No one wants to be faced with a sick pet. It is a helpless feeling when your pet is not feeling well. They cannot tell you what is wrong and seeing the sad face of a sick puppy is heart wrenching. It may feel petty to be concerned about cost when an animal’s health is at stake, but by the same token, sellers need to be responsible if they have been negligent. Holding sellers financially responsible for the animals they sell helps animals in the long run. If the puppies being sold are from puppy mills, which often turn out sick animals, and the sellers are losing money because of this, the puppy mill faces losing the business, which means less profit, which makes selling puppies less attractive, which makes everyone much happier!
The Right to Cure
The right to cure simply means the seller must legally be given a chance to make the situation right prior to the buyer pursuing legal action. If you have purchased a puppy from a breeder or pet store, and the puppy becomes ill and/or needs medical attention, first contact the seller to discuss the situation. Be prepared to offer an explanation of the situation you are facing, and be prepared to back it up with documentation, pictures, vet bills, or anything else you may have in the way of proof of illness.
It is advisable to lay out a plan of action you expect the seller to follow. Consider what you will ask for in the way of cure, such as reimbursement of medical expenses, a refund of the purchase price, etc. If the seller is unwilling to work things out with you or their offer is not acceptable, you may then wish to initiate legal action.
Buyers may or may not be aware that there are legal rights they have as a consumer. Purchasing a pet may not feel the same as purchasing an inanimate object, but in the eyes of the law, the same rules apply. If you purchase a puppy from a breeder or pet store that later turns out to be ill, or even dies, you may be able to seek legal recompense (compensation/reimbursement) through the Consumer Protection Act.
Consumer Protection Acts allow buyers who have purchased a faulty product for household use, or been the victim of misrepresentation by the seller, to sue in the case of failure on the part of the seller to cure, or make right, the sale. These laws do not mention “companion animals” in particular, but this may be invoked if it is felt the seller misrepresented the condition of the animal.
Puppy Lemon Laws
A Puppy Lemon Law is simply an additional legal avenue available to the purchaser beyond the usual protections offered for goods and services. These laws add a layer of protection deemed necessary by state legislators due to the emotional factor involved in the purchase of an animal. Because buyers are able to appeal to consumers on an emotional level, normal considerations involved in a purchase may not be given by the buyer.
The additional protections afforded by the “Puppy Lemon Law” allow a buyer to have a vet examine the dog within seven to fourteen days of purchase, and, if the dog is found to be ill or have a genetic defect or condition, the buyer can then return the animal for a refund or exchange, or be partially compensated for veterinary expenses.
While it may sound callous to reduce the adoption of a new family member to dollars and cents, keep in mind that sellers must be held to a standard in some fashion. Allowing sellers to provide dogs with ill health or congenital defects with no penalty will only allow and encourage more of the same behavior. If sick puppies are accepted, then sick puppies will continue to be offered, in lieu of seeking to prevent sickness and disease, and more dogs will suffer to produce a profit for those who care not for the welfare of animals at all.
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