Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed H.B. 5409, the state’s new “puppy lemon law.” The law, which will take effect October 1, 2012, makes those who sell dogs or cats liable for up to $500 in veterinary expenses for conditions that were present at the time of sale. Moreover, it allows for penalties in instances where congenital defects are detected within the first six months after an animal is purchased.
Nebraska State Senator and retired veterinarian M.L. “Cap” Dierks has introduced LB 588, the “Dog and Cat Purchase Protection Act,” which would effectively curb inhumane puppy mills and cat breeding facilities. The law would require breeders and pet shops to provide written disclosures to consumers, and require consumers to have a new pet checked by a veterinarian within four days of purchase to be accorded protections under this puppy lemon law. If the pet were found to have a serious health problem or congenital defect, the consumer would be entitled to a refund of the purchase price, a new pet, or reimbursement for veterinary fees.
The bill was introduced on January 21, and was referred to the Agriculture Committee, of which Senator Dierks is a member, on January 23.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett successfully shut down a puppy breeder in Berks County who, according to the AG’s press release, “sold consumers puppies that were sick, had infectious diseases, congenital or genetic defects or were falsely represented as healthy dogs.”
The breeder, Traci Murai, also required people purchasing dogs to forfeit their rights under Pennsylvania’s Puppy Lemon Law.
The court order prohibits Murai from breeding and selling dogs in the state, and requires restitution and penalties of $25,000.
In the past, we’ve written about puppy lemon laws, and how Connecticut, Arkansas, California, Florida, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont all have laws on the books that give pet owners an avenue of redress when they buy an animal from a pet store and that animal is sick. Illinois Senator Paul Froehlich proposed a similar measure in that state, but it was tabled last spring.
In a recent letter to the editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin, a reader suggested that instead of puppy lemon laws, the state needed to move on proposed legislation by Representative Jeff Smith that would put an end to Wisconsin’s flourishing puppy mill industry. When they do, they will be close on the heels of Pennsylvania, long known as a haven for disreputable dog breeders and cruel puppy mills. According to an article in The Times Herald, earlier this month Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed legislation to regulate the dog breeding industry. This should safeguard the caring, compassionate dog breeders while giving animal control officers the backing they need to put cruel puppy mills out of business.
I’m continuing on the lemon law for animals theme. When you buy a car, there are auto lemon laws in all states offering varying degrees of protection. When you buy a dog, at least some states offer lemon law protections. But what happens if you buy a lemon horse? Don’t laugh. It turns out , Palm Beach Post Reports, that Florida lawmakers recently decided horse buyers need a “lemon law,” too.The proposed law mandates the disclosure of relevant medical conditions, defects and surgeries; the conduct or alterations that could affect the performance of a horse; and the need for a written bill of sale or similar documentation. Florida Department of Agriculture is working on the final rules for the new law.
So far as I can tell, Florida is unique in codifying lemon law-like provisions for horses. But even without the lemon law, animal buyers have protections under warranty laws that apply to all goods (yes, unfortunately, animals are classified as goods under contract law). Plus, if a consumer buys a defective animal, it may be possible to argue that the animal is a ‘consumer good’ protected by the Federal Magnuson Moss Act, which provides for attorney’s fees for successful litigants.
If you decide to trade your 200-horsepower ride for a one-horse carriage, think twice, then head to Florida to make your purchase.