Lemon laws aren't just for automobiles in some states. As of late 2007, 18 states had passed lemon laws to provide legal recourse to people who purchase animals from pet dealers only to discover that the animals have a disease or defect. In early 2008, several more states already had proposed similar laws.
A chart listing the key provisions of the existing pet lemon laws is now available on the AVMA Web site. States with this type of law include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
Under the various laws, the amount of time that a purchaser has to make a claim ranges from seven to 20 days for illness or injury and 10 days to two years for congenital or hereditary conditions. Common remedies include replacement of the animal, a refund of the purchase price, and reimbursement of veterinary expenses—generally up to the purchase price of the animal.
Several of the pet lemon laws require dealers to maintain records on the health and disposition of each animal at the time of sale. The laws do not address what happens to the animals that dealers replace, however.
The summary of pet lemon laws is at www.avma.org/advocacy/state/issues/ under "Animal welfare." The actual text of the law in a particular state is available by contacting Tara Madson, state policy analyst, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department; phone, (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6779; firstname.lastname@example.org.