AG holds Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers’ founder accountable for deceiving consumers
Attorney General Mark Herring is holding Charles D. Warren Jr., the founder of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, accountable for deceiving consumers.
Herring filed suit against SDWR, a Virginia-based company that sold purported service dogs to consumers nationwide, and Warren for alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law.
As part of the agreement, Warren will have to pay restitution to consumers 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,” Herring said. “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.”
Herring’s lawsuit alleged that SDWR and Warren sold, for tens of thousands of dollars, so-called “service dogs” that purportedly could assist consumers or their families with diabetes, autism, seizure disorders, or post-traumatic stress, but instead consumers often were delivered poorly-trained puppies with significant behavioral issues and inadequate skills or training.
The Amended Complaint also alleged that SDWR and Warren misled customers, charitable donors, and the general public about certain aspects of the business’s payment structure, its affiliation with local police departments, and Warren’s own military service.
Under the terms of the agreement, Warren will have a judgment 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.
Warren must initially pay $40,000 toward the restitution amount for consumers. The collection of civil penalties and attorneys’ fees will be suspended, provided that Mr. Warren complies with the following expansive injunctive terms:
- A lifetime prohibition from holding any fiduciary position or office, or otherwise being employed by, any charitable or nonprofit organization in any jurisdiction.
- A lifetime prohibition from soliciting donations, directly or indirectly, for any charitable or nonprofit organization.
- A lifetime prohibition from holding any fiduciary position or office in any organization or corporate entity that raises, breeds, trains, sells, or places companion or agricultural animals (with the exception of agricultural animals raised for personal use).
- A lifetime prohibition from being employed by or receiving any form of compensation from any organization or corporate entity that raises, breeds, trains, sells, or places companion or agricultural animals (with the exception of agricultural animals raised for personal use), or otherwise receiving any compensation personally from the same.
- A lifetime prohibition on violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law, particularly in the ways alleged in the Attorney General’s Amended Complaint.
In addition to the $40,000 paid by Warren, Herring previously recovered over $90,000 in sanctions, in a prior enforcement action against Warren and SDWR, that will be applied to restitution and distributed to consumer victims.