YONKERS, N.Y. – A Central Park Avenue pet store has been fined $20,000 for selling sick puppies and housing animals in squalid conditions, the state attorney general said.
Exotic Pet Warehouse, Inc., doing business under the name Puppies Puppies Puppies, and its owner, Louis Gaudio, will also have to pay restitution to any customers who purchased sick animals, according to a settlement with the state announced Wednesday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
An investigation of the store at 650B Central Park Ave., revealed animals were kept in unsafe and inhumane conditions, the attorney general said. Meanwhile the owner engaged in “deceptive and illegal business practices” by lying about how the animals were bred and selling sick puppies, Schneiderman said.
As part of the agreement, Gaudio’s store will be required to maintain clean animal housing, properly vaccinate animals and monitor their health. The store has also agreed to stop selling sick animals.
Gaudio did not return multiple calls for comment.
Schneiderman’s announcement of the settlement with the Yonkers pet store comes as part of a larger, state-wide effort to crack down on “puppy mills” and criminal dog fighting rings. Dubbed the Animal Protection Initiative, the program will use civil and criminal penalties to help curb animal cruelty and dishonest sales of pets.
In his announcement, Schnedierman said animal cruelty was a “gateway crime,” adding it was both a consumer protection issue and a public safety issue.
“There is a direct correlation between the dog fighting rings and other criminal enterprises, including gangs, gambling and illegal drugs, that put our communities at risk,” he said.
Yonkers has been no stranger to animal abuse cases in recent weeks. In March, a nine-month-old pit bull was euthanized as a result of injuries authorities said were likely sustained after it was used as a “bait dog” in a dog-fighting ring.
Less than two weeks later, an arrest warrant was issued for a man accused of throwing a 5-week-old kitten out a third-floor window of a Yonkers building.
Animal advocates hailed the attorney general’s initiative as a way to protect animals against abuse.
“This initiative says loud and clear, to everyone, that there’ll be a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.
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