Puppies Bought Online Arrive Sick

Wednesday, October 24th 2007, 9:00 pm
By: News On 6

In today's world we can buy almost anything over the internet, clothes, electronics, even puppies. But what sounds like convenience for a pet buyer could become a nightmare. After months of investigating, The News On 6 discovered an online puppy operation, administered right here in Oklahoma. News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports it's a place where unscrupulous puppy-sellers are safe from the long arm of the law.

Tamara Thorne lives in Weatherford, Texas with her 1-year-old Rottweiler Kino. Kino is happy and healthy now as Tamara's only pet, but that wasn't always the case. When Kino was a puppy he had a sister named Kina.

"She had a little pink bow in her hair," dog owner Tamara Thorne reminisced while looking at pictures.

Tamara bought the puppies last November. She found them on the website nextdaypets.com, where people list puppies for sale and ship them all over the world.

When Tamara picked her puppies up from the Dallas airport she said they were acting strangely, and she knew something was wrong. A trip to the vets office told her what was wrong.

"They had tape worms and they had bacterial infections and their tummies were bloated," said Thorne.

More importantly, the puppies had parvovirus, a deadly disease, extremely contagious for puppies. Tamara's vet said Kino and Kina's chances of living were slim, but Tamara says she couldn't put them to sleep.

"And I was just crying, and I told him, I said, I didn't know what to do because I have a very soft heart for animals," dog owner Tamara Thorne said

Also weighing heavy on her mind was the cost of treating Kino and Kina.

"I was so mad. I got so upset because this whole time they're telling us to start treatment on Kino we'd have to pay $1,000. I had just paid $1,200 to get them, plus we had just paid money at the vet to get their shots and all their medicine, and we didn't know what to do," said Thorne.

Thorne decided to pay for the intense treatment. But after one week, Tamara had a vet bill for several thousand dollars, and one puppy that was only getting worse.

Kina ultimately had to be put to sleep.

When Tamara called the man who sold her the puppies she said he denied any wrongdoing and refused to help pay the vet bills.

"You could tell that he didn't care about those dogs what so ever," said Thorne.

And Tamara is not alone.

"I said are you willing to help me pay for this? I've had this dog for an hour. An hour!" said dog owner Andrea Abramo.

Andrea Abramo lives near Buffalo, New York. She found a Great Dane puppy named Jada on the same website. But when her puppy arrived it was already violently ill.

"I let her out of the cage and she was very sick. She was throwing up so hard she couldn't breathe," Abramo said. "So I just grabbed her, me and my sister ran her to the emergency vet."

According to her vet, Jada was dying, also with parvo, and was put to sleep. The veterinarian said the puppy should have been treated in Oklahoma.

"Well my first inclination was that this is an extremely sick animal that probably shouldn't have been shipped," Veterinarian Dr. James Albert said.

But according to consumer websites, like RipOffReport.com, there are countless other victims with the same story. People from all parts of the country who say they bought sick puppies from the same man, Bill Bartmann of B&B Ranch in Mounds, Oklahoma.

We should note, this is not the well-known Bill Bartmann of Commercial Financial Services.

Most of Bill Bartmann's customers could have avoided their heartache and vet bills with a simple check with the Better Business Bureau. Bill Bartmann and his wife Kristy have had an "unsatisfactory" record for resolving complaints since July of 2004, and B&B Ranch has been "unsatisfactory" since 2006. Those reports could have helped potential buyers for a while, but not now.

In dozens of puppy ads that The News On 6 tracked over the last few months, News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren discovered Mr. Bartmann has stopped using the name B&B Ranch. He even stopped using his own name, making it virtually impossible for potential buyers to find his record.

That's something Tamara Thorne hates to hear.

"It really hurts to think of any other people having to go through what we've gone through and see what we've seen. He's just, he's a monster to me," dog owner Tamara Thorne said.

Tamara says she never went after Bartmann legally, mostly because of the lengthy contract she signed. The News On 6 obtained two other copies of his contracts and all of them protect Bartmann from liability. One contract even says, "In the event your puppy becomes ill due to sickness from parvo virus you understand that you will not hold B&B Ranch responsible for any vet bills, even if the virus was contracted while in the care of B&B Ranch."

Buyers are also instructed to follow several meticulous steps to guarantee their puppy's health. One of those steps includes registering the dog on a website, apiregistry.com, which advertises a 24-hour on-call vet.

But who runs that website? According to a domain name search it's registered to B&B Ranch in Morris, Oklahoma.

In a recorded phone conversation with Bill Bartmann, he admits he runs the website, but he will not say who his 24-hour on-call vet is who guarantees the pet's health.

"What veterinarian do you use?" News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren asked Bill Bartmann of B&B Ranch.

"It's none of your business," Bill Bartmann responded.

"It says that there's a 24-hour on-call veterinarian if you register on that website," Loren said.

"Well, and you know, none of that stuff is any of your business," said Bartmann.

It turns out there's even more to Bartmann's enterprise. News On 6 Jennifer Loren will have more on that part of the story Thursday night, plus we'll tell you how Mr. Bartmann, and others like him, are able to operate these types of businesses in Oklahoma.

Watch the video: Dogs Bought Online Arrive Sick, Owners Say

WEB EXCLUSIVE: How To Find A Good Breeder

Related story:

10/24/2007 Oklahomans Not Protected Against Sick Puppies Bought Online