By Colin H. Gilbert
While bringing home a new pet can often be a fun time for a family, new pet owners may sometimes find their excitement dampened as they discover unfortunate diseases or other health conditions that the pet store never warned them about. Fortunately, a new law in Illinois is trying to prevent that and to give new pet owners a recourse if it does happen. Illinois' new “Puppy Lemon Law,” which applies to cats as well as dogs, went into effect at the beginning of 2014. The law comes with two major parts, notification provisions and liability provisions. The notification provisions lay out new disclosure rules for pet shop operators and the liability provisions cover what happens in the event that the operator sells a sick pet.
The first part of the new law is proactive. It places new requirements on a pet shop operator in the case of contagious, life-threatening illnesses such as parvovirus or distemper. In the event that such an illness breaks out among the pet shop operator's animals, the operator must inform the State Veterinarian within two days. The State Veterinarian will then decide if the outbreak is severe enough to merit a quarantine of the animals. If it is, then the operator has two more business days to alert anyone who purchased a cat or dog in the last two weeks.
The new law also provides pet owners with the opportunity to sue pet shop operators in certain cases of new pets taking ill. Pet owners may sue in two situations. First, an owner may sue the pet shop operator if a veterinarian declares a pet unfit for sale due to a disease or severe parasitic infestation within 21 days of purchase, or if the pet dies of such disease within that time period. Second, an owner may sue if a veterinarian states, within one year of purchase, that the pet suffers from a congenital or hereditary disease, which requires hospitalization or non-elective surgery, or has caused the death of the pet.
In the event that the pet owner can recover from the pet store, they can choose a variety remedies.
• They may exchange the pet for a full refund.
• They may exchange the pet for another of comparable value.
• They may keep the pet and receive payment for its veterinary bills.
• And, if the pet is deceased, they may receive a full refund plus veterinary costs up to twice the pet’s purchase price.
If your family recently purchased a new pet that is now suffering from serious health issues, contact a Barrington civil litigation attorney today. We serve many areas in the Northwest suburbs including Crystal Lake, Rolling Meadows, and Des Plaines.