We're barking about puppy mills this week as we count down to September 17 - National Puppy Mill Awareness Day 2011.
According to the ASPCA, if you buy a puppy from a pet shop, you run a high risk of taking home a sick animal. Respiratory infections including pneumonia, as well as hereditary defects like hip dysplasia and severe allergies, are common among the indiscriminately bred puppies sold by commercial breeders. If you have purchased a pet-store puppy who turned out to be sick, you may have some recourse. Twenty states have enacted "Lemon Laws" that make pet stores financially responsible for sick animals purchased from them.
These states have enacted laws that protect consumers when purchasing pets: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. While each state's laws differ with regard to time limits and conditions under which a purchaser may return a companion animal, all these states allow a consumer to return a "defective pet" and receive a refund or exchange. Some allow pet owners to retain the pet and receive reimbursement for vet expense. All cover dogs, fifteen states also cover cats. For more information visit the Animal Legal and Historical Center at the Michigan State University College of Law.
As of yesterday, there's a new law proposed in Michigan that would entitle pet owners to a refund if their dog has a defect due to coming from a Puppy Mill.