I purchased a puppy from a breeder. He became very lethargic on our way home. He came with a health guarantee that does not cover parvovirus because the puppy is to have been properly vaccinated, by the breeder prior to purchase against the virus. We immediately began to nurse and care for this sweet suffering little puppy. We ended up in the vet ER the next morning. We were informed by the vet, that the virus was extremely advanced and we should seriously consider euthanasia. We kept in contact with the breeder the entire time, providing updates as we were told them from the vet. Starting from the time we were sure there was something wrong with the pup on our three hour drive home. We are truly heart broken even only knowing the animal for such a short period and our kids are heart broken. We had the animal for a total of 15 hours before having to make the awful choice to put him down. We have documentation from the vet stating the puppy had long been infected before we purchased him. The vet also stated to us, that there is no way a person caring for this animal didnt know something was wrong.
You should be refunded for the sale and reimbursed for the vet bills as well. You should put this demand in writing to the breeder and sue them if they do not comply. I can recommend Mr. John Ashley Bell who practices law in your state and is on this website as an attorney who is well versed in animal law issues and it might well be worth consulting with him on this matter.
Any answer provided on the AVVO website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation. You should always seek legal advice before taking any action which may affect your future rights. Your local legal aid office may well provide information or access to free legal advice and your state bar organization may provide referrals to reputable attorneys who will provide advice on a reduced cost basis.
I very much appreciate the kind recommendation of my colleague, but I need to qualify her answer based on Ohio's current law, which differs from the law in her state.
First, I agree that you should get a statement from the vet concerning the cause of the animal's death., and I also agree that you should make a written demand for reimbursement. In your demand, you should specify a specific time for the seller to respond, so that you have a clear date that you can then say that you gave the seller a chance to resolve the matter and they chose to ignore you.
Now, if you can establish that the animal was ill at the time of sale and that the illness rendered the animal unfit for its purpose as a household pet ("companion animal") you can recover the cost of the animal.
However, in order to get anything more than the cost you paid for the dog, you would have to be able to prove that the seller knew or should have known of the dog's illness. That could be based on getting records from a veterinarian that saw the animal before the sale, or it could be based on the fact that the symptoms must have been evident before the sale. If your evidence that the seller should have known because of symptoms, there would be a question about why you purchased the dog with the visible symptoms. There are very rare cases where the seller is operating such an unsanitary facility that they should have known that diseases were likely to be present, or where you can learn of other purchasers who obtained animals from this seller that were sick and complained to the seller. I have only seen a couple of cases where the conditions were so bad that the seller had to have known there would be illnesses.
Another problem with cases like this is that even if you can prove that the seller had knowledge of the illness before the sale, you will only be able to recover the purchase price plus your out-of-pocket expenses, and in my experience, that is probably not going to be a large enough amount of money to get a local attorney involved in your case. In other words, you would probably have to either do the case yourself (without a lawyer) or pay out of pocket for an attorney to take a case where you cannot get the attorney fees back from the seller and you are probably going to pay more for the attorney than you paid for the dog and the veterinarian bills.
I am not saying that you don't have a claim. I am just making sure that you understand some of the practical problems you will have to overcome. I am not located close to you, so to hire me, you would be paying an attorney fee plus about $75 per trip to cover the cost of the travel that would be involved for any hearings.
If you believe that the seller is operating an unsanitary facility, you can contact your local humane society, since they investigate mistreatment of dogs. Also, you might want to think about filing a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office, or with the local Better Business Bureau. Those offices may not be able to force the seller to refund your money or reimburse your veterinary costs, but then again, the seller may want to avoid having that kind of record with them, so they might want to offer you something to resolve the complaint. If you are going to contact the Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau, you should send your written demand first, because the complaint will be stronger if the seller has ignored or refused a demand.
I don't believe that we are allowed to include contact information in these answers, and considering the cost to get me all the way to your area, you may want to see if you can find someone local. However, if you do want to contact me directly, you can send such a message through this site, and my contact information is available on another part of the AVVO site. Also, my contact information is available through the Ohio Supreme Court or the Columbus Bar Association.
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