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Pet Lemon Law




Did you buy a sick puppy or kitten from a NJ pet shop, breeder, kennel, broker or NJ online seller?
Have you spent hundreds - or even thousands - of dollars to treat your sick pet?
Does your new pet have an ongoing medical condition requiring medication or surgery?
Do the "registration papers" and/or breeder information appear to be phony?

It is critical to know that consumers have legal rights under the New Jersey Pet Purchase Protection Act and if any of the above applies to you, you may be entitled to reimbursement by the pet dealer!

Key Points

You do NOT have to return your puppy (or kitten) if s/he is sick.

If your puppy becomes sick or dies within 2 weeks after purchase, and you obtain a certificate of unfitness from your veterinarian, and you return the certification to the pet dealer within 5 days of receiving it, the seller is obligated to reimburse you for the vet bills not to exceed double the purchase price.

Pet dealers cannot direct you to their supervising veterinarian unless they provide you with the names of at least three veterinarians. To do otherwise is a conflict of interest and you may never get your certification of unfitness for the sick puppy. Don't fall for the "free" first visit or lifetime vaccinations and wormings from their supervising vets. This rule also applies to all pet dealers, including pet shops, breeders, and puppy brokers (those who buy from others for resale).

Pet dealers must give you the name and address of your puppy's breeder. It doesn't matter if the puppy is a mixed breed (those so-called designer breeds that are not registerable) or if the puppy comes from a federally exempt hobby breeder (one who allegedly has fewer than 3 breeding females). If you have questions or run into problems with any pet shop or puppy seller, contact us for assistance and we will refer you to the proper agencies that have jurisdiction over the pet store, breeder, puppy broker (reseller), Internet seller or so-called rescuer.

What buyers must be given at the time of sale

Under the Division of Consumer Affairs Regulations (N.J.A.C. 13:34A-1, Subchapter 12, Sale of Animals) it is a deceptive practice for pet dealers to sell an animal within the State of New Jersey without an animal history and health certificate and without providing the consumer with a completed animal history and health certificate. The animal history and health certificate shall be signed by the pet dealer, his agent or employee, and shall contain the following information:

  • the animal's breed, sex, age, color, and birth date;
  • the name and address of the person from whom the pet dealer purchased the animal;
  • the breeder's name and address, and the litter number of the animal;
  • the name and registration number of the animal's sire and dam;
  • the date the pet dealer took possession of the animal;
  • the date the animal was shipped to the pet dealer, where such date is known by the dealer;
  • the date or dates on which the animal was examined by a veterinarian licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey, the name and address of such veterinarian, the findings made and the treatment, if any, taken or given to the animal;
  • A statement of all vaccinations and inoculations administered to the animal, including the identity and quantity of the vaccine or inoculum administered, the name and address of the person or licensed veterinarian administering the same, and the date of administering the vaccinations and inoculations.
If Your Puppy Is Certified to Be Unfit for Sale
If your puppy was certified to be unfit for sale by a licensed veterinarian, you have the right to choose one of the following options:

  • Return your animal and receive a refund of the purchase price including sales tax; OR
  • Keep your animal and attempt to cure it; OR
  • Return your animal and receive an animal (of equivalent value) of your choice.
In the event that you choose to keep the animal, veterinary fees, including future fees, limited to twice the purchase price of the animal, including sales tax, which were related to the condition rendering the animal unfit for sale, must be paid by the pet dealer. If you choose to return the animal, veterinary fees incurred prior to receipt of the veterinary certification, limited to twice the purchase price of the animal, including sales tax, which were related to the condition rendering the animal unfit for sale, must be paid by the pet dealer or the owner or operator of a pet shop.

Resources
NJ Department of Heath – Office of Animal Welfare
Directory of NJ Health Departments