Action 9

$10K puppy heartache involving store that’s already part of state action

ORLANDO, Fla. — Action 9 investigates a $10,000 puppy nightmare. That’s how much a local family paid for their dog and vet bills before it died three weeks after purchase.

Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich has been looking into the store for several years and the Florida Attorney General already brought a case against the store for selling sick puppies.

The 8-week-old Yorkie was going to mean so much to George Velez and his mom Betzy Lopez.

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Velez bought the puppy from Petland in Waterford Lakes to help his mom, who had been struggling with major medical issues.

“So, we were going through a lot and the household was kind of dark. And a puppy would lighten up the house,” Velez said.

Velez paid more than $6,000 for the Yorkie, that included dog training and VIP vet care. But two days after Velez gave the puppy to his mom, the Yorkie’s mild cough got worse and they took the puppy to Petland’s recommended vet. The family says the puppy didn’t respond to the treatment.

“Their treatment was not working. She was crashing to the point that we were going to lose her. That was in the first week,” Velez said.

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Lopez chose another animal hospital. She claims the new vet diagnosed parasites and pneumonia. They authorized treatment and the vet bills totaled $4,000. She says the emergency vet clinic wanted to charge $4,000 more for a transfusion she couldn’t afford so they took the puppy home despite the vet’s advice.

The dog died the next day, 3 weeks after purchase.

“She got the strength to pick up her legs and look at me for the last time and collapsed and that was the worst feeling in the world,” Lopez said.

The family claims Petland refused to cover their vet bills up to the cost of the puppy, as they requested under Florida’s Pet law.

“Nina was already sick the first day. We went to their recommended vet,” Velez said.

Since 2015 Action 9 investigations found a dozen customers who claim the Petland in Waterford Lakes sold them sick puppies and customers say they lost thousands in vet bills. Many sent their complaints to state regulators.

Just 6 months ago Florida’s Attorney General filed a complaint against Petland Waterford Lakes.

The state accused the store of selling sick puppies, many which died, and then it failed to honor warranties or give customer refunds.

Action 9 checked, since the state’s action, 33 more customers sent the Attorney General complaints against the Petland store and the agency told Ulrich, the litigation is ongoing so it can’t comment.

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Petland in Waterford Lakes told Action 9 the puppy tested negative for parasites at time of sale. A manager said the dog’s owner discontinued hospital care against the vet’s advice, it cannot provide refunds without diagnostic documentation and the company followed all legal requirements.

“It was the most horrible thing to see her suffer,” Lopez said.

Florida’s Pet Law gives consumers protections. Within two weeks from the sale, you could qualify to have vet bills covered, even receive a full refund.

Petland in Waterford Lakes also told Action 9 the health of puppies it sells is a top priority and all complaints to state regulators have been resolved.

Petland Orlando East (Waterford Lakes) response:

“The health and well-being of our puppies is our number one priority, and we were saddened and surprised to hear of the euthanasia of the Velez' Yorkie. Our understanding is that the Velez’s took the puppy to Union Park Animal Hospital three days after purchase and the puppy was suffering from Hypoglycemia and was given fluids and dextrose. A fecal exam was performed and was negative, showing no parasites present. Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar and is caused by puppies not getting an adequate amount of nourishment. The smaller the puppy, the higher the metabolism and the greater the need to monitor the puppy’s food intake. Signed paperwork is attached and shows customer signed a paper explaining Hypoglycemia. All small breed puppies are fed three times per day when in the custody of Petland.”

On October 12, the Velez’s took the puppy to Crystal Creek Animal Hospital. Puppy was hypoglycemic again. Tests, as well as fluids and dextrose were administered. Notes show Dull Mentation (depression and lethargy) and Hypoglycemia as diagnosis. Puppy was hospitalized for 3 days.

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Nineteen days after purchase, which is 10 days past the incubation period of giardia and 5 days past the warranty period under Florida Statute 828.29, the puppy was taken to Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Kissimmee. The puppy tested positive for giardia, which could not have been contracted at the store, as there is a maximum 9-day incubation period.

The documentation also shows that on October 24, the customer signed a “Consent for Release of Patient Against Doctor’s Recommendations” and took the puppy home against the veterinarian’s medical advice. This paperwork is attached as well.

The store has received no further documentation regarding the Yorkie and were extremely surprised to learn it had been euthanized. We are still awaiting vet records with a diagnosis as we cannot provide any reimbursement without a diagnosis and documentation.

The store has followed all legal requirements under Florida Statute 828.29 and the customer signed a document acknowledging the statute.

As for reference to the state Attorney General inquiry, all complaints brought forth to the store owners have been resolved pursuant to the store’s warranty and Florida law

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.