DES MOINES — A case involving what the state attorney general’s office said was a puppy laundering scheme has resulted in a judgement that shuts down the companies involved.

One of the defendants, Rescue Pets Iowa Corporation, was based at 1617 S. Milner St., in Ottumwa. The company formally dissolved after the case was filed. Russell Kirk, Rescue Pets’ president, secretary, treasurer and director, was also a defendant.

Some states have enacted laws to ban the sale of dogs specifically bred for sale as a way of both cracking down on puppy mills and encouraging the adoption of rescue animals. The suit accused those involved of transferring dogs bred for sale through false rescue organizations to evade those laws.

The case was filed in March 2019. The defendants denied the accusations that they had violated Iowa’s consumer fraud laws and continue to do so. The judgement entered Tuesday was with consent of all parties.

District Judge Heather Lauber ordered that Rescue Pets “shall remain permanently dissolved,” and that the other companies be shut down as well. None of the companies can be re-formed.

The defendants “are permanently enjoined from re-organizing Hobo K-9 Rescue and Rescue Pets Iowa Corporation,” wrote Lauber, with a penalty of up to $5,000 per day if the order is violated.

While those involved in the case are allowed to engage with genuine rescue organizations in the future, they are barred from working with any company that transfers dogs “while having knowledge that the purpose of the transfer is to evade local or state restrictions on the sale of commercially-bred dogs.”

Kirk and the other defendants are barred from forming “any new non-profit corporations operating within or with Iowa residents for a period of three years.”

Any violations of the temporary injunction will result in the injunction becoming permanent. The defendants must also pay $60,000 to the state’s Consumer Education and Litigation Fund.

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter



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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