Know YOUR rights!
Puppy Lemon Law States

Puppy Lemon Laws have become more and more common as mall pet stores become more common. As dog lovers are thrilled to see more people enjoying the companionship of dogs, the demand has created an industry that has more than its share of problems. Puppy Lemon Laws are an effort to address some of these problems.

These are the Laws of which the AKC is aware. All of them give dog purchasers the right to return a sick or dead puppy for a refund or replacement. Most also give consumers the option of retaining the puppy, having it treated and getting some level of reimbursement for veterinary expenses from the seller.


Arkansas Law

This Law also applies to both cats and dogs, and stipulates registration of pet stores. Kennels are defined in a way that includes most hobby breeders therefore the law does not apply to them.

Pros: targeted at commercial establishments, so it does not effect hobby breeders

Cons: not all hobby breeders deserve to be unaffected.


California Law

This Law is the most hard on sellers of unhealthy dogs, but hobby breeders do not fall under its provisions except for the extremely active ones. As with the Florida Law, it is important to note that costs of testing to certify a dog unhealthy could double what a seller is obligated to refund to the purchaser. It is also important to note that this Law obligates the seller to cover 1˝ times the purchase price of the dog in veterinary expenses should the purchaser elect to have the dog treated.

Pros: long period in which to find congenital or hereditary conditions

Update 4-6-2001 Pertains to anyone who sold, transferred, or given away two or more litters during the preceding calendar year.
See: AB 161

Cons: obligation to cover veterinary expenses above the purchase price of the dog may be considered punitive.


Connecticut Law

This Law is very short and concise. The entire Act is on one sheet of paper. Unfortunately, this leaves some things open to interpretation, but it appears that this Law will not apply to most hobby breeders. As you can see by the following summary, this Law is not as far reaching as some of the others.

Pros: very concise and easy to understand; targeted at commercial stores.

Cons: does not allow for reimbursement if you want to keep the effected pet.

ß 22-344b. Pet shop required to have dogs and cats examined by veterinarian. Replacement or refund. Penalty.

(a) A pet shop licensee shall, prior to offering a dog or cat for sale and thereafter at intervals of fifteen days until such dog or cat is sold, provide for examination of such dog or cat by a veterinarian licensed under chapter 384. The licensee shall maintain a record of the veterinary services rendered for each dog or cat offered for sale.
(b) If, within fifteen days of sale, any such dog or cat becomes ill or dies of any illness which existed in such dog or cat at the time of the sale, such licensee shall, at the option of the consumer, replace the dog or cat or refund in full the purchase price of such dog or cat: (1) In the case of illness, upon return of the dog or cat to the pet shop and the receipt of a certificate from a veterinarian licensed under chapter 384, stating that the dog or cat is ill from a condition which existed at the time of sale, and (2) in the case of death, the receipt of a certificate from a veterinarian licensed under said chapter stating that the dog or cat died from an illness which existed at the time of sale. Any costs for services and medications provided by a licensed veterinarian incurred by the consumer for such illness shall be reimbursed to the consumer by such licensee in an amount not to exceed two hundred dollars. The presentation of such certificate shall be sufficient proof to claim reimbursement or replacement and the return of such deceased dog or cat to the pet shop shall not be required. No such refund or replacement shall be made if such illness or death resulted from maltreatment or neglect by a person other than the licensee, his agent or employee.
(c) A licensee who violates any provision of this section shall forfeit to the state a sum not to exceed five hundred dollars for each animal which is the subject of the violation. The Attorney General, upon complaint of the commissioner, may institute a civil action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford to recover the forfeiture specified in this section.

ß 22-344d. Signs required in pet shops selling dogs. Penalty.

(a) A sign measuring not less than three inches in height and not less than five inches in width shall be posted on the cage of each dog offered for sale in a pet shop. The sign shall contain information printed in black lettering on a white background listing the breed of such dog, the locality and state in which such dog was born, and any individual identification number of such dog as listed on the official certificate of veterinary inspection from the state of origin.
(b) A sign shall be posted stating the following "THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE ON ALL OUR PUPPIES: DATE OF BIRTH, THE STATE OF BIRTH, BREED, SEX AND COLOR, THE DATE THE PET SHOP RECEIVED THE PUPPY, THE NAMES AND REGISTRATION NUMBERS OF THE PARENTS (FOR AKC REGISTERABLE PUPPIES), RECORD OF INOCULATIONS AND WORMING TREATMENTS AND ANY RECORD OF ANY VETERINARY TREATMENT OR MEDICATIONS RECEIVED TO DATE." Such sign shall include a telephone number at the Department of Agriculture through which information may be obtained regarding complaints about diseased or disabled animals offered for sale. Such sign shall be posted in a place readily visible to the consumer where dogs are offered for sale and printed in black lettering not less than thirty-eight point size upon a white background.
(c) A licensee who violates any provision of this section shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars. The Attorney General, upon complaint of the Commissioner of Agriculture, may institute a civil action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford to recover the penalty specified in this section.

ß 22-354. Imported dogs and cats. Health certificates. Importation from rabies quarantine area. Puppies and kittens. Sale of young puppies and kittens.

Any dog or cat imported into this state shall be accompanied by a certificate of health issued by a licensed, graduate veterinarian stating that such dog or cat is free from symptoms of any infectious, contagious or communicable disease, and that such dog or cat, if three months of age or older, is currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. A copy of such health certificate shall be forwarded promptly to the commissioner from the livestock sanitary official of the state of origin. Any dog or cat originating from a rabies quarantine area must have permission of the State Veterinarian prior to importation into this state. No person, firm or corporation shall import or export for the purposes of sale or offering for sale any dog or cat under the age of eight weeks unless such dog or cat is transported with its dam and no person, firm or corporation shall sell within the state any dog or cat under the age of eight weeks. Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of this section or bringing any dog or cat into this state from an area under quarantine for rabies shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days or both.


Florida Law

This Law applies to both cats and dogs, and it stipulates vaccinations and examinations for animals prior to sale. The definition of a pet dealer in this Law is explicitly written so as to include active hobby breeders. One important thing to note is the provisions for replacement and refund. Consider the scenario where a puppy is purchased for $150 and has its hips evaluated within 1 year. The x-rays could run up to $150. If they turn up definite hip dysplasia, the seller may have to provide either a refund or replacement, plus cover the $150 for the x-rays.

Pros: longer period for finding congenital and hereditary defects.

Cons: obligation to pay for diagnostic testing may double sellers liability.

828.29 Dogs and cats transported or offered for sale; health requirements; consumer guarantee.

(1) (a) For each dog transported into the state for sale, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered by or under the direction of a veterinarian, licensed by the state of origin and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture, who issues the official certificate of veterinary inspection. The tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics must be administered no more than 30 days and no less than 14 days before the dog's entry into the state. The official certificate of veterinary inspection certifying compliance with this section must accompany each dog transported into the state for sale.
(b) For each dog offered for sale within the state, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered by or under the direction of a veterinarian, licensed by the state and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture, who issues the official certificate of veterinary inspection. The tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics must be administered before the dog is offered for sale in the state, unless the licensed, accredited veterinarian certifies on the official certificate of veterinary inspection that to inoculate or deworm the dog is not in the best medical interest of the dog, in which case the vaccine or anthelmintic may not be administered to that particular dog. Each dog must receive vaccines and anthelmintics against the following diseases and internal parasites:
1. Canine distemper.
2. Leptospirosis.
3. Bordetella (by intranasal inoculation or by an alternative method of administration if deemed necessary by the attending veterinarian and noted on the health certificate, which must be administered in this state once before sale).
4. Parainfluenza.
5. Hepatitis.
6. Canine parvo.
7. Rabies, provided the dog is over 3 months of age and the inoculation is administered by a licensed veterinarian.
8. Roundworms.
9. Hookworms.

If the dog is under 4 months of age, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered no more than 21 days before sale within the state. If the dog is 4 months of age or older, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered at or after 3 months of age, but no more than 1 year before sale within the state.
(2) (a) For each cat transported into the state for sale, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered by or under the direction of a veterinarian, licensed by the state of origin and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture, who issues the official certificate of veterinary inspection. The tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics must be administered no more than 30 days and no less than 14 days before the cat's entry into the state. The official certificate of veterinary inspection certifying compliance with this section must accompany each cat transported into the state for sale.
(b) For each cat offered for sale within the state, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered by or under the direction of a veterinarian, licensed by the state and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture, who issues the official certificate of veterinary inspection. The tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics must be administered before the cat is offered for sale in the state, unless the licensed, accredited veterinarian certifies on the official certificate of veterinary inspection that to inoculate or deworm the cat is not in the best medical interest of the cat, in which case the vaccine or anthelmintic may not be administered to that particular cat. Each cat must receive vaccines and anthelmintics against the following diseases and internal parasites:
1. Panleukopenia.
2. Feline viral rhinotracheitis.
3. Calici virus.
4. Rabies, if the cat is over 3 months of age and the inoculation is administered by a licensed veterinarian.
5. Hookworms.
6. Roundworms.

If the cat is under 4 months of age, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered no more than 21 days before sale within the state. If the cat is 4 months of age or older, the tests, vaccines, and anthelmintics required by this section must be administered at or after 3 months of age, but no more than 1 year before sale within the state.
(3) (a) Each dog or cat subject to subsection (1) or subsection (2) must be accompanied by a current official certificate of veterinary inspection at all times while being offered for sale within the state. The examining veterinarian must retain one copy of the official certificate of veterinary inspection on file for at least 1 year after the date of examination. At the time of sale of the animal, one copy of the official certificate of veterinary inspection must be given to the buyer. The seller must retain one copy of the official certificate of veterinary inspection on record for at least 1 year after the date of sale.
(b) The term "official certificate of veterinary inspection" means a legible certificate of veterinary inspection signed by the examining veterinarian licensed by the state of origin and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture, that shows the age, sex, breed, color, and health record of the dog or cat, the printed or typed names and addresses of the person or business from whom the animal was obtained, the consignor or seller, the consignee or purchaser, and the examining veterinarian, and the veterinarian's license number. The official certificate of veterinary inspection must list all vaccines and deworming medications administered to the dog or cat, including the manufacturer, vaccine, type, lot number, expiration date, and the dates of administration thereof, and must state that the examining veterinarian warrants that, to the best of his or her knowledge, the animal has no sign of contagious or infectious diseases and has no evidence of internal or external parasites, including coccidiosis and ear mites, but excluding fleas and ticks. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall supply the official intrastate certificate of veterinary inspection required by this section at cost.
(c) The examination of each dog and cat by a veterinarian must take place no more than 30 days before the sale within the state. The examination must include, but not be limited to, a fecal test to determine if the dog or cat is free of internal parasites, including hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. If the examination warrants, the dog or cat must be treated with a specific anthelmintic. In the absence of a definitive parasitic diagnosis, each dog or cat must be given a broad spectrum anthelmintic. Each dog over 6 months of age must also be tested for heartworms. Each cat must also be tested for feline leukemia before being offered for sale in the state. All of these tests must be performed by or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, and the results of the tests must be listed on the official certificate of veterinary inspection.
(d) All dogs and cats offered for sale and copies of certificates held by the seller and veterinarian are subject to inspection by any agent of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, any agent of the United States Department of Agriculture, any law enforcement officer, or any agent appointed under s. 828.03.
(4) A person may not transport into the state for sale or offer for sale within the state any dog or cat that is less than 8 weeks of age.
(5) If, within 14 days following the sale by a pet dealer of an animal subject to this section, a licensed veterinarian of the consumer's choosing certifies that, at the time of the sale, the animal was unfit for purchase due to illness or disease, the presence of symptoms of a contagious or infectious disease, or the presence of internal or external parasites, excluding fleas and ticks; or if, within 1 year following the sale of an animal subject to this section, a licensed veterinarian of the consumer's choosing certifies such animal to be unfit for purchase due to a congenital or hereditary disorder which adversely affects the health of the animal; or if, within 1 year following the sale of an animal subject to this section, the breed, sex, or health of such animal is found to have been misrepresented to the consumer, the pet dealer shall afford the consumer the right to choose one of the following options:
(a) The right to return the animal and receive a refund of the purchase price, including the sales tax, and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary costs directly related to the veterinarian's examination and certification that the dog or cat is unfit for purchase pursuant to this section and directly related to necessary emergency services and treatment undertaken to relieve suffering;
(b) The right to return the animal and receive an exchange dog or cat of the consumer's choice of equivalent value, and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary costs directly related to the veterinarian's examination and certification that the dog or cat is unfit for purchase pursuant to this section and directly related to necessary emergency services and treatment undertaken to relieve suffering; or
(c) The right to retain the animal and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinary costs for necessary services and treatment related to the attempt to cure or curing of the dog or cat.

Reimbursement for veterinary costs may not exceed the purchase price of the animal. The cost of veterinary services is reasonable if comparable to the cost of similar services rendered by other licensed veterinarians in proximity to the treating veterinarian and the services rendered are appropriate for the certification by the veterinarian.
(6) A consumer may sign a waiver relinquishing his or her right to return the dog or cat for congenital or hereditary disorders. In the case of such waiver, the consumer has 48 normal business hours, excluding weekends and holidays, in which to have the animal examined by a licensed veterinarian of the consumer's choosing. If the veterinarian certifies that, at the time of sale, the dog or cat was unfit for purchase due to a congenital or hereditary disorder, the pet dealer must afford the consumer the right to choose one of the following options:
(a) The right to return the animal and receive a refund of the purchase price, including sales tax, but excluding the veterinary costs related to the certification that the dog or cat is unfit; or
(b) The right to return the animal and receive an exchange dog or cat of the consumer's choice of equivalent value, but not a refund of the veterinary costs related to the certification that the dog or cat is unfit.
(7) A pet dealer may specifically state at the time of sale, in writing to the consumer, the presence of specific congenital or hereditary disorders, in which case the consumer has no right to any refund or exchange for those disorders.
(8) The refund or exchange required by subsection (5) or subsection (6) shall be made by the pet dealer not later than 10 business days following receipt of a signed veterinary certification as required in subsection (5) or subsection (6). The consumer must notify the pet dealer within 2 business days after the veterinarian's determination that the animal is unfit. The written certification of unfitness must be presented to the pet dealer not later than 3 business days following receipt thereof by the consumer.
(9) An animal may not be determined unfit for sale on account of an injury sustained or illness contracted after the consumer takes possession of the animal. A veterinary finding of intestinal or external parasites is not grounds for declaring a dog or cat unfit for sale unless the animal is clinically ill because of that condition.
(10) If a pet dealer wishes to contest a demand for veterinary expenses, refund, or exchange made by a consumer under this section, the dealer may require the consumer to produce the animal for examination by a licensed veterinarian designated by the dealer. Upon such examination, if the consumer and the dealer are unable to reach an agreement that constitutes one of the options set forth in subsection (5) or subsection (6) within 10 business days following receipt of the animal for such examination, the consumer may initiate an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover or obtain reimbursement of veterinary expenses, refund, or exchange.
(11) This section does not in any way limit the rights or remedies that are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
(12) Every pet dealer who sells an animal to a consumer must provide the consumer at the time of sale with a written notice, printed or typed, which reads as follows:

It is the consumer's right, pursuant to section 828.29, Florida Statutes, to receive a certificate of veterinary inspection with each dog or cat purchased from a pet dealer. Such certificate shall list all vaccines and deworming medications administered to the animal and shall state that the animal has been examined by a Florida-licensed veterinarian who certifies that, to the best of the veterinarian's knowledge, the animal was found to have been healthy at the time of the veterinary examination. In the event that the consumer purchases the animal and finds it to have been unfit for purchase as provided in section 828.29(5), Florida Statutes, the consumer must notify the pet dealer within 2 business days of the veterinarian's determination that the animal was unfit. The consumer has the right to retain, return, or exchange the animal and receive reimbursement for certain related veterinary services rendered to the animal, subject to the right of the dealer to have the animal examined by another veterinarian.
(13) For the purposes of subsections (5)-(12) and (16), the term "pet dealer" means any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other association which, in the ordinary course of business, engages in the sale of more than two litters, or 20 dogs or cats, per year, whichever is greater, to the public. This definition includes breeders of animals who sell such animals directly to a consumer.
(14) The state attorney may bring an action to enjoin any violator of this section or s. 828.12 or s. 828.13 from being a pet dealer.
(15) County-operated or city-operated animal control agencies and registered nonprofit humane organizations are exempt from this section.
(16) A pet dealer may not knowingly misrepresent the breed, sex, or health of any dog or cat offered for sale within the state.
(17) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person who violates any provision of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.


Minnesota Law

This Law should apply to anyone who sells a puppy, but many backyard breeders selling dogs through the classifieds are unaware of their responsibilities. Minnesota pure-bred dog clubs are trying to educate the public of their rights and obligations under this Law. It is interesting to note that this Law pertains to cats also.

Pros: applies to all sellers of puppies, including back yard breeders.

Cons: back yard breeders are unaware of their obligations and do not make buyers aware of their rights.


Massachusetts Law

This Law is actually entitled "Operation and Licensing of Pet Shops" so it does not apply to most hobby breeders. It does have provisions similar to the Puppy Lemon Laws of the other states, so it is included here.

Pros: does not effect most hobby breeders

Cons: does not effect back yard breeders, time period to find congenital problems too short.

New Jersey Law

Most hobby breeders do not regard their activities as "for profit", but in the eyes of the law, they probably are. The only ones exempt by this definition would probably be SPCAs and Humane Societies.

Pros: reasonable period for finding congenital problems; very inclusive.

Cons: covering veterinary expenses for diagnostic tests might double to obligation for the seller.

Free Puppy Lemon Law Help - PA and NJ

New York Law

Since the number of pet sales necessary to fall within the definition of a "pet dealer" is fairly low, a lot of hobby breeders in N.Y. will have to know this Law. This Law does apply to both cats and dogs.

Pros: effects only very active hobby breeders

Cons: covering veterinary expenses for diagnostic tests might double the obligation for the seller.

Every pet dealer in New York who sells an animal to a consumer shall post a notice clearly visible to the consumer and provide the consumer at the time of sale with a written notice, printed or typed, setting forth the rights provided under this article. Such notices shall be prescribed by the commissioner, but the written notice may be contained in a written contract, an animal history certificate or separate document, provided such notices are in ten-point boldface type. More.....

Pennsylvania Law (effective August 26, 1997)

The PA Federation of Dogs Clubs has been working for more than 6 years to get this proposal enacted, but has met stiff opposition from organized commercial kennels. Many compromises have had to been made including the length of time in which problems can be found and the fact that the proposal will only apply to licensed kennels. Obviously this allows uneducated backyard breeders off the hook despite their contributions to the problem of ill-bred puppies.

Pros: brings accountability to a state with far more than its share of commercial kennels (i.e. puppy mills).

Cons: time limit to find hereditary or congenital problems too short, made necessary by political power of commercial kennels.

PENNSYLVANIA update--- Puppy Lemon Law Public Notice

This notice shall be conspicuously posted in the place of business of persons subject to this section as enforced by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. This disclosure of rights is a summary of Pennsylvania Law.A written notice setting forth the rights provided under Section 9.3 of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law shall be provided to you at the time of the sale. A civil penalty of up to $1,000 shall be levied for each violation in addition to any other penalty under this act.

1. A seller shall provide you with a health record for the dog at the time of sale. The health record must contain information as required by the Law.

2. The seller shall provide a health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 21 days prior to the date of sale OR a guarantee of good health issued and signed by the seller. The health certificate and the guarantee of good health must contain information as required by the Law.

3. To preserve your rights under the Law, you must take your newly purchased dog to a licensed veterinarian for examination within 10 days of purchase. If a veterinarian determines, within 10 days of purchase, that your dog is clinically ill or has died from an injury sustained or illness likely to have been contracted on or before the date of sale and delivery, you have the following options:

(a) Return the dog for a complete refund; (b) Return the dog for a replacement dog of equal value; OR (c) Retain the dog and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees, not exceeding the purchase price.These options do not apply where a seller, who has provided a health certificate issued by a veterinarian, discloses in writing at the time of sale the health problem for which the buyer later seeks to return the dog.

4. If, within 30 days of purchase, a licensed veterinarian determines that your dog has a congenital or hereditary defect which adversely affects the animal’s health or that your dog died from a congenital or hereditary defect, you have the same options as outlined in Section 3 (above).

5. Within 2 business days of a veterinarian’s certification of your dog’s illness, defect or death, you must notify the seller of the name, address and telephone number of the examining veterinarian. Failure to notify the seller within 2 business days will result in forfeiture of rights.

6. Refunds or reimbursements shall be made no later than 14 days after the seller receives the veterinarian certification. Veterinarian certification shall be presented to the seller not later than 5 days after you receive it.

7. Registerable Dogs — If the seller does not provide within 120 days all documentation to effect registration,you may exercise one of the following options:
(a) Return the dog and receive a full refund of the purchase price; OR (b) Retain the dog and receive a 50% refund of the purchase price.

8. If registerable, the seller shall provide at the time of sale: the breeder’s name and address, the name and registration number of the dam and sire, and the name and address of the pedigree registry organization where the dam and sire are registered.

For further information concerning your rights under Section 9.3 of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law contact:

Pennsylvania Office Attorney General
Mike Fisher
Consumer Protection Hotline

1-800-441-2555


South Carolina Law

The definition of a breeder here seems to eliminate backyard breeders, but active hobby breeders may be considered "for profit" in the eyes of the Law.

Pros: reasonable period for finding congenital defects.

Cons: obscure definition for "pet breeder", unclear to whom it applies.


Virginia Law

The Law is unclear to whom this Law applies. Effectively, it is being applied to anyone who sells a puppy. Several breeders in Virginia were unaware of the Law or were not sure if it applied to them. It is important to note that the Virginia Law only applies to dogs that are registered or are capable of being registered with any animal registry organization.

Pros: does not appear to apply to hobby breeders.

Cons: short period in which to find congenital or hereditary defects.


Vermont Law

This Law also contains the provisions that require the seller to cover the costs of testing for defects. If a defect is found, the seller may be liable for double the purchase price of the dog.

Pros: reasonable period in which to find congenital or hereditary defects.

Cons: applies to everyone except backyard breeders.

More puppy lemon laws in pdf format are here

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