PA 09-228—sSB 499

Environment Committee

Judiciary Committee

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

SUMMARY: This act expands protections for people who buy a dog or cat from a licensed pet shop that is ill or dies shortly after the sale.

It also requires:

1. dogs that licensed pet shops sell to have certificates of origin that identify specific information on anyone who bred or sold 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.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

PET LEMON LAW

By law, pet shop licensees must refund the purchase price of a dog or cat 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 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. Under prior law, consumers had 15 days to take advantage of the reimbursement or replacement provision when the animal became ill or died from an illness that existed when they bought it. The act extends the protection period to 20 days.

The act also:

1. specifies that a diagnosis of a “congenital defect” that adversely affects or will affect a dog or cat's health triggers the consumer's refund or replacement option 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 the option and

2. explicitly allows the consumer to choose the veterinarian who certifies that a dog or cat had or died of an illness that existed when it was sold (by law, the consumer must provide certification from a veterinarian that the animal was sick at the time of purchase or died from a disease it had when purchased, which is sufficient proof to claim reimbursement or replacement).

Under prior law, if the dog or cat was ill, the pet store had to reimburse services and medication costs up to $200 when the consumer provided a certificate from a licensed veterinarian about the illness. The act increases, to up to $500, the amount that pet shops must reimburse for services and medication costs and also requires such reimbursement for animals with congenital defects.

By law, pet shops that violate these requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $500 for each animal subject to the violation, and the attorney general, upon complaint from the Department of Agriculture commissioner, may institute a civil action in Hartford Superior Court to recover refunds required under the law.

Exception

Under the act, a pet shop licensee is not subject to any of the above obligations if a cat was spayed or neutered before purchase.

CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN AND PROHIBITED PURCHASES

The act requires any dog that a pet shop sells, or offers for sale, to come with a certificate of origin that identifies the name and address of the person, firm, or corporation that bred the dog and of anyone who sold the dog to a pet shop licensee.

The information in the certificate must be posted in a conspicuous manner no more than 10 feet from where the dog 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 no later than two days after the sale. (The law requires pet shops to display the place of a dog's birth and other information. )

Prohibited Purchases

The act prohibits a pet shop 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 U. S. Department of Agriculture license and one from any applicable state agency.

Violations

A pet shop licensee who violates these requirements may be fined up to $100, or imprisoned up to 30 days, or both, for each violation. Each day a pet shop 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, 38-point lettering that is 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 an Agriculture Department telephone number where information may be obtained regarding complaints about diseased or disabled animals offered for sale (CGS 22-344d).

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