UPDATE (3/4/19) – San Luis Obispo County Animal Services has said it has received documentation regarding Bark Adoption’s 501 C-3 status as it requested from Animal Kingdom.
However, it should take a few days for all of these documents to fully review, which means Animal Services is not taking any action against Animal Kingdom at this time.
Animal Kingdom, which has stores in Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and Santa Maria, has been asked to provide documents showing it is working with a legitimate non-profit rescue or refuge.
Under a new California law, pet stores that cannot provide this proof could be fined $ 500 per dog.
In January, KSBY reported on a new California law that allows pet stores to sell cats, dogs and rabbits only if they are from a rescue organization or shelter.
Since then, we have received complaints from viewers who say that several local pet stores still sell purebred puppies for thousands of dollars.
Animal Kingdom, which operates in Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, and Grover Beach, sells a variety of animals, including dogs. San Luis Obispo County Animal Services say the company caught their attention during a recent annual inspection.
“We require every pet store to resubmit an application every year, which involves an inspection and assessment of the facility,” said Dr. Eric Anderson, director of animal services for San Luis Obispo County.
Dr Anderson says Animal Kingdom has been given a March 1 deadline to prove their dogs are from a legitimate rescue or refuge. If they are unable to provide evidence, they face fines of $ 500 per dog.
According to disclosure documents from pet dealers obtained by KSBY News, some of the puppies are from an organization called Bark Adoptions in Menifee, California.
Bark Adoptions registered as a national nonprofit association in California in November 2018, but it did not receive 501 C-3 status with the IRS.
The state franchise tax board has confirmed that Bark Adoptions is not currently exempt from tax in California. San Luis Obispo County officials say this means Animal Kingdom may have been breaking the law for almost two months.
Over the course of several weeks, KSBY News made several attempts to call and visit the owner of Animal Kingdom.
After leaving several messages, we still have not received a response.
Veterinary inspection forms from the Iowa Department of Agriculture show that some of the purebred dogs that go through Bark Adoptions are from a group called Rescue Pets Iowa.
If these records are correct, that means the dogs travel at least 2,000 miles from Ottumwa, Iowa, to Menifee, Calif., Ending up in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
“Why are they doing this? These rescues were trained to circumvent these laws. Whether it’s by city ordinance or state law, that’s why they were created, ”said Deborah Howard, president of the Companion Animal Protection Society.
Howard says dozens of pet stores across California get their dogs from Bark Adoptions and at least two other companies.
“Animal Friends of the Valley in Riverside County has already issued 60 citations to pet stores, which are primarily located in Temecula,” Howard added.
Experts call the shelters a “loophole” in the new law.
“Business operations, which work with puppy mills and this factory breeding industry, have the potential to fill out paperwork and register as a non-profit organization. Then that organization essentially becomes an intermediary nonprofit, ”said Dr. Anderson.
This is something Howard is determined to change.
“The next step is that we are going to ask the legislature to change this law. There was a loophole in the law that allowed these rescues to form, ”Howard added.