OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 499

AN ACT CONCERNING A PET LEMON LAW AND THE RELEASE OF RABIES VACCINATION RECORDS TO ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS.

SUMMARY:

This bill expands the protection for people who buy from a pet shop a dog or cat that is ill or dies shortly after the sale, and adds these requirements for commercial kennels.

It also requires:

1. dogs or cats that pet shops or commercial kennels sell to have certificates of origin that identify specific information on anyone who had custody of the animal before sale, among other things; and

2. a licensed veterinarian, upon request of the chief Animal Control Officer (ACO) or any ACO, to provide the officer a copy of a rabies certificate and any associated rabies vaccination records for a dog or cat that has bitten a person or another animal. Veterinarians who refuse to provide a copy commit an infraction.

The bill also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

PET LEMON LAW

Commercial Kennels

By law, a pet shop licensee must have a dog or cat examined by a licensed veterinarian before selling it. The licensee must do this every 15 days until he or she sells the animal, and keep a record. The bill adds commercial kennel licensees to this requirement and others under existing law and the bill concerning animals sold that were ill.

By law, commercial kennels are those maintained for boarding or grooming dogs or cats, and include any veterinary hospital that boards or grooms dogs or cats for nonmedical purposes.

Refund and Reimbursement

Under current law, if, 15 days after of being sold, a dog or cat becomes ill or dies of an illness that existed at the time of the sale, the pet shop, at the consumer's option, must refund the animal purchase price. It must do so in the case of (1) illness, when the consumer returns the dog or cat to the pet shop, and has a certificate from a licensed veterinarian stating that the dog or cat is ill from a condition that existed at the time of sale, and (2) death, when the consumer provides a death certificate from a licensed veterinarian that states the dog or cat died from an illness that existed at the time of sale.

If the dog was ill, the pet store has to reimburse services and medication costs up to $ 200 when the consumer provides a certificate from a licensed veterinarian about the illness.

The bill:

1. adds “congenital defects” to any illness as triggering refund or replacement requirements and gives the consumer up to six months from the sale of a dog or cat that is diagnosed with a congenital defect to take advantage of them,

2. gives consumers 30 days instead of 15 to act when a dog or cat becomes ill or dies from an illness that existed when they bought it,

3. specifically allows the consumer to choose the veterinarian who certifies that a dog or cat died of an illness that existed when it was sold, and

4. requires pet shops or commercial kennels to reimburse consumers up to $ 500, instead of $ 200, for the costs of services and medication that a licensed veterinarian provided the sick animal.

The bill maintains the current requirement that the consumer provide certification from a veterinarian that the animal was sick at the time of purchase or died from a disease it had when purchased. (Although it appears that an animal could be returned if it became sick after purchase, even if the illness did not exist when the animal was purchased. )

By law, petshops that violate these requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $ 500 for each animal subject to the violation.

CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN AND PROHIBITED PURCHASES

The bill requires any dog or cat that a pet shop or commercial kennel licensee sells, or offers for sale, to come with a certificate of origin that identifies the name, address, and telephone number of each person who had custody of the dog or cat at any time from the date of its birth until its sale here. (The law requires pet shops to display the place of a dog's birth and other information, see BACKGROUND. )

The certificate must be posted in a conspicuous manner no more than 10 feet from where the dog or cat is displayed for sale. The licensee must (1) give the consumer a copy of the certificate when it sells the animal and (2) file a copy with the Department of Agriculture (DOAG) no later than two days after the sale.

Prohibited Purchases

The bill explicitly prohibits a pet shop or commercial kennel licensee from purchasing a dog or cat for resale from a breeder or any other person, firm, or corporation located outside the state that does not possess a current license that the U. S. Department of Agriculture issues and one from any applicable state agency.

Violations

A pet shop or commercial kennel licensee who operates in violation of these requirements may be fined up to $ 100 or imprisoned up to 30 days, or both, for each violation. Each day a pet shop or commercial kennel commits a violation constitutes a separate offense.

BACKGROUND

Dogs for Sale at Pet Shops

By law, a pet shop must post on the cage of each dog it offers for sale a sign, at least 3 inches by 5 inches, which lists (1) the dog's breed, (2) the locality and state in which it was born, and (3) any individual identifying number on the veterinary inspection certificate from the state of origin.

In addition, each pet shop must prominently display a sign stating, in black lettering that is 38 point font size on a white background, that the following information is always available on all puppies the pet shop sells:

1. date and state of birth;

2. breed, sex, and color;

3. the date the pet shop received the puppy;

4. the names and registration numbers of the parents (for American Kennel Club registerable puppies);

5. records of inoculations and worming treatments; and

6. any record of veterinary treatment or medications received to date.

The sign must include a telephone number at the agriculture department where information may be obtained regarding complaints about diseased or disabled animals offered for sale (CGS 22-344d).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

26

Nay

4

(03/20/2009)