There will soon be some consumer protection for pet families like Stacey Kranz, Bryan Phillips, Stephanie Essex, SheaLynn O’Donnell and Paige Russell. All of these people walked into a pet store, fell in love with and bought a puppy and ended up with a sick puppy and large vet bills shortly after bringing their new pets home. Thanks to the Puppy Lemon Law, consumers that find themselves in the same boat next year will have more recourse.
In May, Illinois lawmakers passed the Puppy Lemon Law to help other families that find themselves in the same position get more consumer protection. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill Saturday and it will go into effect January 1.
"This law ... is all about protecting our pets and protecting our families who love their pets," Quinn told supporters gathered for the ceremony at Chicago's Wiggly Field dog park. "We don't want those who are conducting these puppy mills anywhere in the United States to get away with what they're doing. That's our real mission."
On hand with the governor were plenty of dogs, many of them puppy mill survivors, and their families. Volunteers from Chicago-based advocacy group The Puppy Mill Project were also on hand for the bill’s signing.
“We get far too many calls from people that bring a dog home from a pet store only to end up with a very sick pet,” says Cari Meyers, founder of the organization. “The majority of the pets sold in pet stores come from puppy mills and this is just the beginning of our efforts to hold the stores and the puppy mills accountable.”
The Puppy Lemon Law allows pet owners to get a full refund or replacement if they buy a pet from a store and it dies within 21 days. Pet owners also could get a replacement pet or be reimbursed for the cost of veterinary care if they keep the animal and a veterinarian determines it was sick or diseased when it was sold.
The Puppy Lemon Law also requires pet stores to report any outbreak of diseases to the state Department of Agriculture and to inform customers if outbreaks of certain illnesses have occurred at their store.
Phillips and his dog Dakota where on hand at the bill signing. He’s become an activist ever since he purchased Dakota at Happiness is Pets around Christmas in 2011. His dog quickly became ill and was diagnosed with distemper. Dakota survived after months of treatment, but the other dogs that became ill at the same time either died.
“Breeding dogs in puppy mills are crammed in small cages with no exercise, socialization or vet care,” says Meyers. “The mothers are malnourished and many puppies are weaned and removed from their mother at far too young an age. It’s not a surprise that so many puppies in pet stores end up very sick so quickly. It’s a true case of buyers beware.”
Prior to the Puppy Lemon Law, the only recourse for most consumers that ended up with a sick puppy was to file a lawsuit. While the new law offers some consumer protection, The Puppy Mill Project will continue to educate consumers about the pet store and puppy mill connection.
The organization holds protests and offers education programs. The Puppy Mill Project’s ultimate goal is to ban the sale of pets in pet stores. The organization has worked with pet stores that had sold puppies to move to a humane model – offering pets for adoption instead of selling puppy mill dogs.
If you’ve purchased a sick dog from Petland or Furry Babies, contact The Puppy Mill Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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