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Service dog case settled

Service dog case settled

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Service Dogs by Warren Retriever

Local nonprofit Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers has been under investigation for several years regarding its claims of supplying alert dogs for diabetics and those with autism.

Charles “Dan” Warren, owner of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR), has been ordered to pay restitution to victims after deceiving consumers.

Last week, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that Warren has entered into an agreement in the years long case against him. The case was first filed in the spring of 2018 with Herring alleging violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law. The suit alleges the company sold “diabetic alert dogs” for tens of thousands of dollars, but delivered poorly-trained puppies with behavioral issues and inadequate skills or training. The suit also alleges the company misled customers and donors about certain aspects of the business’s payment structure and lied about Warren having served in the Marines.

Since then, the suit wound its way through the Madison County Circuit Court, most recently resulting in a default judgement against the organization. Numerous consumers were listed in that judgement with restitution totaling approximately $350,000 and a constructive trust of $1.175 million.

The agreement announced last week orders Warren to pay a portion of the restitution he owes, providing he completes the agreement’s terms, and have a lifetime ban from charitable organizations and breeding, training or selling companion animals.

“Not only did Dan Warren deceive consumers across the country, his reckless actions put people’s health at risk by selling them purported service dogs that were little more than untrained puppies,” said Attorney General Herring. “Families rely on service dogs to help them and lying about what these animals can do could leave them with absolutely no protection against a life-threatening situation. I am incredibly proud of my Consumer Protection team for their hard work and dedication on this case and we will continue to hold those bad actors who take advantage of Virginians accountable.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Warren will have a judgement entered against him for $514,406.39 in restitution for affected consumers; $1,447,919.18 to the Commonwealth for the use and benefit of charitable organizations that support those or similar purposes for which the funds were collected by SDWR; $822,500.00 to the Commonwealth for civil penalties; and $279,200.75 to the Commonwealth for attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in investigating and litigating the case. He must pay $40,000 toward the restitution amount for consumers. The remainder, as well as the collection of civil penalties and attorneys’ fees will be suspended, providing Warren complies with the injunctive terms. These include lifetime prohibitions from holding any fiduciary position or office or otherwise being employed by any charitable or nonprofit organization in any jurisdiction; soliciting donations for any charitable or nonprofit organization; holding any fiduciary or office in any organization or corporate entity that raises, breeds, trains, sells or places companion animals or agricultural animals; being employed by or receiving any compensation from any organization or corporate entity that raises, breeds, trains, sells or places companion or agricultural animals or otherwise receiving compensation from the same; and violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law.

In addition to the $40,000 that will be paid in restitution, $90,000 in sanctions was recovered in a prior enforcement action against Warren and SDWR that will be applied to restitution and distributed to consumer victims. Additional funds are expected to be recovered via SDWR’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy case which was settled earlier this summer.

Herring’s announcement cancels a three week trial that was scheduled for October in Madison County Circuit Court.

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