Florida has one of the most far-reaching pet buyer protection laws in the nation. The law applies to both cats and dogs, and it requires vaccinations and examinations for animals prior to sale.
In summary, it provides that a pet dealer may not knowingly misrepresent the breed, sex, or health of any dog or cat offered for sale within the state.
The definition of a pet dealer is explicitly written to include active hobby breeders. A pet dealer is defined as anyone who sells more than 2 litters or 20 dogs per year, whichever is greater.
Consumers have 14 days to document contagious or infectious disease and a full year to document congenital or hereditary defects. There is no penalty for failure to produce advertised registration papers.
The law provides for replacement plus reimbursement for veterinary expenses related to certifying the illness, up to the price of the dog.
If a dog is proven ill or defect, consumers may demand a refund or replacement plus reimbursement of veterinary expenses up to the price of the dog.
The state's tough law makes it potentially very expensive to sell ill or defective pets in Florida. Consider the scenario where a puppy is sold for $150 and has its hips evaluated within 1 year. The x-rays could run up to $150. If they turn up definite hip dysplasia, the seller may have to provide either a refund or replacement, plus cover the $150 for the x-rays.
It is the consumer's right to receive a certificate of veterinary inspection with each dog or cat purchased from a pet dealer. Such certificate shall list all vaccines and deworming medications administered to the animal and shall state that the animal has been examined by a Florida-licensed veterinarian who certifies that, to the best of the veterinarian's knowledge, the animal was found to have been healthy at the time of the veterinary examination.
In the event that the consumer purchases the animal and finds it to have been unfit for purchase, the consumer must notify the pet dealer within 2 business days of the veterinarian's determination that the animal was unfit.
The consumer has the right to retain, return, or exchange the animal and receive reimbursement for certain related veterinary services rendered to the animal, subject to the right of the dealer to have the animal examined by another veterinarian.
The state attorney may bring an action to enjoin any violator from being a pet dealer. Violations are a first-degree misdemeanor.
County-operated or city-operated animal control agencies and registered nonprofit humane organizations are exempt from this section.