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Tag: dr. phil

Virginia files lawsuit against company whose service dogs were “little more than pets”

diabetic

After years of complaints — and enough controversy and drama to rate an episode of Dr. Phil — the investigation into a company that supplies service dogs for diabetics and others has led to the filing of a lawsuit by Virginia’s Attorney General.

The lawsuit against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers was filed Tuesday in Madison County Circuit Court, accusing the company of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act by charging $18,000 to $27,000 for 3-month-old Labrador retriever puppies that were unable to perform their task and had apparently received little or no training.

The company billed its dogs as highly trained lifesaving tools that were able to alert diabetics to dips or spikes in their blood sugar level by nudging them with a nose or a paw.

But what customers received, according to the lawsuit, were “little more than incredibly expensive pets” — some of them unable to walk properly on leashes, respond when called, or remain calm around loud noises or new people.

Customers were told that they would receive ample “scent training,” but that never came, and customer requests for assistance were regularly ignored, the lawsuit says.

“This suit alleges not just dishonest and unlawful business practices, but a recklessness that could have endangered the lives of customers who relied on the claims made by Service Dogs and its owner,” Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring said.

The lawsuit followed a lengthy investigation based on complaints from more than 50 customers, Herring’s office said.

In 2016, some of them appeared on a Dr. Phil episode about the company.

In addition to deceiving customers about the company’s dogs, the suit alleges, owner Charles D. Warren Jr. illegally encouraged them to solicit charitable donations. He also lied about having served in the military, according to the suit.

That lawsuit seeks restitution for customers as well as civil penalties and attorneys’ fees, The Washington Post reported.

On behalf of the company, John B. Russell Jr., an attorney representing the company, denied the allegations, saying “we absolutely deny that we have ever set out to mislead, cheat or defraud our many happy clients.”

Diabetic-alert dogs use their sensitive noses to detect fluctuations in blood-sugar levels, but studies on their effectiveness have been mixed.

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers promised customers that assigned dogs possessed a “proven scent ability” and that they could be trained to seek help or even dial 911 on special devices, according to the attorney general’s lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, though, dogs arrived at consumers’ homes with no training and no apparent abilities to alert clients to shifts in their blood sugar levels.

The dogs have been sent to customers across the country, and the complaints range from Texas to Florida, where a woman says they stopped paying for the dog they received — only to be sued by the company.

Jovana Flores said the diabetic-alert dog for her 13-year-old son did little more than serve as a pet.

“In hindsight, now, maybe I should have been a little bit smarter, but you’re looking for any bit of hope,” Flores said.

(Photo: Service Dogs by Warren Retriever website)

Dr. Phil, Rescue Ink and Paris Hilton

Dr. Phil’s not one of my favorites — nor are most of the others who appeared on his show yesterday — but at least the program brought the scourge of dogfighting to the afternoon TV talk show forefront.

In addition to Rescue Ink and Paris Hilton, the show featured Rob Rogers, former leader of a dogfighting ring who said “animal fighting has nothing to do with violence whatsoever” — even though he admitted to killing a “couple hundred” dogs.

He was such a moron that even Paris Hilton, by comparison, appeared scholarly when she came on the show to promote dog adoptions and said of dogfighters, “I kind of want to punch them in the face.”

Dr. Phil said on his blog that the show was intended to “shine a harsh spotlight on the animal abuse that still plagues our country.

“We’re not only going after people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to leave their pets cramped in cages with little or no water and blatant neglect, we’re going after those professional ‘dogfighters’ who diligently train their pit bulls to fight other pit bulls to the death and every other form of abuse.”

Top Dogs and Their Pets

Celebrities and their pets are the subject of a new photo book by David Woo, a Texas photographer who says Steve Miller and his three dogs proved the most difficult image to capture.

Woo, a photographer for the Dallas Morning News, includes 91 celebritities — most of them with Texas connections — in the book, “Top Dogs and Their Pets.”

topdogscoverOther subjects include Owen Wilson, Joe Cocker, Robert Wagner, Cesar Millan, Lisa Loeb, James Baker, Dr. Phil and Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot propelled to fame by his emergency landing in the Hudson River, according to the Houston Chronicle.  All the photos are black and white, shot against a white background.

Woo said he spent four days at the home of his friend Miller, whose dogs — Lady, Daisy and Maisey — wouldn’t sit still.

Proceeds from Top Dogs and Their Pets go to the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation.

(For more dog book news and reviews, visit our Good Dog Reads page.)