Action 9

‘He could not breathe’: Puppy owner says Ocoee pet store sold her sick lhasa apso

Two Orange County families claim a store sold them sick puppies then didn't cover their vet bills.

Action 9 has uncovered more than a dozen complaints against the Ocoee store. Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich tracked down managers for answers.

Mayra Camacho said her new puppy faced real struggles just a day after she brought him home.

READ: Action 9 investigates Orlando pet store after consumers claim they bought sick puppies

“And the cough, he could not breathe, like he was having severe asthma attacks,” Camacho said.

Camacho bought her Lhasa Apso at Chews A Puppy in Ocoee. She paid $2,700.

She claims vet bills cost her more than $700.

According to Camacho, managers at the store said she would be reimbursed as The Florida Pet Law requires.

“Then I get the letter denying every single bill I submitted,” Camacho said.

READ: Families claim they paid for service dogs that can’t keep them safe

She said she was sold a sick puppy then stuck paying hundreds for veterinary bills within days of buying the dog.

Chews a Puppy is rated F at the Better Business Bureau for not responding to complaints. Two of those complaints involve sick puppies.

Action 9 checked Yelp reviews and found 12 customers claiming they were sold unhealthy dogs since June.

“It was horrible,” said Melissa Lemasters as she held back tears.

Lemasters claims her Australian Shepherd puppy had labored breathing a day after buying him and her vet bills totaled more than $2,000 then her dog died three weeks later.

“It was like something I will never be able to get out of my mind, ever,” an emotional Lemasters said.

She says the store reimbursed her the cost of her puppy but that didn't cover all the bills.

Ulrich went to Chews A Puppy to get answers.

“I'm here about customers who say they were sold sick puppies then got hit with big vet bills,” Ulrich said.

“I'm sorry, give me a second,” said a manager.

Managers told Ulrich they would review the customers’ information. Managers did not return later phone calls.

Since Camacho contacted Action 9, she said a store manager called her and asked her to send the bills again for reimbursement.

“It's not fair to the people in good faith who are trusting them,” Camacho said.

The Florida Pet Law offers protection if you can document your puppy was too sick to sell and gives you the choice of a refund, a replacement, or payment for your vet bills.

If you have disputes about a puppy sale, contact Florida’s Division of Consumer Services.

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