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Filing Complaints

My Puppy's Sick...what do I do?
If you recently purchased a puppy from a pet shop, breeder, via the internet, or from what you suspect is a pet dealer posing as a rescue, the steps provided below will guide you in filing a complaint.

First, your puppy should be examined by your own veterinarian or one of YOUR choosing, not one the store or pet seller recommends. Oftentimes pet sellers will insist you bring the puppy back to them, or to the store or to their "supervising" vet. It is important your veterinarian has no ties or relationship with the pet store or breeder. Puppies sold in pet shops or by brokers or unscrupulous breeders and shady rescues are commonly plagued by serious parasites such as Coccidia and Giardia, and/or upper respiratory infections like kennel cough or pneumonia or, worse, contagious and oftentimes fatal diseases like Parvo and distemper. Under the Puppy Lemon Law, vet expenses for these conditions are reimbursable when puppies are certified "unfit for purchase".

Assemble all documentation, including any paperwork you received from the pet store or breeder when you purchased the dog, including receipts and the "certificate of unfitness" from the treating veterinarian. You will need to provide copies to the proper agencies that can investigate and prosecute. Do NOT return any paperwork to the pet dealer without making copies for your records. In fact, buyers/adopters should keep all originals and give copies to the pet dealer.

If the pet dealer is advertising in newspaper or online classifieds or over the internet, make copies of the ads and/or website.
One simple step is all it takes to find out who you're dealing with before you purchase: just Google their name, address or phone number, and even their email addresses. Many unscrupulous dealers use several aliases to hide their bad history or criminal background.

How to file a Complaint

For NJ pet dealers, including pet shops, breeders, brokers and phony rescues, call the following:

The local health department has jurisdiction over pet dealers. Click here to find the local health department contact for your NJ county/town.

NJ Division of Consumer Affairs, Newark, NJ
(973) 504-6200 Consumer Service Center Hotline
(800) 242-5846 (toll free, New Jersey only)

The Office of Veterinary Public Health : 609-826-4872 or 609-826-5964
NJ SPCA: 1-800-582-5979

For breeders, brokers, or anyone advertising as a rescuer:

Find out if they are a registered NJ business! Call the NJ Treasury Department at 609-292-9292 or visit

Check with local zoning departments to see if pet sellers are operating legally, or in a permitted use zone. Oftentimes these people are breaking local zoning laws. The zoning officer can be reached by calling the local municipal office or clerk's office.

Call the county or local health department and ask them to investigate. Local health departments regularly contract with animal control officers and will dispatch someone to investigate.

Report the seller to Consumer Affairs. Anyone selling, or even offering to sell, five or more dogs to the public per year is defined as a pet dealer under the NJ Pet Purchase Protection Act and Consumer Fraud Act. It doesn't matter if they are licensed by the municipality or not, or claim to be a rescuer.

NJ SPCA: 1-800-582-5979

IRS Charities Search: Note: a 501c3 exempt status does not guarantee legitimacy of a group, or that it is acting responsibly. It only qualifies them to receive tax-deductible donations.