Attorney general shuts down Jacksonville puppy mill

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Attorney General's Office said it has obtained a temporary injunction and asset freeze against five Jacksonville residents in connection with the illegal importation, breeding and sale of English bulldog puppies.

Brook Roque, Anthony Roque, Glenda Roque, Kassaundra Buttram and Michelle Echols operated as Five Star Bulldogs, Grand Bulldogs, Matrix Bulldogs, Brook's Bullies and Remarkabull and used several websites to solicit sales, investigators said.

They said the defendants sold more than 700 English bulldogs ranging from $1,500 to $2,300 each, totaling more than $1 million in potential profits. Many of the puppies sold suffered from congenital defects, parasites or other serious health or behavioral issues, investigators said.

"These individuals not only allegedly deceived families seeking to purchase a healthy and properly certified family pet, but they also allegedly jeopardized the puppies' health in order to make money," said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

In 2012, Brook Roque faced similar accusations of being a bad dog breeder. When News4Jax confronted him two years ago, he said he'd done nothing wrong, and with any purchase, it's "buyer beware."

"My response to that is those 12 to 15 negative complaints do not outweigh the 688 positive dog sales I've had over the past five or six years," Brook Roque said in 2012.

According to the current investigation, the defendants bred dogs with 10 other breeders and illegally imported 5-week-old puppies from Colombia, South America. Investigators said they operated without a breeder's permit and failed to quarantine imported dogs as required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We've done nothing illegal," Anthony Roque told News4Jax by phone. "There has been no abuse to any animals. We've bred one dog twice, and sold the puppies that way. These allegations are just ridiculous."

The defendants advertised that their dogs came with a valid health certificate proving they were properly vaccinated, a health guarantee, a pedigree, and were certifiable with the American Kennel Club, investigators said. They said the defendants failed to provide consumers with the required health certificate entitled the Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection that certifies the dogs were inspected by a licensed veterinarian and received the proper vaccinations or medical care.

Investigators said the defendants also failed to provide the written consumer notice advising consumers of their rights under Florida law. Instead, the defendants forged and fabricated health certificates and consumers later discovered their dogs suffered from congenital defects, parasites or other serious health or behavioral issues, investigators said.

They said consumers were denied American Kennel Club registration due to the defendants' suspended AKC privileges, or they learned their dog's AKC documents contained false information. For example, one AKC certificate outlining the dog's pedigree and lineage had the puppy's birthday listed as being born before the mother, investigators said.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction, restitution to consumers, civil penalties and attorney's fees and costs. The temporary injunction prohibits the defendants from engaging in the solicitation, importation, breeding or sale of any dog. The asset freeze prohibits the defendants from concealing or squandering assets that could be used for consumer restitution.