Dog Lemon Law
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Dog Lemon Law


The dog lemon is not a law against cruelty to animals or barking dogs, it is instead a law protecting the buyer of a dog. If you buy a dog that turns out to be sick, the dog lemon law may grant you your money back from the seller.

Each American has the right to create their own dog lemon law, so before you start demanding your money back it is important to check the rules applicable in your state, or in some cases, the state where the purchase took place. If you need help, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact a dog lemon law expert. You can for instance contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division in your state or hire a consumer protection lawyer.

In some states, the dog lemon law will only grant you the right to return a sick or deceased dog to the seller and have your money back or a replacement dog. There are however a few states where you have the right to keep the dog, have a veterinarian treat it, and still receive some form of reimbursement from the seller. Below, you can find one example of a very strict dog lemon law – the California dog lemon law. This lemon law can make the selling of unhealthy puppies a very costly business for dog breeders.

California dog lemon law

California has one of the strictest dog lemon laws in the U.S. You will however only be protected by it if you purchase your dog from a “professional breeder”. In this context, a “professional breeder” does not have to make a living out of selling dogs, it is enough to have sold, transferred or given away at least two litters during the preceding calendar year. If you purchase your dog from a hobby breeder who only raises one litter a year, you can not use the California dog lemon law to get your money back.

As with most consumer protection laws, time is an important factor in the California dog lemon law. According to the California dog lemon law, you will have 15 days to document infectious or contagious diseases and 12 months to document congenital or hereditary defects. The seller on the other hand, will have 4 months (exactly 120 days) to produce advertised registration papers. If the seller does not produce such papers, you can return your dog and receive a 100 percent refund of the purchase prise or keep your dog and receive a 75 percent refund.

If your dog suffers from hereditary defects or is diagnosed as ill, you have the right to receive a replacement dog or a refund, plus a reimbursement of your veterinary costs. The veterinary cost must however be related to certifying the dog's illness and you can never get more money than the purchase price of the dog. If the purchase price of the dog was $1,000 you can therefore get $1,000 as a refund plus $1,000 to cover testing costs. If you decide to have your dog treated by a veterinarian, you can receive a reimbursement for the cost of the treatment. You can however never receive more money than 150 percent of the purchase price of the dog.

Disclaimer: This text is meant as an introduction only and might contain errors. Always refer to a lawyer in your area to get the facts in your particular case.

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