You’ve heard of cars being lemons, but you might not suspect that the term can also apply to puppies! In fact, there are entire laws written to protect customers from being sold sick or damaged pets by pet stores or breeders.
The situation is usually something like this: a pet store sells someone a sick puppy (either knowingly or otherwise), and the new owner is then stuck with the financial and emotional burden of caring for a sick animal.
Now, that’s not to say we shouldn’t still adopt sick animals, but it’s important that the customer be well-informed about the pet’s health before choosing to purchase a pet. So what do you need to know about puppy lemon law?
What Do Puppy Lemon Laws Require?
First of all, you should know exactly what puppy lemon laws mean for the seller. Puppy lemon law requires that pet shops and breeders freely give certain information about a pet to the customer prior to selling an animal.
This information includes the animal’s health and medical history (including immunization records), the animal’s age (or best estimate), and the animal’s history (like where it was bred.)
What Happens If Puppy Lemon Law Is Broken?
If a seller does not conform with puppy lemon laws, the customer is legally entitled to certain retributions.
1. Returns and Refunds
Sellers are required to offer a return of the animal in question. In addition, the customer would also receive a refund for the animal.
Sellers are also required to comply with a trade-in policy. The sick animal can be traded in for a healthy one of similar value.
3. Reimbursement of Veterinary Bills
Whether or not the customer chooses to keep the animal, they are entitled to full reimbursement for any veterinary costs they encounter. This may include surgeries, examinations, prescriptions, or other fees.
How Long Does Puppy Lemon Law Apply?
To make use of the policies guaranteed in a puppy lemon law, the consumer would need to take the animal to a vet and have it certified as “unfit for purchase,” meaning that there is something medically wrong with the animal that should have been disclosed to the consumer prior to purchase.
Then, the customer usually has one to two weeks to return the animal, exchange the animal, or seek reimbursement for vet bills. However, if the health issue is congenital, the customer has around 180 days to follow up with the seller.
Is There a Kitty Lemon Law?
While there isn’t technically a kitty lemon law, puppy lemon laws usually apply to cats as well. However, this can vary from state to state, so check local ordinances to know for sure.
Is There a Way Around Puppy Lemon Laws?
Nope! Most puppy lemon laws are nonwaivable, meaning that there is no way for the seller to avoid them by, for example, writing exceptions into your sale contract or not mentioning the law to the customer prior to the sale of an animal.
Puppy Lemon Laws In Action
To see if a puppy lemon law applies in your situation, you’ll need to check your state’s legislature to make sure it applies to you. Your next step will be to speak to a lawyer who specializes in animal law. They can tell you more about whether you may qualify for returns, exchanges, or reimbursements related to unhealthy pets. Contact us today to find out more!