CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island pet rescue has been accused of selling sick dogs to families and breaking owners' hearts.
As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, a court has ordered the Calverton dog rescue called Precious Pups to close its doors after complaints that neglected dogs were being rescued, then simply resold.
The owners, however, claim they're saving animals' lives and plan to fight to reopen.
The rescue is accused of taking van loads of dogs from kill shelters nationwide, then adopting them out for $300 to $600 -- much more than the typical rescue fee, Gusoff reported.
"This is just a money making operation," said animal advocate Lisa Ludwig. "This is not how a rescue works."
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said complaints came in that Precious Pups adopted out sick dogs that they claimed were healthy.
"The representations they made about the health of the dogs, that they received veterinary treatment were all false," said Schneiderman. "We subpoenaed them, they refused to comply with the subpoena."
Deborah Maffettone claims she adopted a poodle that died 36 hours later of starvation.
"We've got eight dogs documented that came out of the shelter with 20 percent less body weight," Maffettone said.
"This is a dog flipping operation," said Ludwig. "So many people have been stuck with thousands of dollars in vet bills and dead dogs too."
The owner of Precious Pups, Laura Zambito, invited CBS 2's cameras inside, though she turned down a request to see most of the 75 dogs she said are there. Zambito called the case a personal vendetta by opponents.
"We will be telling the truth in court. We will be presenting the facts with our attorney. So there is no further comment," she said.
Gusoff did speak with one satisfied customer.
"They were all healthy and beautiful," said customer Bob Oleksiak.
But some say the case highlights the fact that anyone can call themselves a rescue.
"Our main goal and the big picture here is to regulate rescue," said Maffettone.
For now the dogs will be cared for at Precious Pups until a hearing next Tuesday.
The attorney general said his investigation is underway to determine if fraud occurred and if conditions at the rescue endanger animals, Gusoff reported.
The restraining order prevents Precious Pups from selling, adopting out or fostering any dogs until it complies with the attorney general's demands for documents and records.
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