The Pet Lemon Law

Know the Lemon Laws for Pets Before You Buy

In general, the pet lemon law is fairly new, but essentially is very similar to the law that applies to defective cars and other products.


Emotions run just as high with buying a lemon pet.

What Does This Law Take Care of?

The pet lemon law is just as it sounds. It's a law that provides protection to someone who purchases a pet from a pet dealer (that is, someone who earns his or her living from raising and/or selling pets. In the event that the pet does not meet certain criteria listed in the law, you, as the purchaser, can ask for a replacement or a refund.

The law states that the breeder or dealer may not knowingly mislead the buyer about certain aspects of a pet. These aspects include breed purity, sex and health of the dog or cat you purchased.

As defined by law, a dealer is anyone who sells 20 dogs or cats per year, or two litters per year. This allows for the exclusion of someone who is simply selling puppies out of their garage because their dog became pregnant.

The Lemon Law and Pet Protection

Primarily, the protected classes for the Pet Lemon Law are dogs and cats. More specifically, the law deals with animals that are bred for selling. However, because most dealers do not deal in large quantities of other types of animals, there is little of reason to check into the backgrounds of them.

Therefore, because of the sheer quantity and the high demand for specific types of cats and dogs, the pet lemon law was put in place to protect you from being deceived about the puppy or kitten you purchase. Also, due to some of the methods of breeding these cats and dogs, there is a higher likelihood that disease and deformity will occur.

Case History?

Because this is such a new law, there is not a lot of history of cases in court. In many instances, the case doesn't make it to court. The pet store or breeder does what is necessary to appease the customer and tries to correct the situation rather than face the bad publicity.

There is also the issue of where the animal is purchased and whether the problem is covered under the pet lemon law. These two factors are considered when determining whether a case will be filed or not.

Pet Lemon Law Background

The Pet Lemon Law is approximately 10 years old, depending on which state you are from. It is currently only on the books in seventeen states.

Each of those seventeen states has its own legislation and guidelines with which it applies the law. Each of the states has different methods for enforcing these laws.

The states with pet lemon laws are:

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • Minnesota

  • Nevada

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • Pennsylvania

  • South Carolina

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

  • Virginia

Florida and Pennsylvania seem to have the most intricate and well listed laws for protection of pet buyers.

Odds of Winning a Lemon Pet Complaint

The odds of winning a complaint are going to be based heavily on how well you're prepared as well as how organized you are when you are getting ready for your case!

Knowing what information to have as well as the timelines that need to be followed are just two factors that will determine whether you receive the results that you're looking for.

Essentially the odds depend on paperwork, and whether there is legitimate proof that the seller intentionally misled and wronged you.

The Pet Lemon Law—Winners and Losers

The sad truth is, this is mostly a lose-lose situation. If you have the companion you have sought, in many cases you will need to return this pet to the store in order to comply with the pet lemon law.

Therefore, your newly acquired friend, though ill or deformed, will no longer be yours, and you will end up back where you started in the first place.

A win (for your pet at least) would be to try to do what is in the best interest of your pet, allowing you to keep it and lessen its problems while seeking justice.

NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.


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