April 9, 2009 / 6:52 PM / 10 years ago

Florida sues seller of Michael Vick dog chew toy

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida sued a company that sold dog chew toys depicting a football player imprisoned for dogfighting and dolls modeled after a murdered child, alleging on Thursday that it committed a “disgusting” deception by falsely claiming charities would benefit.

The toys for dogs to chew on depict former National Football League star Michael Vick, who is serving a 23-month sentence on a dogfighting conviction. They come in a football uniform or in prison stripes.

The dolls depict Caylee Anthony, a 2-year-old Florida girl whose mother is awaiting trial on charges of murdering her and hiding her body in the woods.

Attorney General Bill McCollum filed a lawsuit alleging toy seller Jaime Salcedo and his Jacksonville, Florida, company, Showbiz Promotions LLC, misled consumers with claims that proceeds from the dog toys would go to animal shelters and that profits from the dolls would benefit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

McCollum said the company donated only $10 to the children’s group and none to animal shelters. It was unclear how many toys were sold.

“Any company that intentionally misleads innocent consumers to believe they are contributing to worthy charitable causes is absolutely reprehensible,” McCollum said in a news release. “It is disgusting that a company would exploit a tragic situation for personal gain.”

He said the state began investigating the Internet sales company last year after receiving more than 200 complaints about the dog chew toys, which the company’s website says were not authorized by Vick.

The company, which could not be reached for comment, suspended sales of the Caylee doll in January because of public outrage. McCollum’s lawsuit asks a judge to permanently ban sales of the doll and to fine the company $10,000 for each violation of the state’s law against deceptive and unfair trade.

Editing by Jim Loney and Frances Kerry

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