Court Rules That Craigslist Puppy Sellers Neglected Animals & Defrauded Families Banning Traffickers From Selling Dogs Again

Photos By Animal Legal Defense Fund

Following a week-long trial in 2022, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge issued a decision finding that Craigslist puppy traffickers, the Kenneys, committed animal neglect and fraud by selling fatally sick dogs to families. The Court further announced that it will prohibit the family from selling dogs and awarded $100,000 in punitive damages, $10,000 in emotional distress damages for each puppy sold to the purchasers, and compensatory damages for veterinary expenses.

In awarding damages for emotional distress, the Court found that the Kenneys’ scheme was “especially heinous” as the suffering of the puppies from illness resulting in death took an emotional toll on the families. The decision stated: “dogs, who are family, are understandably treated differently from generic property by the legislature and courts alike.”

For years, members of the Kenney family — Trina, Rick, and their adult children Elijah and Jezriel — neglected animals and defrauded consumers in Southern California by misrepresenting the health, age, sex, and breed of puppies they breed and sell through Craigslist and other sites on the internet.

The Court found that the evidence clearly established that the puppies were kept in unsanitary conditions and sick at the time of sale. The Court also observed that the defendants knew their puppies were contracting deadly diseases such as Parvovirus and provided fabricated immunization records to the families. Three of the puppies at issue in the lawsuit died from these diseases, in addition to several others purchased by families not connected to the lawsuit.

The Court granted the injunction based in part on Corporations Code section 10404, a California law that gives the SPCA standing to sue in civil court to enjoin animal law violations.

“This decision sends a clear message that sellers will be held accountable when they engage in animal neglect and fraud,” said Christopher Berry, a Managing Attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Unfortunately, this type of exploitive behavior is common, and families wishing to avoid it should adopt from a shelter or rescue organization.”

“The plaintiffs, who were harassed and intimidated by the defendants after spending weeks trying to save their sick and dying puppies, are grateful that justice has prevailed in this case and that the defendants can never again harm innocent puppies or families with their false advertising scheme,” said attorney Gary Praglin.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of nine plaintiffs who purchased underage and sick puppies from the family between 2018 and 2020. Trina Kenney was previously federally prosecuted and convicted of felony mail fraud for selling abused and sick horses.

The victims’ stories are heartbreaking, like what happened to newlyweds Brittany and Brandon Swigart, who in February 2019 responded to the Kenneys’ Craigslist ad for an 8-week-old mini-labradoodle puppy. The couple paid $1,200 in cash for Winnie, the puppy they were thrilled to add to their new family. The Kenneys said Winnie was 8 weeks old and fully vaccinated — but the Swigarts soon learned that Winnie was only 4 weeks old, had been dyed brown, and had not been vaccinated. Winnie sadly died from a disease just weeks after she was brought to her new home. She contracted the disease because the Kenneys had not provided her with the vaccinations that the Swigarts were told. Winnie never weighed over one pound.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

More on this topic

Popular stories

USDA Urged To Revoke License From Convicted Wildlife Trafficker In Texas

Yesterday, The Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted a complaint urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to...

Three Endangered Humpback Dolphins Were Released Back Into The Ocean After Being Illegally Captured & Sold To A Resort In Bahrain

Some hopeful news as three humpback dolphins have been released more than a year after being illegally captured for display at an aquarium in...

Second Largest Seizure Of Endangered Totoaba Fish Swim Bladders Discovered In San Luis Port, Arizona

Photo credit: Richard Herrmann/Minden Pictures U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists at the Port of San Luis seized 109 pounds of...