Lemon Law for Dogs and Cats


Under New York State law, consumers who purchase sick dogs or cats from commercial pet stores or breeders are entitled to their choice of a refund, exchange, or reimbursement of veterinary costs within 14 days of the sale or receipt of the written consumer rights notice from the seller, whichever occurs later. A 2013 amendment to this “Pet Lemon Law” added a provision for the case of hereditary/congenital deformities which adversely affect the health of the animal, in which the consumer has 180 days to receive a refund, exchange, or reimbursement for licensed veterinary services.

Types of Illness
Dogs or cats which are certified by a licensed veterinarian as "unfit for purchase" due to illness, hereditary/congenital deformities which affect the animal's health, or a contagious or infectious disease, are covered by this law. Intestinal parasites are not grounds for declaring the animal unfit for sale unless it is clinically ill due to the condition. An animal may not be found unfit for sale because of an injury sustained or an illness contracted after the consumer took possession of it.

Your Refund Rights
If the animal has been certified as "unfit for purchase," the dealer must offer the consumer:

(a) the right to return the animal and receive a refund of the purchase price including the sales tax and "reasonable" vet's costs directly related to the vet’s certification that the animal was unfit for purchase for one of the specific reasons prescribed by this law. Or:

(b) the right to return the animal and receive and exchange animal of the owner's choice of equivalent value plus the "reasonable" vet's costs as described in paragraph (a) above. Or:

(c) the right to retain the animal and receive reimbursement by the dealer for the "reasonable" amount charged by a licensed vet of the consumer's choosing for curing or attempting to cure the animal. Such reimbursement cannot exceed the purchase price of the animal. It cannot include any fee notdirectly related to the certification of the animal's unfitness for purchase.

Time Limits Prescribed By Law

  1. The consumer must have secured a certification of unfitness for purchase from the vet within 14 business days following the sale or receipt of the printed consumer rights notice which sellers are required to provide, whichever occurs later, in the case of illness or contagious or infectious disease. The time period is extended to 180 calendar days following the sale or receipt of the printed consumer rights notice, whichever occurs later, in the case of a hereditary/congenital deformity adversely affecting the animal’s health
  2. The consumer must present the vet's certification of unfitness to the dealer within 3 business days of receipt from the vet.
  3. The business must make the required refund or reimbursement no more than 10 business days after receipt of the veterinarian’s certification from the consumer.
  4. A seller may contest the consumer's demand for a refund, exchange or reimbursement by requiring the consumer to produce the animal for examination by a licensed vet designated by the dealer. After this examination, if the consumer and dealer cannot reach an agreement on one of the options in (a), (b), or (c) above within 10 business days of the dealer's receipt of the animal for examination, the consumer has the right to initiate an appropriate court action to obtain a refund, exchange and/or reimbursement.

Sellers Must Provide a Printed "Consumer Rights" Notice
The seller must provide a certified (signed) printed notice to the consumer at the time of sale. This information includes, but is not limited to, a description, including breed of the animal; the date of purchase; the name, address and telephone number of the consumer; and the amount of purchase.. This notice may be contained in a written contract, animal history certificate, or a separate document. The notice must also include any known diseases, illnesses, or hereditary/congenital conditions adversely affecting the animal’s health, which is subject to confirmation by a licensed veterinarian.

Before purchasing a pet from a pet store or dealer, check that business’ record with the BBB online at newyork.bbb.org.

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