- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Sues Shrewsbury Man for Selling Fatally Ill Puppies Out of His Home
Boston — A Shrewsbury man has been sued for allegedly operating an unlicensed and unsanitary pet shop in his home and misrepresenting the health and condition of bulldog puppies he sold to Massachusetts consumers for thousands of dollars, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. Many of the bulldogs he sold to families suffered from serious diseases, or in some cases, died within hours of being purchased.
The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Heath Morse illegally sold puppies out of his home without abiding by the pet shop maintenance or quarantine requirements of the state’s Animal Health Law. The AG’s complaint also alleges Morse failed to obtain the required license to operate a pet shop in the state.
“For many people, getting a dog is like adding a new member of your family – it can be a big financial and emotional investment,” AG Healey said. “We allege this man scammed families out of thousands of dollars, leaving them heartbroken, in serious debt, and in some cases, without the pet they paid for. We are taking this defendant to court to stop him from ever working with animals again.”
Morse, whose businesses included Heath’s Legendary Bulldogs, Dream-A-Bullz, Heath’s English Bulldogs, Heath’s French Bulldogs, and Heath’s Bulldogs, allegedly falsely advertised on various websites and social media platforms that he was a longtime bulldog breeder and that the puppies he sold were healthy, of “show-dog quality,” American Kennel Club certified, pure bred, and veterinarian checked.
However, the AG’s Office alleges that he routinely sold very sick dogs to Massachusetts consumers for thousands of dollars. According to the complaint, these consumers later paid thousands more in veterinary bills after their puppies suffered from serious diseases and, in some cases, died within days or even hours after they were purchased.
The AG’s Office alleges that while Morse advertised that the bulldog puppies were housed in “five-star” living conditions, he was keeping puppies who were infected with contagious diseases alongside the healthy dogs in an outside-fenced in area, which was covered in their own waste. State law requires animals that are suspected to be diseased be quarantined from other animals for at least 10 days.
Despite receiving a cease and desist order and multiple penalties from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Morse allegedly continued to misrepresent the health and condition of his puppies and operate his illegal, unlicensed pet shop.
“By allegedly running an unlicensed pet shop, the defendant not only deceived consumers, but also put the health of many dogs at risk. Pet shop licensure is necessary so that we can ensure compliance with state and federal regulations and protect the health and safety of animals,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux. “The Department of Agricultural Resources is committed to ensuring that all Commonwealth pet shops properly care for their animals and is proud to work with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure justice in this matter.”
The AG’s Office’s complaint seeks restitution for the victims of Morse’s unfair and deceptive conduct, civil penalties, and a permanent injunction preventing Morse from ever selling puppies or falsely advertising puppies again.
The state’s Animal Health Law protects domestic animals in the state and their owners from the spread of contagious diseases by requiring pet shops to be licensed and inspected and to quarantine any sick animals. State laws and regulations require that anyone operating a pet shop maintain it in a sanitary condition, refrain from selling any sick animals, and follow strict isolation, veterinary-check procedures for new dogs or cats and detailed record-keeping requirements. The state’s Consumer Protection Act prohibits fraud affecting consumers, false or deceptive advertising, and other false representations in trade or commerce. The law and its corresponding regulations specifically make it illegal to fail to disclose to a buyer or a prospective buyer any fact, that if disclosed, could influence the buyer not to move forward with the purchase.
This case is being handled by Deputy Division Chief Betsy Harper and Assistant Attorney General Turner Smith, with assistance from Paralegals Michelle Predi and Jessica Young, each of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, as well as Michael Cahill, Director of the Division of Animal Health and Jessica Burgess, Legal Counsel, both of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
For tips on buying a healthy dog in Massachusetts visit MDAR’s website.