Over the last few months, it has come to my attention that several pet shops in NYC are purchasing dogs from puppy mills, advertising the dogs as being “locally bred” and then selling the trendy dogs for a huge profit. Several of these dogs are getting sick and sometimes dying almost immediately after purchase. If this happens to you, it is important to know your rights. New York has a Pet Shop Lemon Law that will allow purchasers of defective or sick dogs to be reimbursed.
Article 35-D of the New York General Business Law (“GBL”) governs the sale of cats and dogs. It is colloquially referred to as “The Pet Shop Lemon Law.” Section 753(1) gives purchasers a remedy if within fourteen days of the purchase of the cat or dog a licensed veterinarian officially certifies that the companion animal was “unfit for purchase” due to illness, congential malformation or disease. This certificate from the vet is required for relief under the NY Pet Shop Lemon Law. If you are in the animal hospital within two weeks of purchase, ask the veterinarian for this certificate.
If the vet does certify the pet as being “unfit for purchase” then the purchaser has three different options under section 753(1):
1. the right to return the animal and receive a refund;
2. the right to return the animal and receive a replacement animal; or
3. the right to retain the animal and be reimbursed for reasonable veterinary costs for the purposing of curing the pet.
New York courts have held that the veterinary costs cannot exceed the purchase price of the animal. Additionally, there are also potential causes of action against the pet shop for deceptive trade practices, false advertising, fraudulent/negligent misrepresentation and common law contract claims.