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How do I pursue a case for Puppy Lemon Law in California? And where do I find legal help

Oceanside, CA |

I purchased an English Bulldog puppy on November 3rd 2011 and within these past months I have paid well over the cost of the dog in vet bills. I tried to go through the pet shop since when I purchased the puppy it was stated in the contract that included in the price of the dog there was a third party insurance plan that we cover certain illness or problems. Well long story short I took the puppy to the approved hospital as per the contract and from November to early January I spent upwards of $2500 in order to try and get my dog healthy, she still isn't healthy. I tried to submit a claim with their insurance and was only offered $134 for my vet bills. My puppy is still sick to this day and has many more vet bills, what should I do next?

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Attorney answers 3


Most people don’t know about puppy lemon laws. 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. Generally these puppy lemon laws let the buyer get a refund when they return a sick puppy or at least get reimbursement for veterinary bills. Here is a list of the states that have a puppy lemon law at last date checked: in the North: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; in the South: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia; in the Mid West, Minnesota and Nebraska are the only state with a puppy lemon law. In the West, only California and Nevada have puppy lemon laws (click the link below). If your state has a puppy law, then you should have the right to either make the breeder/seller/pet store take it back and refund your money of pay the vet bill or maybe more. If you state does not have a puppy law, then your sales paperwork may control your legal rights and you should be able to use your state’s commercial and sales laws under a breach of contract theory. When you make a contract with someone, generally it is enforceable. But every state law that says that if more than a small amount of money (often as little as $500) is involved then the basic terms of the contract have to be in writing and signed. Technically, in a contract if one side does not live up to the agreement, then the other side can file a claim against them in court. At court they would have to prove there was a contract, that the other side did not do what they agreed to do (or perhaps did it wrong), and that they caused damage to occur (usually measured in money). Some states, however, require that you give the other side a notice that they breached the contract before you can file a claim against them in court. That can be as simple as a note or letter or phone call, but the more money that is involved, the more careful you should be to see that the notice is being done right. Some states also require that you give them a chance to “cure” (make it right) the breach before you can file a claim in court too. If your puppy turns out to be ill when you purchase it, then return and complain to the pep shop or store. Try to negotiate to get what you want or what you can accept. If that doesn’t work, you can contact your state attorney general’s office or the Better Business Bureau and see if they can help. There is little enforcement of these puppy lemon laws and they are generally written to let you do it yourself. 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.You need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case to find out for sure how the law works in your state. Because the law is different in each state you need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney. You can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( 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, You can also look for one here on Avvo under the Find a Lawyer tab. 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

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your state may differ and your best answer will always come from a local attorney that you meet with privately. If you need a Consumer Law attorney, click the link above to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.


Here is a link that will explain California's puppy lemon law:

The State Bar of California can give you a referral to an attorney:

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

Ronald Lee Burdge

Ronald Lee Burdge


That puppy lemon law link is perfect and just what you need to know for sure where you stand. Thanks to Laura for that and, frankly, I think she knows more about Puppy Lemon Law than anyone else. Period.


Sorry to hear about your problems. As noted, there are puppy lemon laws in CA. There are also other consumer protection laws that may be used. At a minimum, you should be able to get your out of pocket bills paid related to the illnesses. I'll assume that since you've had the pup for 7 months and spent this money on the pup, you are attached to it and want to keep it? If not, one option is indeed returning the pup to the shop.

My office handles consumer protection issues statewide. Feel free to get in touch.

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