At least two dozen dogs passed off as rescues to two New Jersey adoption centers were purchased from a "sham rescue" group led by the same people as a for-profit breeder, according to a lawsuit filed by Iowa's state Attorney General.

Puppy laundering is the practice of using nonprofit rescue groups to obscure the source of dogs, deceive consumers and circumvent “puppy mill” bans, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said.

Hobo K9 Rescue is accused of selling at least 1,290 puppies — including pomeranians, shar-peis, Alaskan malamutes, poodle-yorkies and other breeds — to centers in New Jersey and four other states between September 2016 and July 2018.

Hobo K9 Rescue records show it shipped about 25 puppies to Shake a Paw Rescue and Adoption Centers in Green Brook and Union, said Lynn Hicks, of the Iowa Attorney General's Office.

Hicks said they asked Shake a Paw for more information in a subpoena but the company "declined to provide it."

Over that time span, Hobo K9 Rescue was led by the same three women as J.A.K.’s Puppies, according to financial records cited in court paperwork.

Shake A Paw was not accused of any wrongdoing in the lawsuit filed in Iowa.

“Puppy laundering obscures the identity of breeders who may have animal welfare violations or other problems,” Miller said. His office began investigating the operation in June 2018.

In a separate incident, both Shake a Paw locations were named in a 2016 report by the Humane Society for questionable connections to puppy mill locations, also based in Iowa.

The Iowa AG’s office is hoping to end operations of Hobo K9 Rescue for abusing that state's nonprofit laws. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties for up to $40,000 per violation and reimbursement for defrauded consumers.

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