A Scarsdale couple is seeking compensation from a Hartsdale pet shop for the death of their miniature schnauzer puppy 20 days after they bought him.
Seth and Margreta Morgulas sued Westchester Puppies & Kittens on Feb. 14 in Westchester Supreme Court. They are seeking $17,574 in compensation.
Their purebred puppy was infected with canine parvovirus, according to the complaint, and died of acute pneumonia.
Westchester Puppy responded that the Morgulases are making false accusations.
The Morgulases bought the 12-week-old puppy Jan. 17, for $2,889. Their children named him Count Otto Morgulas.
The pup was examined and vaccinated Jan. 19 at Dakota Veterinary Center in Greenburgh.
He was noticeably lethargic on Jan. 20 and began vomiting and having diarrhea, and he was taken to Veterinary Emergency Group in Greenburgh for fluids and medication.
“At that time it was conjectured,” according to the complaint, “that Otto may be experiencing a reaction to the inoculation.”
When his condition did not improve by Jan. 21, the Morgulases took Otto back to Dakota Veterinary where he was diagnosed with canine parvovirus, a highly contagious and frequently lethal disease.
Otto was hospitalized for 10 days of round-the-clock care. When he was released on Jan. 31, he was weak but appeared to be recovering.
But on Feb. 4, according to the complaint, he went into a rapid decline. He was taken back to the vet, where he was diagnosed with acute pneumonia likely resulting from a secondary infection to his weakened immune system.
Otto died on Feb. 5.
The pet shop disputes the family’s account.
Otto was in perfect health when he was sold and was “given a clean bill of health” by Dakota Veterinary, according to an unsigned email sent by Westchester Puppy. (Deborah Connelly is president of the business.)
The vet records show that Otto got three vaccines and a flea, tick and heartworm preventative. That is too much for an 8-week-old puppy, the email states, and two independent vets who reviewed the medical records concluded that Otto’s ailment was a direct reaction to a vaccine overload. (The time span from Otto’s date of birth on the sales document, Oct. 29, 2018, and the vaccines date, Jan. 19, 2019 is nearly 12 weeks.)
The email also states that the blood work was inconclusive as to the exact, formal diagnosis.
Morgulases and their children were devastated by Otto’s death, the complaint states.
The Morgulases claim they texted and called Westchester Puppy when they first learned of the parvo diagnosis, demanding that the shop assume responsibility for Otto’s treatment. They say they also were concerned about the risk of infection to other puppies at the shop. On Jan. 31, they sent a formal demand for payment.
Westchester Puppy, they claim, communicated with their vet but never directly with them.
The pet store says it responded to the Morgulases five times by email, “clearly, professionally and thoroughly.”
The complaint accuses the business of violating an implied warranty of merchantability and fitness, and demands $17,574 to cover the costs of buying and caring for Otto.
The sales agreement for Otto included a money-back health guarantee within 14 days of purchase. It covers veterinary bills up to the cost of the purchase price of the animal; a refund of the purchase price; or the right to exchange the animal for another of equal or lesser value.
The pet shop says it made a full refund for the purchase price on Feb. 6, “contrary to their false claims that we did not refund them.”
“We have been extremely attentive, empathetic and professional,” the email response states, “in addition to already fulfilling our financial responsibility as per the terms of the health warranty.”
The Morgulases are representing themselves in the lawsuit. Seth Morgulas, is a lawyer and a lieutenant colonel with the 53rd Troop Command, the New York Army National Guard administrative headquarters at Camp Smith in Cortlandt Manor. Margreta Morgulas practices corporate and bankruptcy law for a New Jersey firm.