Part 1: Online business accused of selling sick dogs


by KELI RABON / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist JOHN GIBSON/ KVUE News

Posted on February 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM

The Williams Family was looking for the perfect new puppy. When they went online and spotted a little black and white maltipoo, it was love at first sight.

“She was a sweet little teacup. She was super cute,”  Yolanda Williams said.
But after five days and nearly $1,000 in medical bills, their new puppy, Diva, was dead.
“That’s the worst thing to watch. She just lay there, struggling to breathe,” Williams said.
Leslie and Michael Groff always wanted a dog.
“She had that cute little pink nose and those cute little pink ears,” Leslie Groff said.  
They named her Amelia on the ride home, but that night, she got sick.
“I knew looking at her that she was not going to make it. I knew,” Groff said.
Forty-eight hours later, their brand new puppy died too.
“All of the sudden she had this huge seizure, she just seized up really hard. And that same second, she just stopped,” Groff said.
Two tiny dogs with one fact in common -- both were sold by the same man, Joe Lozano. Lozano and his wife Sylvia Guerra run a website called, selling maltese poodle puppies for $350.
“I was connected to that dog when I saw her picture on the website. We weren't leaving without that dog,” Yolanda Williams said.
“We were sold. Hook, line, and sinker, we were all in,” Joe Williams said.
But within days of picking up their dogs, their puppies showed symptoms of deadly diseases like parvo and distemper. Diseases that caused their dogs to die.
“You feel like you lost part of yourself, just because you watched something suffer. And she did," Groff said.
After both families contacted Lozano, they say he blamed them for the dog's death and he refused to give them their money back.
“He's like, 'your dog is going to die, and it's going to be 100% your fault,'” Groff said.  
Our investigation found over two dozen complaints against
  •          Texas Attorney General – 1
  •          Humane Society of the United States – 4
  •          Better Business Bureau – 24 
The complaints range from a buyer purchasing a puppy but never receiving it, to problems getting refunds, and even a dead dog replaced with a new one that died days later.
So the KVUE Defenders went to the place Lozano sells his puppies to buy a puppy of our own. We picked out a black maltipoo. Lozano said the puppies had just received their vaccinations. 
“She’s got a fresh round of shots for parvo, distemper, parafluenza, and adeno, shes been dewormed for hook and roundworms,” Lozano said.
We paid $350, and signed Lozano's contract.
“I also give you a written guarantee. I give you a week to take it to the vet to verify its healthy, an extra week in case the vet misses anything, if you or your vet notices anything wrong with the dog I offer free treatment, free replacement, or I get you your money back,” said Lozano.
Immediately we took the puppy to the Austin Humane Society for an evaluation with Dr. Katie Luke.
“She looks like she's in relatively good body condition. Not too skinny, not too fat,” Dr. Luke said.
Dr. Luke performed a routine exam -- checking her vitals, then testing her for parvo and distemper. The tests were negative, so she gave the puppy a new round of vaccinations.
“Anytime you see a dog, you're just looking at that point in time. You can say, 'Today, she looks good. I don't see any symptoms of disease,’ but you can't predict what will happen in the next few weeks, depending on what she's been exposed to,” Dr. Luke said.  
Dr. Luke says not all dog viruses are initially detectable. She advises to be wary of warranties that only last a few days or weeks.
“One problem I guess I would say with these type of documents is they specify a certain amount of time. But that's not necessarily the amount of time that all the diseases would emerge if they were exposed to something,” Dr. Luke said.
For two weeks, the puppy was quarantined at the Humane Society, separate and apart from other dogs. After 14 days, she was adopted by one of the veterinarians who was treating her. But days later, the puppy became sick -- first with a cold, then suddenly a seizure.
Twenty-eight days after purchase, the dog tested positive for distemper. Vets made the tough choice to put her down.
“They elected to euthanize her because of her poor status and her terrible prognosis at that point,” Dr. Luke said.  
So we went back to the seller with questions.
Hear what Joe Lozano had to say Friday night on KVUE News Nightbeat in Part II of our investigation!
You can follow investigative reporter Keli Rabon on her Facebook page here.

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