Courier file photo

DES MOINES — A judge has rejected a motion to dismiss a puppy laundering suit brought by the state against several Iowa companies, including one in Wapello County.

The suit accuses the defendants of falsely marketing dogs bred in puppy mills as rescue dogs in order to get around laws in some states that ban such sales. The defendants include the Wapello County-based Rescue Pets.

The motion argued that consumer fraud did not apply because animals were not specifically listed as merchandise under the state’s law. Judge Heather Lauber disagreed. She ruled that generally understood definitions of goods and merchandise clearly include the sale of animals.

Lauber also rejected a defense argument that the state had no standing to bring the case. Standing is the legal requirement that a person or entity that sues must have sufficient connection to the events to have suffered harm.

The state did not purchase any of the dogs involved in the case, nor have any Iowans been identified as purchasers. But Lauber agreed with the attorney general’s office that a state does face harm if its people are allowed to commit fraud against those of other states. She noted the Iowa Supreme Court has held people in Iowa are liable for restitution to those outside the state if they engage in deceptive practices.

“A state has an interest in protecting itself and its citizens against any such damage,” Lauber wrote. “This is true even if the actions occur outside of the state’s borders.”

In other area cases:

• Dallas Tapley pleaded guilty to second-degree theft, a lesser included charge in the original indictment, and was sentenced to five years in prison. A separate case involving controlled substance charges was dismissed.

• Zachary Barr’s attorney has asked the court to delay proceedings, citing a conflict with the trial in another case in which he is involved. Barr faces charges of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, sexual exploitation of a minor, enticing a minor under the age of 16, and two counts of dissemination of obscene materials to a minor.

— Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

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Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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