ID: 2510
Date Submitted: 4/10/2007
Breed: Rat Terrier
Date Purchased: 6/25/2005
Broker:  Unknown Unlicensed
Petshop:  The Puppy Barn *
Details: Healthy

ID: 548
Date Submitted: 7/7/2006
Breed: Havanese Poodle
Date Purchased: 6/22/2004
Broker:  Lake Country Pets, L L C *
Petshop:  The Puppy Shoppe *
Details: Puppy died from Distemper on 8/14/04 after suffering from Encephilitis, Brain Damage and Seizures.

ID: 542
Date Submitted: 7/6/2006
Breed: Havanese
Date Purchased: 6/19/2003
Broker:  Unknown Unlicensed
Petshop:  The Puppy Shoppe *
Details: Never received registration papers.

ID: -1718
Date Submitted: 9/3/2004
Breed: Havanese
Date Purchased: 3/7/2004
Broker:  Unknown Unlicensed
Petshop:  The Puppy Shoppe *
Details: Underbite and aggressiveness.


Name: Cabezas, Janice - Sunshine Kennel
City: Homosassa
State: FL

USDA Inspections:
Unfortunately I have no inspections for this breeder.  You can order inspections using this link.

Unfortunately I have no inventory information for this breeder.

AKC Suspensions:
I have no suspension information for this breeder.

When Mary Ellen Whitehead's dog died of illness, she would have blamed misfortune had it not been for one major detail: It had happened before, under eerily similar circumstances.

Whitehead paid $897 in July 2004 for a Havanese-poodle mix from the Puppy Shoppe, one of a chain of pet stores that closed after the owner, Janice Lee Cabezas, was arrested in 2004. Charges were later dropped.

Cabezas, 49, of Parrish, who had stores in Bradenton, Venice and North Port, was arrested again on July 26 on felony charges of scheming to defraud customers of more than $50,000.

Cabezas pleaded not guilty on Aug. 2. Her next court date is scheduled for Sept. 2 in the Sarasota County Courthouse.

In a probable cause report, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Detective Jim Klay wrote that "animals were given false papers to inflate their value and sold to unwitting victims."

Authorities believe that Cabezas gave customers false pedigree papers. As a result, they allege, customers paid up to $1,000 for what they thought were pure-bred or designer dogs that really were mutts.

Detectives also allege that Cabezas forged documents, including vaccination forms and warranties, costing her customers thousands of dollars, according to a probable cause report filed by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office in May.

For a month, Whitehead, 39, said she spent hundreds of dollars on veterinary visits, trying to figure out what was wrong with her dog, whom she named Havana.

On Aug. 13, 2004, Whitehead and her two children watched as the 18-week-old puppy convulsed from seizures and yelped in pain.

Because of Hurricane Charley, no veterinary offices were open, Whitehead said.

The dog died the next day.

Seven years before, Whitehead had purchased another dog from Cabezas' store. Four years later, that dog also died from a chronic illness.

Whitehead chalked up her first dog's death to bad luck, not suspecting that something was wrong at the Puppy Shoppe.

But two dead dogs from the same store were too many.

Whitehead, a stay-at-home mother, decided to investigate.

She sent Havana to the University of Florida's veterinary school for an autopsy.

A week later, the results showed that Havana died of distemper, a rare, contagious disease typically prevented by vaccinations.

Whitehead, who paid $100 extra for a warranty on Havana, went to Cabezas to warn her that her shop could be carrying the disease.

But Cabezas refused to refund Whitehead's money, and blamed her for subjecting the dog to distemper, Whitehead said.

"She said, 'I do not, nor have I ever, had an animal in my kennel spreading disease,'" Whitehead recalled.

Whitehead started poking around local pet stores, asking questions and leaving her phone number in case someone with similar experiences dropped by.

Within days, Whitehead's phone began to ring.

"I started to get a flood of calls from people saying, 'I've had a problem with this store,'" Whitehead said.

Now, Whitehead has a notebook full of names and phone numbers of customers whose dogs became sick, or died.

On Aug. 30, 2004, Whitehead met with sheriff's personnel.

Her complaint was among 134 filed with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office by customers who purchased dogs from Cabezas.

Some of those dogs died. Others lived, but were frequently sick.

On Sept. 27, 2004, sheriff's deputies searched Cabezas' Venice store. They seized "numerous documents that were questionable," according to the report.

According to the report, many victims were denied refunds, though they had purchased warranties.

In October, deputies arrested Cabezas on 16 misdemeanor counts of failure to possess veterinary health certificates for animals for sale. The state attorney's office later chose not to prosecute her on those charges.

But detectives continued to investigate Cabezas for fraud.

"It's my understanding that all the paperwork was in order, and everything was done according to the law and state and federal regulations," said Cabezas' lawyer, Donald Greico.

It's uncertain whether Cabezas still works in the pet business. A phone number for her store, River Hills City Pets in Valrico, was disconnected.

A phone call to a number for Cabezas, listed on a sheriff's report, was not immediately returned.

Cabezas' accusers credit Whitehead for the progress so far.

She has every phone number she needs written down. She knows what's happened so far, and what can be expected to happen next.

"She knows a lot more about it than I do," said John Ferrazzano, who lives in Manatee County. A dog he purchased in February from Cabezas' Bradenton store died from liver problems.

"She's a detective and a half," said Barbara Kinney, whose pet, purchased from Cabezas, also died.

Whitehead, who has three other dogs, still keeps Havana's ashes at home. She said she's not ready to bury her dog yet. "I haven't been able to bring myself to bury her," Whitehead said. "I don't feel like there's been resolution yet."
Source: Herald Tribune - Aug 9, 2005