2 Maryland pet stores banned from selling puppies

Two Maryland pet stores that specialize in puppy sales will no longer be allowed to sell animals, and the owner is facing a $500,000 civil penalty after reaching an agreement with the state attorney general.

Just Puppies retail pet stores in Rockville and Towson, along with the stores’ owner, Mitchell Thomson, were charged in June with violating two state laws – the No More Puppy-Mills Act and the Consumer Protection Act — in their practice of selling puppies.

“The settlement prevents Just Puppies from selling dogs in Maryland, provides restitution to Maryland consumers who purchased puppies that had a congenital disorder or hereditary condition or illness at the time of purchase, and imposes civil penalties,” according to a statement Friday from the office of Attorney General Brian Frosh.

The No More Puppy-Mills Act bans the sale of dogs and cats by retail pet stores, in an effort to curb the sourcing of animals from irresponsible breeders.

Frosh’s office contends that the stores misled consumers about their relationships with breeders and continued to sell puppies after the City of Rockville revoked the store’s pet shop license.

“This settlement resolves allegations that Just Puppies and its owner violated laws intended to protect animals from irresponsible breeding and mistreatment,” Frosh said in the statement. “Consumers who were misled by Just Puppies and purchased sick dogs will get their money back or receive compensation to help pay for their pet’s care.”

As part of the settlement, Just Puppies has agreed to refund payments to customers who purchased dogs with certain conditions since Jan. 1, 2020 — the day the No More Puppy-Mills Act went into effect — or pay for treatment of certain conditions.

The settlement also requires Just Puppies to pay a civil penalty of up to $500,000, but the fine could be reduced to $100,000 if the company complies with the remedies in the agreement.

Consumers who are eligible for refunds will be contacted by the Attorney General’s Office. Consumers can also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6569 with questions.

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal levels for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

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