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Can I sue pet store for medical costs for sick puppy?

Q:

I bought a puppy from a pet store around August and the lady at the pet store told me that the puppy was in great shape and condition. We bought him when he was exactly two months old, and she said that they had sold 2 of his brothers a couple weeks earlier which was less than two months old. Now my puppy has been having seizures for the past year ever since he turned 5 months. Is there anything I can do to sue the pet store and make them pay for my puppy's medical costs since I am unable to afford it? Thanks!

A:

Several states, including New York, have pet sale laws which provide remedies to purchasers of sick animals from pet stores and certain breeders. Under New York’s law, one such remedy is reimbursement for veterinary costs to treat the dog or cat---up to what was paid for the animal. However, there are limitations in the law. The law provides, in part, that the purchaser may be entitled to reimbursement for veterinary expenses if the purchaser obtains a veterinarian certification within14 business days following the animal’s purchase (or receipt of written notification from the seller about the consumer’s rights under the pet sale law, whichever occurred last) stating that the animal was unfit for purchase due to illness, or within 180 calendar days following the sale of the animal or receipt of the notification, whichever occurred last, that the animal was unfit for purchase due to a congenital malformation which adversely affects the health of the animal. This latter provision allowing purchasers 180 days for congenital malformations, rather than only14 days, took effect January 2014. The law also requires purchasers to follows other requirements, including, for example, providing the seller with the veterinary certification within three business days following receipt.
 
Purchasers are not limited by the pet sale laws which can be very restrictive. Other laws, such as the Uniform Commercial Code, governing the sale of property (including animals) by merchants do not contain the same time restrictions as in the pet sale laws and may be helpful in cases against pet dealers who sell sick animals or animals with congenital problems.

The NY Attorney General recently established an “Animal Protection Initiative.” According to the AG’s website, “This initiative will use civil and criminal remedies to target allegations of animal cruelty and unscrupulous sales of pets and other animals.” Complaints may be made online or by calling 866-697-3444.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

 

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