A prominent animal rights activist pleaded no contest to practicing veterinary medicine without a license, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Tuesday.

Marc Ching, who owns the pet supply store PetStaurant, allegedly encouraged owners to use herbs and diet regimens to treat their sick pets instead of traditional medicine and science-based treatments, according to Feuer’s office, which said that the advice endangered the lives of the animals.

“Just as you wouldn’t want an unlicensed doctor providing medical treatment to you or a loved one, the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine is just as serious an issue for our beloved animals. It is a matter of health and safety,” Feuer said.

Ching, who could not immediately be reached for a response, was given 12 months of summary probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine plus penalty assessments. He also must comply with rules, regulations and orders of the Department of Public Health and Consumer Affairs. He had faced up to 18 months in county jail and a maximum $4,500 fine.

Ching was charged in November 2020 with manufacturing and packaging pet food without a license and selling misbranded food. Under the agreement, Ching said he will make every effort to obtain the proper license to manufacture the food, and he agreed not to make false or misleading statements to market his business, like claiming that non-organic food is organic.

The California Veterinary Medical Board requested an undercover investigation be conducted into Ching. The Department of Consumer Affairs Division of Investigation discovered that he was practicing without a license, including diagnosing ailments and prescribing treatments.

The PetStaurant’s website also allegedly gave unproven instructions to pet owners on how to treat undiagnosed ailments like skin dermatitis and ear infections.

The PesStaurant’s website describes Ching as a “4th Generation Japanese Herbalist and Human Holistic Nutritionist.”

“As the lead herbalist, Marc makes species appropriate meals for both dogs and cats, understanding the anatomy of animals and how their bodies process and absorb nutrients. His belief and culture, a presence which has become the corner stone of the company — is that our pets are a part of our family,” the website says.

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