Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING HOLDS SERVICE DOGS BY WARREN RETRIEVERS' FOUNDER ACCOUNTABLE FOR DECEIVING CONSUMERS
~ Charles D. Warren, Jr. to pay restitution to consumers and have a lifetime ban from charitable organizations and breeding, training, or selling companion animals ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is holding Charles D. Warren, Jr., the founder of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR), accountable for deceiving consumers. Attorney General 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,” 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.”
Attorney General 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.
Mr. 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; and
- 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 Mr. Warren, Attorney General Herring previously recovered over $90,000 in sanctions, in a prior enforcement action against Mr. Warren and SDWR, that will be applied to restitution and distributed to consumer victims.
Attorney General Herring's settlement with Mr. Warren is in the form of a Consent Judgment, which was approved by the Madison County Circuit Court on August 11, 2021.
In May 2020, SDWR filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the Western District of Virginia Bankruptcy Court. Despite SDWR's attempt to prevent him from doing so, Attorney General Herring sought, and was granted, permission by the bankruptcy court to continue his litigation against SDWR. That litigation ended in a Judgment and Permanent Injunction against SDWR, that was entered on August 4, 2021. The Attorney General expects to recover additional funds for distribution to consumer victims from the SDWR bankruptcy proceeding.
This matter was handled by Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section. During Attorney General Herring's administration, the Consumer Protection Section has undergone a significant reorganization and expansion, and it has recovered more than $410 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators.
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