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Maryland attorney general charges pet stores in Towson and Rockville with selling puppies

Two pet stores in Towson and Rockville have been charged with consumer violations by the Maryland attorney general’s office for allegedly selling puppies.

The office’s Consumer Protection Division filed charges against Just Puppies Inc. in Towson and Just Puppies of Maryland Inc. in Rockville.

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The stores and their owner, Mitchell Thomson, were charged with selling puppies in violation of the No More Puppy-Mills Act and the Consumer Protection Act, said Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.

Thomson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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The Puppy Mill Act prohibits retail pet stores from selling cats and dogs. The state law, which took effect Jan. 1, 2020, was designed to curb the sourcing of animals from “puppy mills,” where they are often mistreated.

Just Puppies shifted to an appointment-only model in February 2020, but continued to sell puppies to consumers, according to a statement of charges. The business also is charged with misleading consumers about its relationship with sources of some of its puppies.

“Simply shifting to an appointment-only sales model does not exempt stores from this law that was designed to curb the sourcing of animals from irresponsible breeders,” Frosh said in an announcement.

A violation of the Puppy Mill Act is considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice under the state’s consumer protection laws. The state is seeking to stop the alleged violations as well as seeking possible restitution and penalties.

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A hearing is set for Sept. 12 at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Hunt Valley. Consumers with complaints against the business can contact the Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6559.

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