PEWAUKEE — An animal clinic in Pewaukee is fighting back against bad Google reviews. Court documents reveal the reviews stem from an incident in which a veterinarian was bit dozens of times by a dog, prompting Waukesha County to put it down.
The attorney for Lakeview Animal Clinic, James Barton, said the clinic used to have stellar reviews from clients. But after the incident, one-star reviews started popping up on Google when you search the business' name.
"As many small businesses know, you don't have an unlimited marketing budget to put commercials on, so you rely on word of mouth and people posting honest, unbiased reviews," said Barton.
Barton said when Lakeview checked the names behind the negative reviews, it found none of them have ever been a client of the clinic. So first, they asked them to take down the reviews. Then, they asked Google to remove them.
"Google took down a few of them, but ultimately Lakeview was left without options," said Barton.
So they decided to sue. According to the lawsuit, the negative reviews stem from an incident in which the vet was bit 31 times by a client's golden retriever. Waukesha County made the decision to euthanize the dog. That's when the lawsuit said the posts began.
"It's quite clear it's a coordinated attempted to drive down Lakeview's ratings," said Barton.
TODAY'S TMJ4 reached out to the people with listed phone numbers in the lawsuit. So far, no one has responded to our requests for an interview.
Google released this statement:
"We have strict policies in place, enable people to report issues to us, and use manual and automated systems to detect fraud - but we tend not to share details behind our processes so as not to tip off spammers or others with bad intent. We provide reviews on Google Maps to help users make informed decisions on businesses and services. We believe that overall the reviews system is an opportunity for great businesses to shine and attract more customers. The vast majority of reviews on Google Maps are legitimate. If you believe that a review violates our posting guidelines please bring it to our attention by flagging it as inappropriate."
Lakeview Animal Clinic's attorney said it is seeking damages, but all they really want is for the false reviews to be removed.