HSVMA Supports Pet Lemon Law in Illinois
Legislation Aids Families Who Purchase Ill Animals from Pet Dealers

May 29, 2013

Yorkies in MS puppy mill
Pet "Lemon Laws" protect people who unknowingly purchase sick pets from pet dealers, such as pet stores and online brokers selling dogs from puppy mills.
Chuck Cook/For The HSUS

As part of a campaign to address the health and welfare problems created by puppy mills, HSVMA is supporting "pet lemon laws" — legislation designed to provide legal and financial recourse to people who purchase animals from pet dealers and then find out that the purchased animal has a disease or defect. Veterinary professionals are all too familiar with this situation. Families purchase a puppy or kitten from a pet store and then struggle with the heartbreak – and financial hardship – as their pet becomes ill and they face mounting medical bills, sometimes in the thousands of dollars.

At least 20 states already have some type of law to help address these types of situations, and the HSVMA is currently supporting an Illinois bill, SB1639, that would provide recourse for Illinois families and their pets. SB1639, which was approved by the Illinois Legislature in May and is now awaiting the governor’s signature, would amend the state's Animal Welfare Act to do the following:

Disclosure Regarding Warranties and Refunds

Prior to the time of sale, every pet shop operator must, to the best of his or her knowledge, provide to the consumer a copy of the pet shop's policy regarding warranties, refunds, or returns and an explanation of the remedy provided for customers who have purchased animals with congenital or hereditary disorders.

Disclosure Regarding Disease Outbreaks

If there is an outbreak of distemper, parvovirus, or any other contagious and potentially life-threatening disease affecting more than two dogs at a seller's pet shop or kennel within a 60-day period, then the seller shall provide each customer who purchases a dog a written notice stating the nature of the outbreak, and shall notify the State Veterinarian of the outbreak within two business days after becoming aware that a third animal has contracted the disease. In addition, the pet shop operator shall notify the Department of Agriculture immediately upon becoming aware of the disease. If the Department issues a quarantine, the pet shop operator shall notify, in writing and within two business days of the quarantine, each customer who purchased a dog or cat during the two-week period prior to the outbreak and quarantine.

21-Day Timeframe for Seeking Remedy

Customers who purchased a dog or cat from a pet shop are entitled to a remedy if, within 21 days after the date of sale, a licensed veterinarian states in writing that at the time of sale the dog or cat was unfit for purchase due to illness or disease, the presence of symptoms of a contagious or infectious disease, or obvious signs of severe parasitism that are extreme enough to influence the general health of the animal, excluding fleas or ticks.

Reimbursement of Purchase Price

That when a customer is entitled to a remedy under the Act, the customer may retain the animal and be reimbursed for reasonable veterinary fees for diagnosis and treatment of the animal, not to exceed the purchase price of the animal or return the animal to the seller.

Option to Elect Pet Seller’s Warranty

If a pet seller offers its own warranty, a customer may choose to waive the remedy provided in the Act and elect instead the protection from the pet seller's warranty.

HSVMA endorsed SB1639 by submitting a letter of support to the Illinois legislature in March prior to action in the Legislature. As noted above, the bill is now awaiting signature by Governor Pat Quinn. Veterinary professionals who reside or work in Illinois are strongly encouraged to contact Governor Quinn and urge him to sign SB1639 into law. Contact the governor now»

Learn more about puppy mills and their impact on dog health in the
HSVMA Veterinary Report on Puppy Mills»