additionally, here is one of the many internet articles on the web for you to review regarding hypoglycemia: http://www.helium.com/items/1326321-toy-puppies-hypoglycemia.

People are often concerned about how to care for a puppy, particularly small breeds. That is why we go to such great lengths to educate our customers about the specific needs of their puppy. We do this through a series of written and verbal communications. We have provided you with some of those examples.

A large portion of cases involving hypoglycemia typically show that the pet owners fail to follow the proper protocols for monitoring and preventing this diagnosis, we have in almost all cases assumed responsibility for this issue when it happens with any puppy we send to a new family. We make every effort to help our owners and their new puppies, but sometimes thing are out of our control. That is why – no matter what – we make every effort to make things right with our customers. We have many trained customer care professionals who do their very best every day to educate each and every customer about the initial care required when the customer’s new family member arrives. Hypoglycemia is at the top of their list. We would ask that you contact some Vets in your area that might be able to assist you in understanding this issue if you have any further questions. 

Our normal procedure is to reimburse our customers for their expenses to treat their puppy and in the rare cases like this one where the puppy passes away, we also reimburse the full amount of the cost of the puppy. Our intentions for handling Ms. Urgiles’ unfortunate experience were no different. Our decision to reimburse Ms. Urgiles was made prior to her contacting you, however we simply required time for our Medical Director, who was out of the office most of last week for meetings and vacation, to review the matter. Rather then give us a reasonable time frame for this review, Ms. Urgiles chose to begin notifying media outlets. Although it may appear that her efforts have sped up the process or influenced our decision to refund her for all expenses, I can assure you that we handled Ms. Urgiles’ unfortunate matter in the same fashion as any other issue, by having our Medical Director perform a thorough review and then making a determination of what we believe to be the right thing to do. That has been and continues to be what guides our decisions. Although we had already determined last
week to refund Ms Urgiles the full purchase price of her puppy, we needed our Medical Director to review the Vet bills this week to confirm the amount of reimbursement to be made related to those costs. Although we have still not received her Vet bills, we have committed to full reimbursement based on her word.

Despite our organization’s best efforts to resolve each and every issue that comes to our attention whether health related or other, we are sometimes faced with unreasonable demands and/or not given an appropriate amount of time to properly review the case at hand. Customers will many times begin notifying outside agencies, posting messages on forums and simply jumping to the conclusion that we are not going to help them before they actually give us a reasonable chance to resolve the issue. This does not happen very often, but when it does, it is usually simply because we ask customers to have their Vet records sent to us for review and to be given the time to confer with both the customer’s Vet and the breeder’s Vet in an effort to uncover what went wrong and sometimes just as important, what can be done to prevent it from happening again to someone else. This is how we learn as an organization and how we improve our communications and
procedures for the future. It is also a necessary step in order to determine how we can best resolve any customer service issue that arises. We also never forget that we are dealing with people’s emotions, and like in this case, we try to expedite the process to the
best of our abilities. 

We do extensive due diligence to ensure that our breeders are registered with the American Kennel Club or other oversight organizations and we take great strides to avoid any association with breeders that do not meet our high standards. We take pride in our efforts to do the right thing. Once again, we are animal lovers who will not stand for any improprieties in breeding.”

The Florida Attorney General's Office says it's received four people have complained to thier citizen services office regarding Pure Bred Breeders LLC. The company has a C- rating with the Better Business Bureau.

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-Animal rights activists say legitimate puppy breeders are willing to let you come to their house and meet the parents of the puppy

-They offer no sales contract.

- Puppies should be no younger than 12 weeks old when they are sold.

- The breeder should be willing to take the dog back if something happens, no matter what.