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Pet Lemon Laws Become Increasingly Common

From the March 1, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association: Lemon laws aren't just for automobiles in some states. As...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  May 25th 2008


From the March 1, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Lemon laws aren’t just for automobiles in some states. As of late 2007, 18 states had passed lemon laws to provide legal recourse to people who purchase animals from pet dealers only to discover that the animals have a disease or defect.

Defect? I’m not sure I like that wording. “Congenital abnormality” would be more appropriate, in my opinion.

The article goes on:

Under the various laws, the amount of time that a purchaser has to make a claim ranges from seven to 20 days for illness or injury and 10 days to two years for congenital or hereditary conditions. [That’s more like it! — EB] Common remedies include replacement of the animal, a refund of the purchase price, and reimbursement of veterinary expenses–generally up to the purchase price of the animal.

Even without lemon laws, many breeders offer health guarantees on the puppies and kittens that they produce. But the laws and guarantees sometimes fail to take human emotions into account.

For instance, I have identified health problems in several pets that were “under warranty” from breeders. When my clients advised the breeders of the problems, the breeders offered to replace the pets. It sounds good on paper, but by the time the problems were identified, my clients had fallen in love with their pets and wouldn’t consider replacing them. In these cases, the warranties were useless.

Let’s face it. Pets aren’t cars. Lemon laws may help to promote higher breeding standards, but they definitely have their limitations.

For more information about pet lemon laws, click here.