Pet Lemon Law

When shopping for a family pet, does one need to worry that it is a dog-eat-dog world out there and that the buyer should beware? There isn't a salesman alive who hasn't tried the oldest ploy in the book called the "puppy dog close", whereby the salesman hopes that if you take that cute little puppy home for a trial run, you would never take it back to the store. But what happens if that dog or cat you bought is sick or unfit in some way? Does the store owner have an obligation to take it back, or is he required to pay your veterinarian bills? Suppose there is no money-back guarantee, or the store owner says, "tough luck?"

In New York State, consumers are protected under the New York State Pet Lemon Law which is aimed at ensuring the good health of cats and dogs sold in the state. The New York State Lemon Law is meant to protect the public and ensure the humane treatment of dogs and cats by making pet dealers guarantee that any animal sold by the dealer is healthy. Under this law, new pet owners are entitled to recover any losses which are incurred as a result of the purchase of an unfit dog or cat.

A pet seller is defined under the law as any pet dealer or breeder who engages in the sale of more than nine dogs or cats within a year for profit to the public. The Pet Lemon Law protects consumers when a cat or dog is considered unfit for purchase due to illness, a congenital malformation which adversely affects the health of the animal, or the presence of symptoms of a contagious or infectious disease. These dealers or breeders must post a notice of consumer rights under the law in a clearly visible way and, at the time of sale, they must provide written notice to the consumer of these rights.

If the consumer discovers that their new pet is not well as defined by the law, they must obtain a certification from a veterinarian that the animal is unfit within fourteen business days of purchase or within fourteen days of receipt of written notice of rights under the lemon law, whichever is later. The new owner must then return the pet to the seller within three business days of obtaining the certification. The seller must then either provide a refund of the purchase price, including a reimbursement for veterinary expenses and the certification, or replace the animal. If the consumer has fallen in love with the pet and instead chooses to try and cure the dog or cat, they may receive reimbursement for reasonable value of services rendered.

Pets become members of our families and offer unconditional love and companionship. In fact, it is estimated that sixty percent of American households have at least one pet. If one purchases a pet that is not well, it can become an emotional and financial drain upon the family which could be devastating.

So, if your purchase of a cat or dog goes sour, remember that the New York State Lemon Law may offer the right solution for both you and your pet. In that case, contact the Attorney General of New York State at www.ag.ny.gov or a qualified attorney for assistance.