Pennsylvania has more than its share of puppy mills, commercial kennels that breed large numbers of dogs in unhealthy, assembly-line conditions. It also has a large number of uneducated backyard breeders who do nearly as much harm.
The state's rather half-hearted pet buyer protection laws let backyard breeders completely off the hook and don't do enough to reign in the pete stores and puppy mills that cause so much heartache for buyers and animals alike.
First off, the law applies to licensed kennels, which in Pennsylvania is defined as anyone handling more than 26 days per year.
It gives buyers 10 days to document that the dog they purchased has a contagious or infectious disease. Two weeks would be more in line with other major states.
Even worse, Pennsylvania provides only 30 days to document a congenital or hereditary defect, many of which can take six months or more to manifest themselves. The puppy mills' lobbyists obviously had state lawmakers eating out of their hand what that provision was included.
Buyers who can demonstrate illness or defect can demand a replacement animal or a full refund, excluding sales tax. Buyers may also demand reimbursement of veterinary expenses to treat the dog, up to the purchase price, excluding sales tax.
Sellers have 120 days to produce advertised registration papers. If they do not, the buyer can keep the dog and demand a refund of 50 percent of the purchase price, or return the dog for a full refund.
In addition to the refunds and reimbursements, the seller can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation.
Other requirements include:
- The seller must provide a health record for the dog at the time of sale.
- The seller must provide a health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 21 days prior to the date of sale OR a guarantee of good health issued and signed by the seller.
- To preserve your rights, you must take your newly purchased dog to a licensed veterinarian for examination within 10 days of purchase.
- Within 2 business days of a veterinarian's certification of your dog's illness, defect or death, you must notify the seller of the name, address and telephone number of the examining veterinarian. Failure to notify the seller within 2 business days will result in forfeiture of your rights.
- Refunds or reimbursements shall be made no later than 14 days after the seller receives the veterinarian certification. Veterinarian certification shall be presented to the seller not later than 5 days after you receive it.