Two pet stores in Towson and Rockville have reached a settlement with the Maryland attorney general’s office after being charged with consumer violations for allegedly selling puppies.
The settlement with Just Puppies of Maryland Inc., Just Puppies Inc. and owner Mitchell Thomson bars the stores from selling dogs in Maryland. Under the agreement, the businesses also must provide restitution to consumers who bought puppies with an illness or disorder and pay civil penalties.
Thomson could not be reached Friday.
The state Consumer Protection Division had alleged the stores violated the Consumer Protection Act and the No More Puppy Mills Act by selling puppies after Jan. 1, 2020, when a new law banning such sales took effect.
Just Puppies had been among several plaintiffs that sued the state in federal court before the law took effect, saying it would violate the U.S. Constitution, conflict with a federal animal welfare law and force retail pet stores out of business.
The law prohibits retail stores from selling dogs or cats, allowing them only to display pets available for adoption through animal welfare organizations or animal control units.
The state had alleged that Just Puppies misled some consumers about its relationship with breeders and continued selling puppies after the city of Rockville revoked the store’s pet shop license.
The settlement resolves the allegations, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said. Consumers who were misled will get money back or compensation to help pay for pets’ care.
Just Puppies also faces a civil penalty of $500,000. If the company complies with all other terms of the settlement and pays $100,000, the remaining penalty could be waived.
Consumers who are eligible for refunds will be contacted by the attorney general’s office. Consumers also may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6569 with questions.