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California Lemon Laws for Dogs


shar pei with vet

Understanding California’s Pet Purchaser Protection Laws:

California has two laws that protect consumers who purchase a puppy. One law applies to breeders, while the other applies to pet dealers. However, both offer consumers similar protection.

If a dog is proven to be ill or to have hereditary defects, the buyer is entitled to one of three actions:

  1. Return the dog and receive a refund plus reimbursement for veterinary expenses related to certifying the dog's illness, up to the price of the dog including sales tax.
  2. Exchange the animal and receive reimbursement for veterinary expenses related to certifying the dog's illness, up to the price of the dog including sales tax.
  3. Keep the dog and be reimbursed for treatment costs up to 150 percent of the purchase price of the dog.

What to know about California’s Pet Purchaser Protection Laws:

Time frame: Buyers have 15 days to document contagious or infectious disease and one year to document congenital or hereditary defects. Any health problems the buyers discover must have existed before they took possession of the dog and not have been disclosed.

Definitions:

  • A breeder is a person or entity that sold, transferred or gave away part of three or more litters or 20 individual dogs in the previous 12 months. The puppies must have been bred and raised by the breeder.
  • A dealer is a person whose business involves selling pets and is required to have permits and tax documents certifying them to do so.

Documents: The law requires breeders and dealers to provide buyers with a variety of paperwork related to the dog they’re buying. Sellers who refuse to provide any of the following documents should not be considered reputable:

  • Written and signed documents stating the dog being purchased is free of diseases and defects or a list of any known ailments and veterinary records for the treatments of those problems.
  • Document outlining the laws governing the sale of dogs to purchasers. They must also provide this document to any potential customers who ask for it.
  • Advertised registration papers. If the seller fails to do so within 120 days, the buyer may return the dog for a full refund or keep the dog and receive a refund of 75 percent of the purchase price.