It’s a heartbreaking scenario: You and your family decide to open your home to a friendly puppy or adorable kitten. After finding an animal with an irresistible personality, one that projects unlimited loyalty and love, you buy your new pet and take it home.
But a few hours or a few days after you pay for your new friend, it suddenly loses its strength, begins shaking or vomiting, and must be rushed to an animal hospital. You learn the dog or cat is seriously ill and needs thousands of dollars’ worth of veterinary care. Or, worse, after just a few days the animal dies.
The Humane Society of America is currently engaged in a class action lawsuit against a large online dog seller, accusing the Internet company of selling dogs from commercial-scale puppy mills that allegedly put profits before animal care and did little to care for the health of the animals it sold. The lawsuit brings a nationwide spotlight to the risks consumers face when they buy pets from allegedly unscrupulous dealers.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today is taking the opportunity to remind consumers that the State’s Consumer Fraud Act and Pet Purchase Protection Act require pet dealers to provide complete and clear information about the health of all animals they offer for sale.
“If a pet you purchase becomes seriously ill or dies shortly after you take it home, you may be entitled to restitution,” Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Much more importantly, however, consumers can help prevent this from happening by conducting research before buying a pet. Learn everything you can about the pet dealer, and talk with people who have done business with them. Consumers also should strongly consider adopting a pet, free of charge, from a responsible animal shelter or rescue group.”
The Division of Consumer Affairs in August filed a lawsuit against a pet dealer accused of repeatedly selling gravely ill puppies, many of which died within days of being sold.
Consumer rights under New Jersey's Pet Regulations:
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