Prestigious Pets, a pet-sitting company in Dallas, and its owner, Kalle Mc Whorter,
fled a $1 million lawsuit against
Michelle and Robert Duchou-quette of Plano, Texas, accusing
them of defamation, business
disparagement and a breach of
contract after the couple posted a negative, one-star review
on Yelp. A Dallas County district court granted the Duchouquettes’ motion to dismiss the
case, Thompson & Knight, the
law frm representing the couple,
said in a prepared statement.
Prestigious Pets sought between $200,000 and $1 million
in damages, up from an initial
$6,700, which Bill Richmond,
the attorney for the company,
said was made to reflect a loss
in business. Richmond said the
pet-sitting company is reviewing
its options and might consider
appealing the decision.
He added that the company
tried to resolve the issues before
taking legal steps, but “those
efforts were ignored in favor of
the defendants’ ongoing media
The Duchouquettes hired
Prestigious Pets in October 2015
to watch their two dogs and betta
fsh, Gordy, while they were on
vacation, according to court doc-
uments. In the Yelp review, the
couple said their betta fsh’s tank
looked murky in a video feed, the
billing was messed up and the
company tried to charge to return
the keys to the family.
“The one star is for potentially harming my fsh; otherwise it
would have been 2 stars,” the review stated.
The family said in the review
Prestigious Pets’ $1 Million
that the care for their dogs was
Prestigious Pets said the
Duchouquettes violated a non-
disparagement clause in their
contract by posting the review
and that their statements
were false and defamato-
ry. In the complaint, Pres-
tigious Pets and owner
Mc Whorter said the fam-
ily did not initially tell the
company that they had
a fish and that the sitter
agreed to feed the betta
for free after the Duchou-
quettes “demanded” it.
The sitter did not agree to
clean the fsh bowl or change the
water and was told to feed it less,
according to court documents.
Documents provided by Rich-
mond, the company’s attorney,
show only two pets on the con-
tract—dogs Bogey and Barley. The
complaint also said that Mc Whort-
er and her husband “have had to
deal with numerous ... threats”
and other forms of harassment.
The Duchouquettes’ review
still is up on the page, which
has an average of 4. 5 stars, but
the Yelp page for the company
now features a consumer alert re-
minding reviewers that they have
a First Amendment right to ex-
press their opinions.
The business “may be trying
to abuse the legal system in an
effort to stife free speech, includ-
ing issuing questionable legal
threats against reviewers,” the
GET GLOBAL PET EXPO 2017
ON YOUR CALENDAR
The American Pet Products Association and Pet Industry Distributors Association announced
that Global Pet Expo 2017 will
take place March 22-24, 2017, at
the Orange County Convention
Center in Orlando, Fla.
Global showcases 16 football
fields’ worth of pet products,
Global Pet Expo 2016 featured
6,170 buyers, 1,087 exhibitors,
3,218 booths sold and 15,478 attendees. On a global front, 21
percent of exhibitors were international, and 24 percent of buyers were from outside of the U.S.,
coming from 76 countries. The
Global Pet Expo Academy Seminars saw a 20 percent spike in
attendance at 1,400 participants.
TRACTOR SUPPLY DIGS INTO PET
WITH PETSENSE ACQUISITION
Farm-and-ranch chain Tractor
Supply Co. (TSC) just became a
lot more invested in the $60 billion pet business.
In late September, TSC said that
for approximately $116 million, it
acquired Petsense, a specialty re-
tailer of pet supplies and services
with 136 stores in 25 states.
Petsense will operate as a subsidiary of TSC from Petsense’s
current headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., and it will continue to
be led by members of Petsense’s
senior management team, according to TSC.
TSC said it plans to continue
to grow the Petsense store base
at a target rate of 15 to 20 percent
annually and will convert its two
existing Home Town Pet stores to
BLUE BUFFALO TO
Blue Buffalo Co. is constructing a
new Heartland Pet Food manufacturing and R&D facility on 89
acres in Richmond, Ind.
Heartland, a wholly owned
subsidiary of Blue Buffalo Co.,
will produce dry dog and cat
food and become the second
facility for Blue Buffalo, with the
frst facility located in Joplin, Mo.
Production of Blue natural pet
food is expected to begin in 2018.
SOLID GOLD PET OPENS
IN ST. LOUIS
Solid Gold Pet opened its new
corporate headquarters in Ches-terfeld, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.
“Our supply chain and manufacturing facilities are also located
in the Midwest,” said Bob Rubin,
CEO and president. “Housing
our corporate offces in St. Louis
will allow us to centralize support
for our customers and vendors,
which means increased effciency
One pet-sitting company’s experience with
Yelp! illustrates how business owners must
tread carefully with this social media platform.
• Build skills and sales.
• Boost knowledge and confidence.
• Keep customers coming back.
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