OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 499 (File 467, as amended by Senate "A")*

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.

It also requires:

1. dogs or cats that pet shops or kennel licensees 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 with 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.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) clarifies that a dog or cat must have been ill at the time of purchase to qualify for a refund or replacement under the bill; (2) removes specification from the underlying bill that the $ 500 reimbursement for services or medications under the bill is in addition to refund for the cost of the animal; (3) gives consumers an additional five, instead of 15 days under the underlying bill, to claim refund or replacement cost; (4) removes commercial kennels from the bill's requirements, replacing them with kennels; and (5) modifies the bill's certificate of origin requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

PET LEMON LAW

Refund and Reimbursement

Under current law, if 15 days after 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 purchase price. It must do so in the case of (1) illness, when the consumer returns the animal and has a certificate from a licensed veterinarian stating that the animal 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 animal died from an illness that existed at the time of sale.

If the dog or cat 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 the illnesses that trigger refund or replacement requirements and gives the consumer up to six months from the sale of a dog or cat diagnosed with a congenital defect to take advantage of them;

2. gives consumers 20 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. (a) increases, from $ 200 to $ 500, the amount that pet shops must reimburse consumers for the costs of services and medication that a licensed veterinarian provided the sick animal and (b) imposes this requirement on kennels as well.

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.

By law, pet shops that violate these requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $ 500 for each animal subject to the violation. The bill extends this to kennels.

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 imposes these same requirements on kennel licensees, as well as other requirements under existing law concerning the sale of sick animals.

By law, a “kennel” means one pack or collection of dogs kept under one ownership at a single location and bred for show, sport, or sale (CGS 22-327). Any owner or keeper of a kennel who breeds more than two litters of dogs annually must be licensed by the town in which the kennel is located (CGS 22-342).

CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN AND PROHIBITED PURCHASES

The bill requires any dog or cat that a pet shop or kennel licensee sells, or offers for sale, to come with a certificate of origin that identifies the name and address of anyone who bred or sold the animal. (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 prohibits a pet shop or 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 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 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 on 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)

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

41

Nay

0

(04/21/2009)