LOS ANGELES – On August 3, 2021 the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Ofrfice announced that Marc Ching entered a no contest plea on a charge of practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The owner of organic pet food store, The PetStaurant – with locations in Sherman Oaks and Santa Monica – and founder of the charity Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, Ching allegedly endangered the lives of sick pets by encouraging their owners to treat them with herbs and diet regimens instead of traditional medicine and science-based treatments.
An undercover operation, requested by the California Veterinary Medical Board and conducted by the Department of Consumer Affairs Division of Investigation, with the assistance of investigators from the California Department of Public Health, revealed that Ching allegedly was practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The investigation revealed Ching not only diagnosed ailments but also prescribed treatments without the necessary license. In addition, the Petstaurant website allegedly contained false statements including unproven instructions on how to treat various undiagnosed pet ailments such as skin dermatitis and ear infections.
“CAFDI members who work at the California Department of Public Health spend many hours of inspectional casework to protect the health of the public, including our pets,” said California Association of Food and Drug Investigators (CAFDI) President Joel Lambert. “Our officers were vital to the success of this particular operation. Thanks again to the hard-working members of CAFDI and CSLEA.”
Ching was placed on 12 months of summary probation, the maximum allowed by law, and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 plus penalty assessments, and comply with the rules, regulations and orders of the California Departments of Public Health and Consumer Affairs. He agreed not to make false or misleading statements in marketing his business or on his websites—for example, he is not to state that a food is "organic" when it is not certified as such. He also agreed to make every effort to obtain the necessary licenses to manufacture pet food at his businesses, as he was also charged with manufacturing and packaging pet food without the appropriate license and selling misbranded food. And Ching agreed to obey all laws and orders of the court.
In November 2020, a criminal misdemeanor filing was submitted against Ching alleging seven charges:
- Practicing Veterinary Medicine without a License (Business and Professions Code - section 4825);
- False Advertising (Business and Professions Code - section 17500);
- Processing, packing, and preparing meat products without a license (CA Food & Agricultural Code - section 19260);
- False advertising of food products (Health and Safety Code - section 11390);
- Unlawful manufacture (Health and Safety Code - section 11395);
- Selling adulterated food (Health and Safety Code - section 110620);
- Selling misbranded food (Health and Safety Code - section 110760).