Pet Lemon Laws

Many states have laws in place to protect consumers if they purchase a dog that becomes sick. Most states allow the purchaser to return the sick puppy for a refund or a replacement, and many give consumers the option to keep the sick puppy and be reimbursed for veterinary expenses.

Arizona – Buyers have 15 days to document illness or injury, and 60 days to document congenital or hereditary defects. The seller must refund the purchase price or replace the animal and reimburse the cost of vet fees up to the purchase price. If the buyer chooses to keep the pet, the seller must reimburse vet fees up to the pet’s purchase price.

Arkansas – The law applies to dogs sold in pet stores. Buyers have 10 days to document the dog’s illness as well as congenital or hereditary defects. Pet stores are not required to issue a refund or replacement, but they must reimburse the buyer for veterinary expenses up to the purchase price of the dog.
California – The law applies to anyone who sold, transferred, or gave away two or more litters in the previous calendar year. Buyers have 15 days to document contagious or infectious disease, and one year to document congenital or hereditary defects. The seller has 120 days to produce registration papers. If the seller fails to do this, the buyer can return the dog for a full refund or keep the dog and receive a refund of 75% of the purchase price. If the dog is ill or has hereditary defects, as documented by a veterinarian, the buyer is entitled to a replacement plus reimbursement for vet expenses up to the purchase price of the dog. If the buyer elects to keep the dog, the seller is required to cover up to 1 ½ times the purchase price of the dog in vet expenses.

Connecticut – Buyers have 20 days to document illness existing at the time of sale and 6 months to document congenital defects. The seller must replace the animal or refund the purchase price, and reimburse for services and medications provided by a vet up to $500.

Delaware – Consumers have 20 days to document illness, disease, or defect, and 2 years for congenital or hereditary conditions. Sellers must refund the purchase price or exchange the animal, and they are required to reimburse reasonable vet fees not to exceed the purchase price.

Florida – The law applies to anyone who sells more than 2 litters or 20 dogs per year, whichever is greater. Consumers have 14 days to document contagious or infectious disease and a year to document congenital or hereditary defects. The law provides for replacement plus reimbursement of vet expenses up to the price of the dog. It is the buyer’s right to receive a certificate of veterinary inspection with each pet purchased. If the pet is ill and a veterinarian determines that it was unfit for purchase, the consumer must notify the pet dealer within 2 business days of this determination. The buyer has the right to keep, return, or exchange the animal and be reimbursed for vet expenses.

Maine – Consumers have 10 days to document health problems existing before purchase and 1 year for hereditary or congenital defects. If the pet dies, the seller must replace the animal or refund the purchase price. If the animal does not die, the seller must return the purchase price or exchange the animal, and reimburse half of reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed half of the purchase price.

Massachusetts – The law applies to pet stores, but not to hobby breeders or kennels. Consumers have 14 days to document illness or defect. The pet store must then issue a replacement or a refund but is not required to reimburse vet expenses.

Minnesota – The law covers anyone required to collect state sales tax for the sale of animals. Consumers have 10 days to document contagious or infectious disease in their pet and 1 year to document congenital or hereditary defects. The seller must then either replace the pet or refund the purchase price, and to reimburse the buyer’s vet expenses up to the purchase price of the animal.

Nebraska – The buyer must have the pet examined by a licensed veterinarian within 7 businesses days after receiving the animal. The law covers the consumer if one of the following conditions are met: 1) A serious health problem that the veterinarian believes existed at the time of sale is documented within 7 days 2) A serious health problem, including congenital or hereditary defects and any other contagious disease that causes severe illness or death, is diagnosed within 15 months after the date of birth of the pet. If the animal dies, the seller must refund the full purchase price upon return of the animal to the seller or an exchange for a pet animal of the buyer’s choice of equivalent value will be made, or reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees up to the purchase price will be made. If the animal does not die, the seller must refund the purchase price or exchange the pet for one of the buyer’s choice of equivalent value and reimburse for reasonable vet fees not to exceed half of the purchase price of the animal.

Nevada – Consumers have 10 days to document illness, disease, terminal condition, or condition requiring immediate hospitalization or surgery. The seller must refund the purchase price or exchange the pet. If the buyer keeps the animal, the seller will reimburse veterinary fees up to the purchase price of the pet.

New Hampshire – Buyers have 14 days to document disease. Sellers must replace the pet or refund the full purchase price within 2 days of veterinary examination.

New Jersey – The law covers anyone selling pets for profit. Buyers have 14 days to document disease and 6 months to document congenital or hereditary defects. The seller must issue a replacement or a refund of the purchase price. If the buyer elects to keep the dog, he is eligible for reimbursement of vet costs up to the dog’s purchase price.

New York – The law applies to anyone who sells more than 9 animals per year. Buyers have 14 days to document contagious or infectious disease, and only 14 days to document congenital or hereditary defect. The buyer may then choose a replacement animal as well as reimbursement of the vet fees to prove the animal was unfit. The buyer may demand a full refund plus vet fees up to the purchase price of the animal. Every pet dealer in New York is required to post a notice about consumer rights and the pet lemon laws.

Oregon – Consumers have 15 days to document disease and 1 year to document hereditary or congenital defect. The buyer must notify the seller within 4 days of the veterinary examination. The seller must issue a refund or replacement, and reimbursement of vet costs up to the purchase price of the animal.

Pennsylvania – Buyers have only 10 days to document contagious or infectious disease and only 30 days to document a congenital or hereditary defect. Buyers can demand a replacement animal or a full refund, excluding sales tax. They are also entitled to reimbursement of vet expenses up to the purchase price of the dog, excluding sales tax. The seller must provide a health record for the dog at the time of sale and a health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 21 days prior to the date of sale or a guarantee of good health issued and signed by the seller. If a dog is determined to have been unfit for sale, the buyer must notify the seller of the name, address, and telephone number of the examining veterinarian within 2 business days. Refunds and reimbursements shall be made no later than 14 days after the seller receives the veterinarian certification. Veterinarian certification shall be presented to the seller not later than 5 days after you receive it.

Rhode Island – The buyer has 20 days to document illness or disease and 2 years for congenital or hereditary conditions. The seller must return the purchase price or exchange the pet plus reimburse veterinary fees up to the purchase price.

South Carolina – The consumer has 14 days to document the animal unfit for purchase due to non-congenital cause or condition and 6 months for congenital or hereditary disease. If the animal dies, the seller must issue a refund or provide a replacement animal and reimburse vet fees incurred before death. If the animal does not die, the seller must either refund the purchase price or exchange the animal, and they must reimburse veterinary fees up to 50% of the purchase price.

Vermont – The buyer has 7 days to document illness or disease and 1 year for congenital malformation or hereditary disease. The seller must reimburse the buyer for the vet fees related to obtaining the certification, and they must refund the purchase price or replace the animal. In addition, they must reimburse vet fees related to curing or attempting to cure the animal up to the purchase price.

Virginia – The consumer has 10 days to document contagious or infectious disease or congenital defects. The consumer can then return the animal and receive a refund of the purchase price or exchange the animal for another of equal value.

One Trackback

  • By 2010 in our review mirror | Zoey's Story on January 2, 2011 at 1:30 am

    […] We were able to prevail in our first case representing a fellow New Yorker wronged by a pet store with the help of attorney Cari Rincker in upholding the New York State Puppy Lemon Law. […]

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