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My dog was guaranteed against defects when purchased - do I have grounds to ask for money back due to luxating patellas?

Q:

In December I purchased a puppy. I brought her to the vet three months later and the veterinary orthopedist said that she has luxating patellas and will require surgery. In the contract I signed when I purchased her, it stated the she was guaranteed against defects. Do I have grounds to ask for a portion or all of my money back? Or should I push for the store to pay for the surgery?

A:

I suggest you review the contract to see if it includes any time period for the guarantee against defects and if it includes an explanation of your remedies. New York’s pet sale law (which probably won’t help you) gives purchasers certain remedies if within 14 business days following the sale of an animal by a pet dealer, a veterinarian determines that the animal was unfit for sale. These remedies include returning the animal and getting a refund or animal of equivalent value or getting reimbursed for veterinary fees to attempt to cure the animal, up to what was paid for the animal. However, purchasers are not limited by this law (and its time restrictions) and may still succeed in a claim against a pet dealer if the purchaser can demonstrate that the animal was unfit for sale. The Uniform Commercial Code, which pertains to the sale of goods (including animals) by merchants (persons who routinely engage in the sale of such goods) may be relied upon (in addition to or instead of the pet sale laws) in some cases involving the sale/purchase of animals. Unless specifically excluded in a contract, most sales of goods by merchants include (even if not specifically stated) a warranty of merchantability (that the goods were fit for sale). If you can demonstrate that your dog’s condition was congenital, you might be successful in recouping some money. The court would have to believe that your puppy’s condition was not caused by a trauma or other incident while in your care. I suggest your veterinarian check out your puppy’s other knees as well. If they are also compromised your claim may be enhanced. How much you ask for, how much a court would award, or how much the pet dealer might settle for would be dependent on a few factors, including, for example, the terms of your contract, the cost of surgery, and the puppy's purchase price. Courts would be reluctant to award more than the purchase price unless one can show that the pet dealer knowingly sold a dog with congenital problems.

Many dogs from pet stores start their lives in puppy mills, large commercial breeding facilities where dogs are kept in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. Inbreeding is common as are congenital problems. Adopting homeless animals from shelters and rescue groups saves lives.

I hope your puppy gets better very soon.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

 

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