Va. service-dog company ordered to pay $3 million
MADISON, Va. (AP) — The founder of a Virginia service-dog company could pay about $3 million in restitution and other penalties to settle a lawsuit that accused him of deceiving customers and providing them ill-trained animals.
An agreement signed by a judge this past week ends litigation initially filed in 2018 by state Attorney General Mark Herring against Charles D. Warren Jr. and his Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers firm, originating in Madison County.
Herring’s office said in a news release that Warren’s dogs purportedly could assist people who have diabetes, autism and other disorders. But customers often were delivered poorly trained puppies with behavioral issues and inadequate training, The Daily Progress of Charlottesville reported. Warren charged $18,000 to $27,000 per animal, according to the lawsuit.
An amended lawsuit also alleged Warren misled customers and others in part about its affiliation with law enforcement agencies.
Under the consent judgment, which includes no admission of wrongdoing, Warren must pay $514,000 in restitution to consumers, $1.1 million to Virginia in civil penalties and legal expenses and over $1.4 million for charities that support purposes for which the company collected funds.
The collection of civil penalties and attorneys’ fees will be suspended if he meets conditions that in part require him to stay out of service dog-breeding business. Warren now lives in Florida, the judgment says.