The owner of the Avenel puppy store accused of selling sick animals said in a legal brief that the negative publicity has caused his store sales to plummet 60 percent.
Rocco Garruto, owner of Fancy Pups, filed a countersuit against Doreen Longo, who bought a German Shepherd puppy from Garruto in December that died of a deadly contagious canine disease 10 days after she bought the dog.
In the legal papers, Garruto accused Longo of "waging an all out war" against him that included posting pictures "of a dead puppy" on the Internet and costing him tons of business.
He also accused her of libel and slander, and of making defamatory statements, such as calling Garruto a "puppy killer" - all of which he claimed has caused customers who had put deposits on dogs to cancel their contracts and ask for their money back.
Longo had no apologies.
"Everything I've said is true. I'm a victim of Rocco once again," she said.
After her puppy died of parvovirus and other parasites that sapped the dog's strength until it bled to death, Longo contacted several state and county agencies to redress her grievances.
Her claim is one of many being handled by the Middlesex County Department of Consumer Affairs, which has been taking Garruto to municipal court in Woodbridge. He's due back again in local court on April 25.
Longo also hit Garruto with a civil lawsuit, to be heard in Middlesex County Superior Court, Special Civil Part on April 30.
Garruto's response to Longo's suit, with what Longo called a 'SLAPP' lawsuit, is intended to add to legal fees in an effort to run up the plaintiff's lawyer bills so they'll drop legal action.
"I'm not giving up," she said.
She's suing Garruto for the cost of the puppy, veterinarian bills, and her attorney fees. The sum she's seeking is approximately $15,000, or treble her costs.
"Rocco is a professional defendant. He has tons of judgments against him that all deal with sick animals. He commits fraud left and right," Longo said.
"They'll have to put a swinging door on the courthouse just for how many times he's been in and out of court because of the sick animals he sells."
Garruto, who owns the puppy store with his wife, could not be reached for comment.
"If my postings have helped one family avoid the pain that I've gone through, my dog's death hasn't been in vain," Longo said. "I don't want to see any family go through what I and my family have gone through."