When shopping for a puppy or kitten, it's important to purchase them from a store or dealer complying with the Pet Lemon Law, a Florida statute that imposes certain obligations on sellers and offers recourse to consumers should problems arise. Pinellas County's Justice and Consumer Services is educating residents about their rights as new pet owners.
Under Florida Statute, Chapter 828, dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old when sold or offered for sale. Animals must also have a health certificate signed by a licensed and accredited veterinarian within the past 30 days. The certificate should document all required vaccinations, tests and treatments for internal or external parasites. It needs to be delivered to the consumer at the time of sale.
The pet store or dealer is also required to provide the buyer with information on his or her rights under the law, which includes the right to return or exchange the pet. If a licensed veterinarian deems the animal unfit within 14 days of the sale, the buyer can be reimbursed for the veterinary expenses.
Puppies and kittens may look irresistible in a pet shop window, but buying on impulse isn't always a good idea. Consumers should always research the size and breed of the animal for suitability with his or her lifestyle and circumstances. Always check the health certificate to make sure it complies with the Pet Lemon Law.
If there's a problem with your pet after purchase, contact the seller first. If the seller won't resolve the problem, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Animal Industry at (850) 410-0951 or (850) 410-0900.
For information on consumer issues, call the Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services at (727) 464-6200. Visit www.pinellascounty.org for easy-to-download complaint forms or for more information about your rights as a consumer.
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