Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 47° Clear
News >  Nation

Iowa sues to shut down national puppy-laundering ring

Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is suing to shut down what it describes as a national puppy-laundering ring that sells dogs from illegal breeding operations at inflated prices while pretending the animals are rescues.

The lawsuit filed Monday seeks an injunction to dissolve breeder J.A.K.’s Puppies, and nonprofits Hobo K9 Rescue and Rescue Pets Iowa Corp, Attorney General Tom Miller’s Office said in a news release . The lawsuit also alleges four ringleaders – Jolyn Noethe, Kimberly Dolphin, Megan Peterson, and Russell Kirk – violated Iowa’s consumer fraud act.

The operations sold almost 1,300 animals in California, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey for more than $700,000 from 2016 to 2018, the lawsuit said. None of the puppies – including Pomeranians, Shar-Peis, Alaskan Malamutes, Poodle-Yorkies – were re-homed in Iowa.

“No matter where they live, consumers should not be misled about the source of the pets they buy,” Miller said. “Puppy laundering obscures the identity of breeders who may have animal welfare violations or other problems.”

The state is seeking $40,000 in fines per violation, plus reimbursement to defrauded customers.

Kirk, who is the president of Rescue Pets, declined to comment to the Des Moines Register. Noethe, Dolphin, Peterson are all officers with Hobo K9 and J.A.K.’s. The newspaper was unable to reach them for comment.

J.A.K.’s acquired the animals from puppy mills then sold them to Hobo K9, which sold them for profit, the lawsuit said. Animal welfare groups say puppy mills are cruel; they breed the animals constantly and force them to live in cramped, often dirty conditions.

Miller’s office began investigating the groups in June 2018, prompting the alleged ringleaders to create a “brand-new sham charity” called Rescue Pets Iowa Corp. in December last year, the lawsuit said.

The nonprofit’s fees are “extravagant” and the animals being sold were all puppies, a vast departure from legitimate rescues that typically charge minimal fees and primarily offer older animals, the state said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.



American families feeling the pinch of COVID-19 pandemic

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index asked about 1,330 adult Americans in different income brackets a variety of questions, including how their finances are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy COUNTRY Financial)
Sponsored

The year 2020 hasn’t been the most forgiving year for families and their pocketbooks.