Consumers Protected if Illness or Condition Not Disclosed Before Purchase
BALTIMORE A new state law that took effect this month establishes remedies for consumers when a dog sold at a retail pet store is found to have an undisclosed disease, illness or prior condition. It also creates certification, record keeping and public disclosure requirements for pet stores in Maryland, and sets penalties for violations of the law.
Letters have been sent to retail pet stores, defined as a for-profit public establishment that sells domestic animals to be kept as household pets, notifying them of the new provisions.
The law outlines different options for consumers who receive proof from a medical professional within a certain time frame that a dog they purchased from a retail pet store has an illness or disease or died from an illness or disease that was known but undisclosed at the time of purchase. The consumer can return the dog to the retail pet store for a full refund, exchange the dog for one of comparable value, if available, or retain the dog and be reimbursed by the retail pet store for reasonable and documented veterinary fees not exceeding the sale price of the dog.
Retail pet stores must also now keep detailed records for each canine in its possession. That includes the breed, age and birth date, if known, the gender, color and identifying markings, and a host of additional information about a dogs medical history and background. Those records must be provided to the consumer at the time of purchase and must be made available for inspection at any time upon request of any prospective buyers and the Attorney Generals Consumer Protection Division. A retail pet store must keep those records for at least one year after the date of sale.
The law requires retail pet stores to clearly post on the cage of each dog for sale its breed, age and date of birth, if known, the state in which the dogs breeder or dealer is located and the U.S. Department of Agriculture license number of the breeder or dealer. And the store must provide a health certificate from a state-licensed veterinarian, issued within 30 days before the date of purchase, stating that the dog has no known disease, illness or congenital or hereditary condition and that it does not appear to be clinically ill from parasitic infection at the time of the exam.
For more information and to read the law in its entirety, click http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/bills/hb/hb0131e.pdf. Consumers with additional questions or those who wish to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division may call 410-528-8662 or 888-743-0023.
Source: Maryland Office of the Attorney General