What legal documentation is required to seek reimbursement for California puppy lemon laws?

Asked almost 2 years ago - San Diego, CA

I have purchased a puppy from a dealer and had brought the puppy to the vet 2 days after purchase to find out that the puppy had Giardia in his stool, coughing and lethargy. The dealer was notified immediately, but the only reimbursement given is $70 which was for 2 medications prescribed to the puppy. We have asked for further reimbursement, but not formally, as we waited until all vet bills were obtained. Over the course of 2 months my boyfriend and I have spent over $900 in vet bills, medication, x-rays due to our puppy being diagnosed with pneumonia, and only now is the puppy getting back to a normal lifestyle. We have also had to take time off of work to take care of the puppy when he was sick as he had to be brought to urgent care to receive nebulizer treatments, etc.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Scott Richard Kaufman

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . All documentation is always best. Sounds like you've kept the docs. Not sure if the issues are just normal or should be handled under the puppy lemon law. Did you want to keep the puppy? Most folks (to my knowledge) use this law to return the pup. Do you feel you were lied to at any time by the seller?

  2. Laura Mcfarland-Taylor

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . While I agree that you can and should seek reimbursement under the California Puppy Lemon Law (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/lemon_ca.html) you might have a problem if the seller digs in his/her heels: giardia is extremely common in dogs and the seller could allege that the puppy contracted it after leaving the seller. I'm not suggesting this tactic will be successful, but you should be aware that the claim is likely to be made,

    If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.
  3. Ronald Lee Burdge

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, there can be such a thing as a “lemon” puppy and, yes, there are some lemon puppy laws in several states too. Basically, if your state has a puppy lemon law then there is a law that is intended to protect you. How much protection you may get will depend on your particular state law though. Like some of the pets, some of the laws aren’t perfect either. Lucky for you, you live in California which has several laws that can help you out. The law covers all pet dealers and it requires them to examine all dogs or cats before placing them with other dogs and cats for sale. It also requires mandatory notices to the buyer at the sale, disclosing the breeder’s name and address, birth date info, and the animal’s general medical history. For dogs, the dealer has to give you a signed statement that there is no known disease or illness or congenital or hereditary conditions affecting the dog’s present or future health, along with a Vet’s statement (dated no more than 7 days prior to the sale) that authorizes the sale of the dog and certain medical disclosures. The law also sets up minimum kennel facility standards. Best of all, the dealer is required to give you a written notice at the sale of your Puppy Lemon Law Rights. So what happens if you get a sick dog? If it happens within 15 days of the purchase, or if a congenital or hereditary condition is discovered within one year of the sale, then you get to choose between returning the dog for a full refund plus reimbursement of Vet bills (limited to the purchase price amount), or, exchanging the dog for another of equal value plus reimbursement of Vet bills (limited to the purchase price amount), or, you can keep the dog and get reimbursement of Vet bills (limited to the 150% of the purchase price amount). If the dog has died then you get a refund of the purchase price or a replacement dog of equal value and reimbursement of Vet bills up to the original purchase price amount. For any of these though, you need written proof of every expense, signed by a Vet wherever possible. You also have to notify the pet dealer within 5 days of the Vet diagnosis of the medical problem, giving the dealer the Vet’s name and phone number. You also have to return the dog to the dealer with the Vet’s written statement saying the dog is unfit for purchase due to illness, etc, at least within 5 days of the Vet’s written statement date. If the dog has died, then you have to give the Vet’s written statement to the dealer, saying the dog died from an illness that existed when you got the dog. Of course, if you caused the dog’s illness or injury, the dealer doesn’t have to do anything for you, including if you don’t follow your Vet’s advice. You also have to return the dog registration documents you have, if any. The dealer can have their own Vet exam done at their cost. If you don’t get your refund within 10 days, then you can file a claim in court and, if you do, you have the right to recover your attorney fees on top of everything else if the dealer acted in bad faith with you. Other states have puppy lemon laws too, but CA has one of the best. Regardless of that, your sales paperwork may give you legal rights too. You may have to talk to a private attorney for help or in some states you may be able to use your local small claims court process to get your money back. To find out for sure how the law works and if it has changed since this California Puppy Lemon Law research was done, go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (www.USLemonLawyers.com) and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, NACA.net). If this answer was helpful, please give a “Vote Up” review below. And be sure to indicate the best answer to your question so we can all be sure we are being helpful. Thanks for asking and Good Luck.

    This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your... more

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