View Full Version : Legal options if your new cavalier is in poor health

14th March 2005, 11:36 PM
I have two articles here. Be sure to check out both. This first one is a long post, but packed with information on what to do if you are in the unfortunate position of having acquired a sick dog from

1) a petshop
2) a breeder, or
3) a broker. A broker is a middleman seller of puppies who might present themselves as a breeder, or say they are selling the pups for a family member who breeds. This is often said about Irish-import cavaliers and is almost always a lie.

Much of the information is detailed towards residents of Massachussetts but a little research should help residents of other states orr countries get an idea of the way they should proceed and the possibilities for action that might be there.

Note that recording and detailing all facts about the dog and its health issues from the beginning is important.

The section of dealing with brokers is toward the end. From this document it appears that brokers should be licensed by the USDA if they are dealing in dogs. Notifying the USDA about unlicensed brokers is a good first step as there are many with websites selling cavaliers where brokers are almost certainly unlicensed. Save a copy of the website homepage as evidence (just go to 'file' then 'save as' and save it to your harddrive).

<<Permission to cross post>>

Comment from Leigh Grady
Executive Director, Animal Shelter Inc. of Sterling in MA:

Hello there... as much as I hate the petstores in our area I hated even
more that NO ONE could tell me what to do about them or how to stop
them. I spend many months writing a document to implement for people who purchased pups... our shelter gets many calls for help and I'm proud to say that 19 families followed our document below and all 19 sued in
court, kept their dogs, won their case, reclaimed their money and
BANKRUPTED the store which closed!

please see below and please feel free to crosspost and forward it... it
took many months to research but we have already had success. I would
love to be able to get it networked to MORE groups so they can change
the formatting to fit their own state.... This document can easily be
adapted to fit other situations and states... please feel free to pass
it on or if you have any questions my contact info is WAY below...

Another sick puppy from a pet store? Here's what YOU NEED to do

You must understand a few simple 'rules' before you begin your mission.
It is best if you have all of your paperwork in front of you. Grab a
sheet of paper and jot down all the info as you find it.
Your puppy has been through several channels before it reaches you. Your
puppy was most likely born in a Midwest kennel (usually
Missouri---abbreviated 'MO'). When your puppy was 8 weeks old (as he/she
should be per FEDERAL LAW), the commercial breeder (A commercial breeder
is a USDA licensed breeder, also referred to as a Class 'A' Dealer. A
dog breeder is licensed by USDA when they sell their puppies through
wholesale channels, such as brokers and pet shops. Breeders who sell
only to the public do not have to be licensed by USDA.) sold the puppy
to a broker (A broker is the middleman in the dog industry. He is
licensed by USDA as a Class 'B' Dealer. He purchased puppies in bulk
from commercial breeders and resells and ships them to pet shops.) The
broker then held the puppy for several days and then transported to the
pet shop where you purchased it. Commercial breeders and brokers are
regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), however
pet shops are not. USDA licenses and inspects over 11,000 facilities in
the United States. You need to look at all of your paperwork and find
both the breeder and the broker. The breeder can normally be found on
the pet shop records (or registration papers, if you have them yet).

The first key to recouping money for sick pets is to DOCUMENT everything
from the minute you buy this pet. That means keeping a diary of daily
events ? hour by hour if possible. This includes but is NOT limited to:

First and foremost plan to send any documentation REGISTERED MAIL with a
return receipt!!! This means to EVERYONE. That way you will always have
proof your documents arrived and who they were signed by if any
questions or doubts arise!!! A couple extra dollars for mailing this
information is more important that you know.

1. First and foremost, review all your paperwork. Specifically you are
looking for a document that states:

XXX THIS PET IS FIT FOR SALE or something similar

ONE of these boxes MUST be checked. If you check mark falls in the NOT
SALEABLE category and you BOUGHT this pet?you have the best case for
re-cooping your money, vet bills and all other costs associated with
this pet. There you have in your hands DOCUMENTATION IN WRITING that
this pet is either unhealthy, deformed, sick, or such a poor quality
animal that no one should be ALLOWED TO SELL HIM/HER!!! You would be
surprised how many pet stores sell pets that are UNFIT FOR SALE. With
this information you SHOULD have an automatic case for a refund and you
could possibly recover money for vet costs and potential bills depending
on your circumstances.

Also? if you vet suspects your puppy isn't AT LEAST 8 weeks of age, or
the documentation provided by the pet store has been altered in any way,
scratched out or whited out and changed? the pet store has violated a
FEDERAL law called the Animal Welfare Act.

NOTE: Any person shipping dogs into Massachusetts from another state
must comply with 330 CMR 3.00 and the USDA's Animal Welfare Act, 7
U.S.C. Chapter 54, Section 2131 et seq. Puppies must be at least eight
weeks of age at the time of shipment. An official certificate of
veterinary inspection (OCVI) or health certificate from the state of
origin must accompany each puppy or dog. Each puppy or dog must be
identified with collar identification numbers that correspond to the
health certificate and shipping documents.

And then?
Massachusetts pet shop regulations require that all pet shop puppies
must be:

(1) isolated for a minimum of 48 hours by the clock after arrival, with
no new additions being made to the room during this period; (come on, do
you think ANY pet store has dozens of rooms for isolation of each pet
without introducing them to each other or cross infecting them?? Its
(2) and checked by a licensed veterinarian after the isolation period
and prior to being offered for sale.

These are all documents you should subpoena if you plan to go to
court!!! All relevant laws, regulations and statutes can be found on the
following pages, which were printed directly from:
<http://www.state.ma.us/dfa/animalhealth/petshops/faq.htm> .

Pet stores are URGED to contact the USDA at 919-716-5532 whenever they
suspect out of state conditions are inadequate (translation = if your
pet store is morally and ethically concerned about the puppies they are
pushing out the door, they will sound the alarms if even ONE sick puppy
comes into their store from out of state breeders and/or brokers. Do YOU
think this ever happens? Doubtful)

about your sick pet store pet! Go for it?

See the attached Puppy and Dog Health Protocol Guidelines for Pet shops
and Animal Shelters

To see this PDF document click to go to the website below


Other regulations include Veterinary Care: Every pet shop in MA is
required to have a licensed veterinarian available to assist them and
render medical care.

2. NOW - Ask YOUR own personal vet for a detailed physical including
fecal and urine tests, skin check and overall health check and blood
testing. Don't forget any ear infections, eye infections, missing hair
etc? The following documentation is a GUIDELINE for pet stores and their
vets and what they should do with or for sick pets. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND
you print this out and let YOUR PERSONAL VET fill it out in detail and
if you go to court you should subpoena the veterinarians records on this

See attached form: Evaluation From for New Arrivals and Dogs with Signs
of Illness

All documentation this form is also located at


3. Document what your pets medical problems are - including signs and
symptoms and when they appeared and the severity of them on a scale from
1-5 (5 being the worst)

4. Copies of ALL vet records and bills.

5. Include a letter from YOUR PERSONAL vet asking him/her for an overall
written health evaluation on your pet you can even have them use the
form above. If this puppy is coming from a pet store, chances are your
vet will be able to write a book about your pet. Ask for a VERY DETAILED
WRITTEN health evaluation and ask your vet to document everything?even
the smallest thing that might be overlooked or left out. Including poor
skin quality, crusty nose, fleas, malnutrition etc...

6. TAKE PICTURES. LOTS of pictures. Close up shots of the face and
nose?you will be able to see sickness with droopy and runny eyes, snotty
noses, thin body frame with ribs showing, don't forget the paws (do they
have infections or sores in between the pads or toes?) Gross as it
is?take pictures of the pet's stools?are the bloody and mucousy? Make
sure your vet runs multiple fecal tests? many diseases or parasites can
NOT be seen ON ONE FECAL RUN?they must run multiple samples. This could
help prove Intestinal diseases. GET DOUBLES or better yet, TRIPLES made.
That way you can send them to the AKC if you have an IMPURE PUPPY (more
details below).

7. Document phone calls made to the pet store and WHOM you talked to
(first and last name with their title - owner, manager, assistant mgr.)
and the outcome of your conversation.

8. Document YOUR vets diagnosis and costs associated with all treatments
and future health concerns, treatments, or medications.

9. Record all calls, letters, emails and faxes to of the organizations
listed below when you file formal complaints and document the outcome of
each as well as names, phone numbers and titles at each organization.

10. Keep ALL original documentation for YOUR copies (never give them
away - its to convenient they are "misplaced" and then your out of luck)
and make multiple copies to provide to other organizations to verify
your case.

The following information will help you enormously - especially if you
are considering a court action against the pet stores. For the most
part, once you threaten a court action the pet stores will often just
give up on you and on keeping your money. But this is about a lot more
than just getting YOUR money back. This is about getting these pet
stores closed down for repeatedly selling sick pets. You are NOT the
only one who bought a sick pet. But if YOU don't speak up?who will?

1. If you purchased a pet and paid by check - call the bank and put a
STOP payment on the check IMMEDIATELY.

2. If you purchased a pet and paid by credit card - call the credit card
company immediately to dispute the charges on the card. Do NOT waste
your time talking to the Customer Service reps. Ask for the most SENIOR
person in the office and if you're not happy with his/her attitude ask
for THEIR boss. DO NOT let them discourage you from making a claim or
listen to them tell you there is NOTHING you can do. These credit card
companies are supposed to work in YOUR behalf. This means they protect
YOU. They want YOUR business. If they tell you your wasting your time?
tell them you wish to talk to the Senior Mgr. On the floor and tell them
if they don't stand behind you and your dispute, you will cancel all
your credit cards with them as will your entire family and your friends
as well. State in CLEAR terms they can understand? "This pet store sold
ME a DEFECTIVE product and misrepresented all warranties and terms of my
contract and purchase agreement (not my terms, but the CC company
understands technical words). Make sure you explain all circumstances
and be prepared to provide any and all documentation, which will include
vet records. This will include all the paperwork provided to you at
purchase, vet records, etc? The credit card company will require this!
They will normally allow the charge to appear on your statement the
month you purchased the puppy for logistical and accounting reasons and
THEY SHOULD THEN CREDIT YOUR account the following month. It is
IMPERATIVE to make them note this on your account and keep the credit
card companies up to speed with all happenings of your dispute. The more
info they have, the more likely they will credit your account. The more
calls you make and the more you ask THEM to document on your account,
the better your chances. Most pet stores WILL NOT fight you because they
know they will LOSE!

3. If you paid some by credit card and some by check - do both steps

4. Call the MA State Dept of Agriculture Animal Welfare 617-626-1795 (or
if you are from another state call your state's Dept of Animal Welfare)
and report where your puppy came from including name and address of the
pet store. Provide them detailed information about what your pet's
medical problems and illnesses are as well as your vet's findings. Be
prepared to fax them all documentation immediately. Have this
information available BEFORE YOU CALL so you can fax it as soon as you
get off the phone. Do not procrastinate, your pet's health as well as
the health and welfare of other pets at this pet store is counting on
YOU. Call often to follow up with them to find out what steps if any are
being taken against this pet store!!!

There are many detailed Codes and Regulations under the Dept. of
Agriculture in Licensing and Operation of Pet Shops, read through them
CLOSELY? your pet store may have violation any number of regulations
that you can hold them accountable for. Highlight any and all that apply
to YOUR situation even if you're NOT positive it relates and make
detailed notes next to each item. Do it now while the details are fresh
in your mind.

See attached pages: 330 CMR : Department or click or go to


you can also check out the MA Pet Shop Facts and Questions page for more
info at


5. This is very important?it is a state law at least here in MA (and is
law in other almost 25 other states)- that an animal's health be signed
off on PRIOR TO SALE. If you have a sick puppy - you need to look at :
- the vet's name and license # and/or address (or call the pet store and
get his info and you can even call the vets CLINIC and ask the
receptionist for his license number) NOW make a FORMAL COMPLAINT TO YOUR
State Dept. of Licensure / Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine.

Go to their website to complete an online complaint form



Or go to their site for more details:

The reason? This vet signed off on the health of the pet right?
Otherwise the pet couldn't be sold right? And if this vet signed off on
the pet he obviously did an overall health check right? So if he DID do
the health check, he should have all of this information documented ?
right? And on file for 4 years?. Right? But the pet is sick or deformed
or has a major health issue? so what happened?
Please keep in mind? in MA there are many statutes and regulations that
must also be followed and can be found at: earlier in this document or


these are all great references when making your complaints?

The Board protects the public by monitoring the practices of the
veterinarians it licenses to insure that they practice according to the
laws of Massachusetts and the Board's established standards and code of

Grounds for Complaints - Grounds for complaints are acts, which indicate
that the licensee is in violation of relevant provisions of
Massachusetts General Laws or regulations of the Board. The Board may
take disciplinary action for any violation of the Code of Professional
Conduct, 256 CMR 7.00, regardless of whether the act complained of
occurred in Massachusetts or in another jurisdiction. If a vet is
signing off on the health of a pet and the pet is sick, deformed, and
ill or has other medical problems?this is an obvious conflict in their
Code of Ethics and the Code of Regulations. Additionally, you may even
find that the petstore has forged or falsified documents and vet
signatures. In this case, both the vet AND that State Board will be
interested to hear about this!

Here are some facts to consider - especially if you want to go to COURT?

These are a few of the Rules and Regulations of MA State vets

5.00: Practice
5.01: Medical Records - there are 4 points to this code.
(1) A veterinarian shall maintain a medical record for each patient. The
medical record shall include the following information:
(a) Owner's name;
(b) owner's address;
(c) owner's telephone number;
(d) patient's age, if known;
(e) patient's sex;
(f) patient's weight;
(g) patient's breed or description;
(h) chief complaint of each visit;
(i) results of examinations;
(j) results of laboratory tests, if performed;
(k) radiographs, if taken;
(l) vaccination history;
(m) the type of anesthesia and, where applicable, the dosage;
(n) treatment, if performed;
(o) surgery, if performed;
(p) names and dosages of drugs and/or medications used or prescribed;
(q) any other pertinent information gathered.

NOTE: Though the pet store where you purchased the dog is/was
effectively the OWNER (as sited above) when it was checked by the vet,
if you go to court or need to get documentation about YOUR pets
health?you should subpoena these records for your case. Chances are? the
pet store NOR the vet will be able to provide this documentation due to
their poor medical records and insufficient paperwork they provide. If
you or they have incomplete records or mistakes are blatant or obvious
or the wrong documentation is/was provided this should also help
further your claim.

(2) Medical records for economic animals and groups of animals such as
sheep and fish may be maintained on a per client basis when treated as
a group.

(3) Medical records and radiographs shall be maintained and available
for a period of four years from the date of the last encounter with a

This could really help your case? the vet must keep a COPY OF ALL
MEDICAL records for 4 YEARS. That's a long time. And imagine all the
thousands of puppies that have incomplete records and documentation.

(4) Copies of medical records and radiographs shall be provided to the
owner of an animal upon the owner's request or to another attending
veterinarian upon the owner's request. A reasonable fee may be charged
for the cost of copies.

Ahhh..Another WONDERFUL opportunity! Your own personal vet SHOULD be
able to request documentation from the vet who signed off on the health
of your sick pet! Will it or could it actually work? That would be
nice?but it's doubtful. That vet who signed off on the pet's health?will
most definitely avoid YOUR vet's phone calls and/or requests! But be
aware?this is an option to explore.

And NOW we move on to some other great options?all available online at:


<http://www.state.ma.us/reg/boards/vt/cmr/25605.htm> Rules and
Regulations in MA

7.00: Code of Professional Conduct
(13) A veterinarian shall not represent conflicting interests except by
the express consent of all the parties after full disclosure of all the
facts. A conflict of interest shall include, but not be limited to,
accepting a fee from a buyer to inspect an animal for soundness and
accepting a fee from the seller. Acceptance of a fee from both the buyer
and the seller is prima facie evidence of a conflict of interest.

This is of particular interest when the pet store tries to FORCE you
into returning to THEIR vet who also signed off on the Health or your
sick puppy! When you DO return to this vet? do you think he will
actually admit this puppy is THAT sick? Probably not. If he does? he is
admitting to the pet store, the customer and to himself that he really
DID sign off on a sick puppy! This is a double-edged sword.

And then? Rules and Regulations
7.00: Code of Professional Conduct
(16) A veterinarian shall not issue a certificate of health unless
he/she shall have personal knowledge by means of actual examination and
appropriate testing of the animal that the animal meets the requirements
for the issuance of such a certificate.
This can also be tied into the Rules and Regulations of MA State vets

5.00: Practice listed above
5.01: Medical Records (1) A veterinarian shall maintain a medical record
for each patient for 4 YEARS. The medical record shall include all of
the relevant details above!
These are all great codes and regulations for you in order to provide
documentation if you go to court!

Now you need to contact?
Division of Professional Licensure for the Board of Veterinary Medicine
239 Causeway Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Phone: (617)727-3074 Fax: (617)727-2197

Let the department know about all the problems with your sick pet and
the vets name, address, phone number and/or license number and make it a
repeated point that this dog was OBVIOUSLY sick at the time of purchase.
And then fax or mail your Formal complaint form above.

6. Next you need to call your local Humane Enforcement Division. In MA
it's either the MSPCA Cruelty Division 800-628-5808 or the Boston Animal
Rescue League's specially trained State Humane Officers that work daily
to enforce the Massachusetts Animal Laws. Report concerns of animal
cruelty by calling them at 617-426-9170, X110 or emailing
jlouzan@arlboston.org. I recommend calling BOTH organizations and
document WHO you speak to, time and date and outcome. Though these
organizations can't get you your money back or close the pet stores
down. They can document sick or poorly treated pets and report to other
State Dept's that DO have this authority. The Dept of Agriculture in MA
is the division that licenses all petstores/petshops. This is the ONLY
group that has this power!!!!

7. Call the Better Business Bureau or go to their site at www.bbb.org
and make a formal complaint. Though the BBB can't always help you recoup
your losses as The BBB does not take sides in a dispute. The BBB works
to facilitate communication between the company and the consumer, to
help both sides come to a satisfactory resolution to the complaint. In
many cases, dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, may
be available to help resolve the dispute. ?

So in your case, this means they probably won't or can't really do much
because most of the pet stores won't even respond to their phone calls?
see an example below.

For a detailed listing of BBB's in your area please go online to
http://www.bbb.org/bbblookup/ <http://www.bbb.org/bbblookup/>

For Central MA

BBB of Central New England
WWW: http://www.worcester.bbb.org <http://www.worcester.bbb.org/>
Email: info@worcester.bbb.org
Phone: (508)755-2548
Fax: (508)754-4158
P.O. Box 16555
Worcester, MA 01601 -6555

BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine & Vermont
WWW: http://www.bosbbb.org <http://www.bosbbb.org/>
Email: info@bosbbb.org
Phone: (508) 652-4800
Fax: (508) 652-4820
235 West Central Street, Suite 1
Natick, MA 01760 -3767

You can also go to http://search.bbb.org/results.html
<http://search.bbb.org/results.html> to type in the pet stores name and
city and state to find their Reliability Reports. Example below?.

EXAMPLE- BBB Reliability Report -
XYZ PetStore
975 Merriam Avenue
Leominster, MA 01453
Phone Number: (978) 842-990X
Type-of-Business Classification(s): PET AND PET SUPPLY STORES

The information in this report has either been provided by the company,
or has been compiled by the Bureau from other sources.
Customer Experience- Based on BBB files, this company has an
unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to unanswered complaints. The
company failed to respond to either the consumer or the Bureau to the
complaints filed. Report as of 04/05/2002

8. Call the AKC (American Kennel Club) If your paperwork is incomplete
for registration papers, the paperwork is blank or your puppies
documentation is suspect for forgery or numbers and dates of birth are
blanked out or changed or if your puppy is sick, deformed or has
congenital defects. It is their job to investigate the paperwork and
lineage of the dog and to make sure you have been provided with accurate
information on your puppy. They will need the Sire and the Dam's
registration numbers - which should be on your paperwork provided by the
pet store. If YOU DIDN"T receive this?they (AKC) need to know about this
as well. ANY AKC papers that are BLANK or incorrectly filled out is very
important to them as well As this is a violation

Headquarters: American Kennel Club, 260 Madison Avenue, New York, NY
10016 Phone: 212-696-8200

Additionally, if you buy a puppy that LOOKS NOTHING like the breed it is
supposed to be? (i.e. Your basset hound is 4 months old and now looks
like a beagle!) you need to call the AKC and speak to the Division of
Impure Breeding. Take lots of pictures as the puppy is growing and
document everything. They will need the photos and an overview of the
situation. If they agree this puppy is "Impure" they will open a case
against the BREEDER and possible revoke his/her ability to license their
puppies as AKC registered.

9. Since you are now on the path of calling everyone involved with this
pet and how you came to acquire it. Why not now call the USDA who
licenses these breeders and brokers and let them know whats going on?
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) o Animal
Dealer Registration is where you can find out if your pet's breeder AND
broker is properly licensed. You can easily find out who your pets
breeder/broker is by looking at all your paperwork and cross-referencing
them at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/awlicreg.html
<http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/awlicreg.html> and looking up:

USDA Facility Lists

Dealers: ("A" Breeders) ("B" Dealers) to search and see if that
breeder/broker hold a USDA license.
Now you can contact the USDA and let them know all about your pets
health problems and you will have all the information to provide them
about the breeder AND broker. If you can't find the listing for your
breeder and/or broker they may very well be in business illegally!!!

The USDA MUST BE INFORMED OF THIS and you can contact them at the
numbers below.
Unit 84
4700 River Road
Riverdale, MD 20737
Telephone: (301) 734-7833 E-mail: ace@usda.gov Web page:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac <http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac>

Once you find info on both the breeder and broker, write all the info
down. From here you want to write USDA and ask them to send you copies of the inspection reports for the last 3 years on your breeder/broker. Include all the info you found in your searches. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT to get these reports especially if they have a number of violations, suspensions and/or fines. It will help you in your court case.

To request a copy of this report by email, go to:

Don't let the box about the fees discourage you. They rarely ever
actually charge a fee. The reports normally take about 2 weeks to get
back. Or email at foia-officer@aphis.usda.gov

If you want to send the request in by regular mail see the address
USDA, APHIS, LPA, FOIA4700 River Road Unit 50Riverdale, MD
20737-1232(301)734-8296 Voice(301)734-5941 Fax Below in BOLD is what you
need to write, fax or email to the USDA

I purchased a puppy from a pet shop. I would like to request a copy of
the inspection reports for the last 3 years for the following __Class A
Dealer and/or __Class B Dealer.
Please mail reports to:
Breeder: ________________________
Address: _____________________________________
License #: __-A-_______
Broker: _________________________
Address: _____________________________________
License #: __-B-_______
Pet Shop: ____________________________________
Pet Shop Address: _____________________________
Breed of Puppy: ______________
Date of Birth: ________________
Date of Purchase: _____________
Puppy Date of Birth: __________________

Note: If you cannot find where the breeder or broker of your puppy is
licensed, you NEED to file a complaint with USDA by following the
instructions below?

How to file a formal complaint with USDA

Below are two sample letters you can use to file a complaint with USDA
against illegal activity involving the sale of dogs in the United
States. Before you send a letter, be sure you document all your facts
and make sure that your puppy actually came from an unlicensed/illegal
source. You should receive a standard reply letter within two weeks that
states USDA has received your complaint and they will begin
investigating. I have never received a letter stating any action that
was taken, but usually when I call USDA I am told what (if any) action
was taken. Be sure to send your letter certified return receipt. If you
would like to send NoPuppyMills.com a copy of the letter, I will keep it
in a file in case other complaints are filed later. Your personal
information will not be released to anyone without your permission. You
can find my address at the bottom of the sample complaints below.

If you are Filing a complaint against a licensed facility:

4700 River Road Unit 84
Riverdale MD 20737 -1234

I am writing to file a formal complaint against the following licensed
dog dealers:
99-A-2222, Jane Doe, 1234 Any Street, Any Town, Any State, 23456-7890.
99-B-2222, John Doe, 4321 Any Street, Any Town, Any State, 09876-5432
My complaint is based on the following information: On or around
December 1st, 2000, Jane Doe sold a litter of Labrador Retriever puppies
to John Doe. These puppies were not eight weeks of age at the time of
sale and/or transport. Transporting puppies in commerce prior to the age
of eight weeks is prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act.
Enclosed you will find a copy of the AKC papers, health certificates and
shot records. Note the date of birth on the health certificates do not
match the date of birth on the AKC papers. I purchased two of these
puppies at: My Puppy-Your Puppy, 2222 Your Street, Your Town, Your
State, 33333, on December 13th, 2000. You will see by the AKC papers
that I received with the puppies that at the time of purchase, my two
puppies were only 7 1/2 weeks old. This leads me to believe that both
the breeder and the broker violated the Animal Welfare Act and this is
why I am filing this formal complaint.
If you need any additional information from me, please feel free to
contact me at the address and/or phone number below. I would appreciate
you keeping me apprised of the situation and letting me know the outcome
of my complaint.
**Your Name**
**Your Address**
**Your Phone**

If you are Filing a complaint against a un-licensed facility:

January 15, 2001
4700 River Road Unit 84
Riverdale MD 20737 -1234

2nd August 2006, 11:07 PM
From the Nolo.com legal website:

When a Dog Is a Lemon

The odds of getting a sick animal at a pet shop are disturbingly high. Here's what to do if it happens to you.

It was love at first sight: Those expressive brown eyes, that noble nose ... that wagging tail.

Lots of otherwise level-headed people fall head-over-heels for a puppy displayed in a pet store window. They may have gone to the mall to buy shoes, but end up taking home a considerably pricier item, a purebred puppy that costs several hundred dollars, upkeep not included.

Unfortunately, these shopping mall romances often have unhappy endings. Because after the puppy is home, the kids have given it a name and it's become part of the family, there's a very good chance the owner will discover that the dog is sick, or even dying.

The odds of getting a sick animal at a pet shop are disturbingly high. More than half the out-of-state puppies sold in California pet stores were ill or incubating a disease, according to a survey commissioned by the state legislature.

Pet stores are occasionally sued by customers or fined for selling unhealthy dogs. For example, a few years back Pet Depot agreed to pay New Jersey $7,500 in penalties and costs for selling dogs it knew were unfit for sale (among other violations).

Because problems with animals from pet shops are so common, several states now require pet stores to make detailed disclosures to buyers. They've also enacted "lemon laws" for dogs, holding pet stores financially liable for selling sick dogs.

What Sellers Must Tell Buyers

Some states require sellers to disclose facts about the dog's health, age, and history. If your state doesn't require these disclosures by law, ask for the information anyway. Be wary of any seller who can't or won't give you answers.

New Hampshire, for example, requires retail sellers to show prospective buyers, upon request, a health certificate for any dog or cat that's for sale. In California, retail sellers must fill out and give the buyer a form (provided by the state Department of Consumer Affairs) that lists, among other things, where the dog came from, if it came from a licensed dealer, its immunization record, and health information. Retailers must also conspicuously post on each cage the state in which the dog was bred.

Special State "Lemon" Laws

Because disclosure laws aren't enough to solve the problem, some states are concentrating on protecting buyers instead of policing sellers. Following the example set by lemon laws that give car buyers a procedure to get a refund or a new car if theirs turns out to be a hopeless lemon, a few states have adopted similar laws for pet buyers. Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia all have such laws.

Generally, these laws give owners who find themselves with sick pets one or more of these choices:

Return the animal for a refund, including the cost of veterinary services that were needed to determine that the animal was ill or to relieve its suffering.
Exchange the animal for another, and also get reimbursement for certain veterinary expenses.
Keep the animal and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinary costs of trying to cure the animal. The amount of reimbursement is usually limited to the purchase price of the pet.
In most states, the owner has one to two weeks to return the animal, with a certificate from a veterinarian stating that the dog has a serious disease or congenital defect that was present when the dog was sold. If the dog suffers from a congenital disorder, the owner may have up to a year to return it to the pet store.

To make sure consumers know of their rights under these laws, several states require pet stores to give buyers a written notice explaining them. In some states, the form must contain a certificate for a veterinarian to complete if the animal turns out to have a serious illness or congenital defect.

The Puppy Mill-Pet Shop Connection

Many pet store animals are sick because they come from Midwestern puppy mills -- breeding operations where crowding and neglect are the rule. Many dogs bred in puppy mills suffer from malnutrition, disease, or genetic defects. As their name implies, puppy mills churn out puppies like factories turn out auto parts. And their purpose is the same: to make money.

Why do pet stores buy animals from such places? There's a simple answer: Most reputable dog breeders refuse to sell dogs to pet shops. In fact, the code of ethics of some breeders' groups forbids it.

If you have your heart set on a purebred dog but don't want to buy from a pet store, try these alternatives:

Reputable breeders. You'll probably pay less because there's no middleman -- and you'll be able to see the conditions under which your pet was raised.

Shelters. If you don't mind that your pet doesn't have papers, check local animal shelters, both public and private. They have lots of purebreds.

Rescue groups. These groups specialize in finding good homes for dogs of certain breeds. (Some handle mixed-breed dogs as well.) They often place dogs for free, although they encourage donations to cover their expenses. A local humane society may be able to direct you to such a group, or search the Web -- lots of groups have many descriptions and beguiling photos of dogs who need names.

Remember: Purebred status alone tells you nothing about a dog's health or temperament.

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