It’s every kids fantasy. Skipping through a pet store, looking through the enclosure windows at adorable, wide eyed and furry little puppies. Everything about them is cute; their little yips and when their feet kick during belly rubs. They’re all so wonderful- which shall you pick?
Then it happens- your eyes meet from across the room. You walk up to this defenseless little pup staring back up at you and think to yourself, “that’s the one.” A sales associate walks up and you ask him, “how much is that doggie in the window?”
No matter what the answer is, if you fall victim to the disturbing trend of pet stores selling sick ‘puppy-mill’ bred dogs, it’s going to cost a LOT more than you think. A sick puppy can cost you hundreds or THOUSANDS in medication and veterinary bills. Not to mention the emotional turmoil you and your children go through whilst watching these precious creatures fight for their lives. The worst part is that, often times, they lose the fight due to their tender age.
Many puppies are bred by the Amish in the middle of the country, and the breeders see these puppies as livestock. Cages are often stacked, so if you are luckily enough to get one of the puppies from the top of the stack, you may get a healthy pet. But if you purchase one of the dogs that was at the bottom of that stack of cages, you can be facing kennel cough, giardia and parvo, all of which are deadly for young puppies.
So what do you do about it? Florida Statute 828.29, colloquially known as Florida’s ‘Puppy Lemon Law’ provides for several remedies. Pet stores are required to provide a 14 days warranty against illness or contagious disease, or a 1 year warranty against hereditary or congenital disorders in the puppies they sell you, and must reimburse you for veterinary costs-at the vet of your choice- up to the purchase price of the animal within that same timeframe. You also have the right to a refund of the purchase price with sales tax and any veterinary costs if the puppy was unfit for purchase at the time it was sold to you and a letter from a veterinarian is provided stating as much.
Do your research when in the market for a puppy. Read reviews, ask smart questions, and request all the records to confirm that your new pet will be a member of your family for years to come, and not just mere days. If something is wrong, tell the pet store! A reputable pet store will help you handle the medical bills and refund or replace sick puppies. Other less reputable pet dealers will threaten you, attempt to avoid liability by hiding behind unconscionable and illegal contracts or (as in a recent case I had) call the police and have you arrested for trespass!