In states without a pet shop lemon law, consumers must result to relief under the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”), which regulates the sale of “goods”. Since pets are more than “goods”, the UCC does not provide as much protection to the consumer for pets as the state specific pet shop lemon laws do.
In Illinois, the Pet Shop Lemon Law allows pet owners who purchased a sick dog or cat from a pet store to have an avenue for recovery. When the pet is sick, the consumer must obtain a statement from a veterinarian that at the time of purchase the pet was sick, or the pet had died from a disease that existed before the customer bought the pet and took it home. The consumer has to option to receive a replacement pet or receive reimbursement for veterinary bills should they keep the sick animal if the veterinarian determined that the pet was sick at the time it was sold.
Additionally, there is a year for the customer to seek remedy under the statute if a pet had a congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects its health, requires hospitalization or a surgical procedure or has died from such. If the customer and pet shop do not reach an agreement within 10 business days, then the parties may agree to binding arbitration or the customer may bring suit in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Specifically, the remedies under 225 ILCS 605/3.15(g) are as follows:
1. Return of the pet for a full refund;
2. Exchange of the pet for another of “comparable value chosen by the customer”;
3. Keep the pet and be reimbursed for “reasonable veterinary fees for the diagnosis and treatment…not to exceed the purchase price” of the pet;
4. If the pet is deceased, refund of the purchase price “plus reasonable veterinary fees associated with the diagnosis and treatment…not to exceed one times the purchase price” of the pet.
The reimbursement must be within 10 business days, unless the shop contests the charges. Reasonable expenses and costs of services are discussed further in 225 ILCS 605/3.15(h).
In addition to the remedies available to consumers who purchase a sick pet, the Pet Shop Lemon Law also requires pet stores to inform the Illinois Department of Agriculture immediately if an outbreak of distemper, parvovirus, or any other contagious and potentially life-threatening disease occurs. Furthermore, the pet store must report to customers within 2 days, in writing, if an outbreak of distemper, parvovirus, or any other contagious and potentially life-threatening disease occurs [i]f the Illinois Department of Agriculture issues a quarantine” and the customer had “purchased a dog or cat during the 2-week period prior to the outbreak and quarantine.” See 225 ILCS 605/3.15(e)
According to the Illinois governor one purpose of the law was to prevent puppy mills from selling their dogs to pet shops, since the pet shop owners would be liable under the law.