California Puppy Lemon Law

By: Richard Romando

The California Puppy Lemon Law, despite the rather specific name, is not limited to small dogs alone. It covers cats as well as dogs, and there are no age-related parameters. The California Puppy Lemon Law basically pertains to the California Health and Safety Code. It specifically concerns itself with a cat or dog's health at the time of purchase.

In essence, California Codes Health And Safety Code Section 122125-122220 defines the term 'pet dealer' of cats and dogs. Section 122125 states that this is a person who sells animals on a retail basis. It also states that a dealer requires an official permit for such a business. Further sections define that a 'purchaser' is any person who buys a pet from a dealer without intending to resell it.

A dealer is required to ensure that healthy animals are kept separately from those that are sick. In other words, there should be no doubt in a purchaser's mind that the pet purchased is healthy.

The California Puppy Lemon Law further states that a seller must make a purchaser aware of the benefits of neutering and spaying pets. The purchaser must be given written material supporting this. The dealer should additionally offer incentives for such procedures.

Further, the dealer must give documentation of every animal's heritage – the name and address of the breeder or broker. The purchaser must also be given the animal's date of birth and a vaccination/immunization/surgical record. The buyer is also supposed to receive a clear statement of any disease that the animal is suffering from at the time of purchase.

Under California Puppy Lemon Law, the dealer is legally liable if:

• The dealer has failed to maintain the specified health standards.

• A licensed veterinarian states in writing that the animal fell sick within 15 days of purchase.

• A licensed veterinarian states in writing within a year of purchase that the animal has a congenital or hereditary disease that requires extensive hospitalization, and from which recovery is doubtful.

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