Pet purchase protection laws

Created November 2007, last updated September 2019

There are currently 22 states that have lemon laws that provide legal recourse to people who purchase animals from pet dealers, later found to have a disease or defect. The following chart lists key provisions of these so-called "lemon laws."

The amount of time that a purchaser has to make a claim ranges anywhere from 7 to 21 days for illness and disease and 10 days to 2 years for congenital or hereditary conditions.

Common remedies include replacement of the animal, a refund of the purchase price, and/or reimbursement of veterinary expenses, generally up to the purchase price of the animal.

Note that state consumer protection and law enforcement agencies have the authority to interpret and enforce provisions of state pet purchase protection laws. If you have a question about how a state's pet purchase protection law applies to individual circumstances, please contact that state agency.

Laws Currently in Place:

STATE AMOUNT OF TIME REMEDY IS AVAILABLE REMEDIES ENFORCEMENT AGENCY CONTACT
Arizona

15 days for illness, injury or defect

60 days for congenital or hereditary conditions

(Citation: A. R. S. 44-1799.05)

1. Return for reimbursement of purchase price

2. Replacement and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed the original purchase price of the animal

3. Retain the animal and receive reimbursement for veterinary bills not to exceed the purchase price

N/A

Enforcing body:
Purchaser must file in a court of law (A. R. S. 44-1799.06)

Arkansas

10 days for illness, congenital malformation, contagious, or infectious disease

(Citation: A.C.A. § 4-97-105)

Reimbursement of veterinary expenses to treat the dog up to the purchase price of the dog

Enforcing body:
Arkansas Dept. of Health

Email:
www.healthy.arkansas.gov

Phone Number:
1-800-462-0599

California

15 days for illness or disease

1 year for congenital or hereditary defects

(Citation: West's Ann. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122070)

1. Replacement plus reimbursement for veterinary expenses related to diagnosis and treatment, up to the purchase price of the dog

2. Refund of purchase price plus reimbursement for veterinary expenses up to the purchase price of the dog

3. Reimbursement of veterinary expenses up to 150% of the purchase price of the dog

N/A

Enforcing body:

"An action may be prosecuted in the name of the people of the State of California by the district attorney for the county where the violation occurred in the appropriate court or by the city attorney in the city where the violation occurred" (West's Ann. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122095)

Connecticut

20 days for illness existing at the time of sale

6 months for congenital defects

(Citation: C.G.S.A. § 22-344b)

1. Reimbursement of the value of the actual services and medications provided to such dog or cat by a veterinarian for the treatment of such illness or congenital defect.

Reimbursement shall not exceed (I) the full purchase price of such dog or cat for any dog or cat purchased for five hundred dollars or more, and (II) five hundred dollars for any dog or cat purchased for less than five hundred dollars.

2. Replacement

3. Refund of full purchase price

Enforcing body:
Connecticut Dept. of Agriculture

Phone:
860-713-2500
860-713-2501

Delaware

20 days for illness, disease or defect

2 years for congenital or hereditary conditions

(Citation: 6 Del. C. § 4005)

1. Return and refund of purchase price plus reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed the purchase price

2. Exchange and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed the purchase price

3. Retain the animal and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed the purchase price

N/A

Enforcing agency:
None; purchasers entitled to court costs after filing action (6 Del. C. § 4006)

Florida

14 days for illness, contagious or infectious disease

1 year for congenital or hereditary defects

1 year for misrepresentation of breed, sex, or health of animal

(Citation: West's F.S.A. § 828.29)

1. Replacement plus reimbursement for veterinary expenses (directly related to examination and certification) up to the purchase price

2. Refund plus reimbursement for veterinary expenses (directly related to examination and certification) up to the purchase price

3. Reimbursement of veterinary expenses to treat the dog up to the purchase price of the dog

Enforcing agency:
Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Phone:
1-800-435-7352

​Illinois

21 days due to:

(A) illness or disease, the presence of symptoms of a contagious or infectious disease, or obvious signs of severe parasitism that are extreme enough to influence the general health of the animal, excluding fleas or ticks

(B) the dog or cat has died from a disease that existed in the dog or cat on or before the date of delivery to the customer

One year due to:

congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the health of the dog or cat or requires either hospitalization or a non-elective surgical procedure or has died of a congenital or hereditary condition. Internal or external parasites may not be considered to adversely affect the health of the dog unless the presence of the parasites makes the dog or cat clinically ill

(Citation: 225 ILCS 605/3.15)

​1. Return the dog or cat to the pet shop for a full refund of the purchase price;

2. Exchange the dog or cat for another dog or cat of comparable value chosen by the customer;

3. Retain the dog or cat and be reimbursed for reasonable veterinary fees for diagnosis and treatment of the dog or cat, not to exceed the purchase price of the dog or cat; or

4. If the dog or cat is deceased, be reimbursed for the full purchase price of the dog or cat plus reasonable veterinary fees associated with the diagnosis and treatment of the dog or cat, not to exceed 2 times the purchase price of the dog or cat.

**​Please note that this law applies to purchases from pet shops**

Enforcing agency:
Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Phone:
217-782-2172

A customer may bring suit in a court of competent jurisdiction to resolve the dispute (225 ILCS 605/3.15)

Maine

10 days for health problems existing before purchase

1 year for hereditary or congenital defects

(Citation: 7 M.R.S.A. § 4155)

If death occurs:

1. replacement

2. refund of purchase price

If the animal does not die:

1. return for full refund of purchase price

2. exchange

3. retain and reimbursement for ½ of reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed ½ of the original purchase price

Enforcing agency:
Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry

Email:
dacfatmaine [dot] gov

Phone:
(207) 287-3701
(207) 287-3846

Maryland

14 days for disease of illness adversely affecting the health of the dog

180 days for congenital or hereditary condition adversely affecting the health of the dog or that requires hospitalization or a non-elective surgical procedure

(Citation: MD Code, Business Regulation, § 19-705)

1. Return the dog for a full refund of the purchase price

2. Replacement

3. Retain the dog and be reimbursed by the retail pet store for reasonable and documented veterinary fees for diagnosis and treatment of the dog, not exceeding the purchase price of the dog.

Enforcing agency:
Maryland Attorney General-Consumer Protection Division

Phone:
(410) 528-8662

Massachusetts

14 days for disease or congenital disorder

(Citation: 330 CMR 12.05)

1. Replacement

2. Refund

Enforcing agency:
Massachusetts Division of Animal Health

Phone:
617-626-1794

Minnesota

10 days for health problem

1 year for congenital or hereditary defects or misrepresentation of breed

(Citation: M.S.A. § 325F.791)

If death occurs:

1. Replacement and reimbursement for reasonably veterinary fees up to the purchase price

2. Refund of full purchase price

If the animal does not die:

1. Replacement

2. Refund of full purchase price

3. Reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees up to the purchase price of the animal

N/A

Enforcing agency:
None; If the pet dealer does not provide the relief selected by the purchaser, the purchaser may initiate a court action (M.S.A. § 325F.791)

Nebraska

The law requires a purchaser to have the pet examined by a licensed veterinarian within 7 business days after delivery of the animal

Remedy is available for:

7 days for serious health problems that the veterinarian believes existed at the time of delivery of the pet

15 months after the date of birth of the pet for serious health problems or if the animal has died from a serious health problem that existed at the time of delivery to the purchaser

Serious health problem means a congenital or hereditary defect or contagious disease that causes severe illness or death but does not include parvovirus if the diagnosis is made after the seven-business day requirement or any other contagious disease that causes severe illness or death ten calendar days after delivery of the pet animal to the purchaser.

(Citation: Neb. Rev. St. § 54-647)

1. A refund of the full purchase price upon return of the animal to the seller

2. an exchange for a pet animal of purchaser's choice of equivalent value or

3. Reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees, not to exceed the full purchase price

If the animal does not die:

1. refund of the full purchase price or

2. a pet of the purchaser's choice of equivalent value and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees not to exceed one-half of the full purchase price of the pet animal

Enforcing agency:
Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture

Phone:
402-471-6832

A purchaser may file an action in a court of competent jurisdiction if a seller does not comply with a demand for remedy by a purchaser (Neb. Rev. St. § 54-649)

Nevada

10 days for illness, disease, terminal condition, or condition requiring immediate hospitalization or surgery

(Citation: N.R.S. 574.490)

1. Refund of purchase price

2. Exchange

3. Retain the animal and receive reimbursement in an amount not to exceed the purchase price of the pet, for expenses incurred for veterinary fees

Enforcing agency:
Nevada Attorney General-Bureau of Consumer Protection

Phone:

702-486-3132
888-434-9989

New Hampshire

14 days for disease

(Citation: N.H. Code Admin. R. Agr 1704.07)

1. Replacement within 2 business days of veterinary examination

2. Refund of full purchase price within 2 business days of veterinary examination

Enforcing agency:
New Hampshire Dept. of Justice-Office of the Attorney General

Email:
DOJ-CPBatdoj [dot] nh [dot] gov

Phone:
1-888-468-4454
1-603-271-3641

New Jersey

14 days if animal becomes sick or dies of a non-congenital condition

6 months for congenital or hereditary defects

(Citation: N.J.S.A. 56:8-95)

If death occurs:

1. Refund of purchase price of animal

2. Replacement plus the cost of veterinary fees

If the animal does not die:

1. Replacement plus the cost of veterinary fees

2. Refund of purchase price plus the cost of veterinary fees

3. Reimbursement of veterinary fees incurred and future veterinary fees to be incurred in attempting to cure the animal

Enforcing agency:
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs

Phone:
(973) 504-6200

New York

14 days for illness, contagious or infectious disease

180 days if a licensed veterinarian certifies such animal to be unfit for purchase due to a congenital malformation which adversely affects the health of the animal

(Citation: McKinney's General Business Law § 753)

1. Replacement plus the cost of veterinary fees directly related to certification that animal is unfit for purchase

2. Right to return the animal and receive an exchange animal of the consumer's choice of equivalent value and reasonable veterinary costs directly related to the veterinarian's certification that the animal is unfit for purchase

3. Reimbursement of veterinary fees for curing or attempting to cure the animal, up to the purchase price

Enforcing agency:
New York State Dept. of Agriculture & Markets

Phone:
1-800-554-4501

Oregon

15 days if the purchaser has the dog examined by a veterinarian and the examination reveals that the dog is diseased

One year if the purchaser has the dog examined by a veterinarian and the examination reveals that the dog has a congenital disorder that significantly limits the dog's quality of life.

In order to receive a remedy, the purchaser must notify the dealer within 4 days of the veterinary examination

(Citation: O.R.S. § 646A.077)

1. Refund

2. Replacement; or

3. Reimbursement of veterinary costs up to the purchase price of the animal

Enforcing agency:
Oregon Dept. of Agriculture

Phone:
503-986-4550
503-872-6600

Pennsylvania

10 days if the dog is clinically ill or dies from contagious or infectious disease or parasitic illness

30 days for congenital or hereditary defects

(Citation: 73 P.S. § 201-9.3 & 37 Pa. Code § 309.2)

1. Replacement

2. Refund of purchase price

3. Reimbursement of reasonable veterinary fees incurred in curing or attempting to cure the dog, up to the purchase price

Enforcing agency:
Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General-Public Protection Division

Phone:
1-800-441-2555

Rhode Island

20 days for illness, disease or other defect

2 years for congenital or hereditary condition

(Citation: Gen. Laws 1956, § 4-25-5)

1. Return for purchase price plus veterinary fees up to the purchase price

2. Exchange plus reimbursement of veterinary fees up to the purchase price

3. Retain the animal and receive reimbursement of veterinary fees up to the original purchase price

Enforcing agency:
Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management-Animal Health Unit

Phone:
401-222-2781

South Carolina

14 days if certified unfit for purchase due to non-congenital cause or condition

6 months for congenital or hereditary disease

(Citation: Code 1976 § 47-13-160)

If death occurs within 14 days of possession by purchaser:

1. Refund

2. Replacement plus reimbursement of veterinary fees incurred before death

If the animal does not die:

1. Replacement plus the cost of veterinary fees up to 50% of the purchase price

2. Refund plus the cost of veterinary fees up to 50% of the purchase price

3. Reimbursement of veterinary fees up to 50% of the purchase price

N/A

Enforcing agency:
None, the purchaser may initiate a civil action to recover damages (Code 1976 § 47-13-160)

Vermont

7 days for illness or contagious or infectious disease

1 year for congenital malformation or hereditary disease

(Citation: 20 V.S.A. § 3921)

1. Return with a full refund including tax and reasonable veterinary fees.

2. Return and exchange for an animal of equivalent value and reimbursement of reasonable veterinary costs

3. Reimbursement of veterinary fees related to curing or attempting to cure the animal, up to the purchase price

Enforcing agency:
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

Email:
AGR [dot] AnimalHealthatvermont [dot] gov
AGR [dot] Licensingatvermont [dot] gov

Phone:
(802) 828-2421
(802) 828-2436

Virginia

10 days for contagious or infectious disease

10 days for congenital or hereditary disease

14 days for parvovirus

(Citation: VA Code Ann. § 3.2-6514)

1. The right to return the animal or, in the case of an animal that has died, to present the veterinary certification, within three business days of certification and receive a refund of the purchase price including sales tax; or

2. The right to return the animal or, in the case of an animal that has died, to present the veterinary certification, within three business days of certification and to receive an exchange animal of equivalent value from the dealer, subject to the choice of the consumer.; or

3. In the case of an animal purchased from a pet shop or a USDA licensed dealer, the right to retain the animal and to receive the reimbursement of veterinary fees in an amount up to the purchase price of the animal, including sales tax and the cost of the veterinary certification, incurred up to the time the consumer notifies the pet dealer of the intent to keep the animal. Such notification shall occur within three business days of certification. Veterinary costs incurred by the consumer after such notification shall be the responsibility of the consumer.

Enforcing agency:
Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Phone:
804-786-3523

Source: Staff research, AVMA Division of State Advocacy
Contact: State Policy Analyst, AVMA Division of State Advocacy