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New Jersey's Consumer Protections for New Pet Owners

pets.jpgBuying a pet for your family is obviously a very important decision. It's every family's hope that a new pet will be a part of the family for many years to come. Luckily, if you live in New Jersey, the New Jersey Pet Purchase Protection Law makes it a lot easier to make an informed and educated decision.

With the passage of this law in 2015, New Jersey pet stores are now required to disclose information about the origins of the animals they sell. The law requires transparency immediately at the time of purchase. Store owners must now include on cage labels the name, street address, web address, and license numbers for each animal's breeder and broker. Labels must also include the date and place of each animal's birth; its age, sex, and identifying markings including any tag, tattoo, collar number, or microchip information; the date of its initial medical exam and the name and address of the vet who examined it.

More importantly, it forbids the sale of any animal bought from a breeder or broker who doesn't hold required state and federal licenses, violated certain animal welfare laws in the past 2 years, or has refused to grant inspectors access to its facilities within the past 2 years. You might be wondering what happens if the animal gets an illness or disease right before the purchase? Will the store owner update the necessary information?

The law mandates that the animal be examined by a veterinarian within five (5) days of being offered for sale and that those results be included in the animal's history and health certificate, and if the animal was examined more than 14 days before it is purchased, the pet must be re-examined within three (3) days of delivery to the consumer (unless the consumer declines the re-examination in writing). Failure to comply with these rules or the others proscribed by the law will result in civil penalties of up to $500.

If you buy a pet that becomes seriously ill or, worse, passes away, within 14 days after the date of purchase, you may be entitled for restitution, if a vet can certify that within that 14-day period, that the animal was unfit for purchase under the Pet Purchase Protection Law. If you get that certification, you can get a full refund of the price, plus sales tax, Or you can get an animal of your choice of equivalent value, plus reimbursement of veterinary fees incurred prior to the death of the animal. Finally, if you deliver the vet's certificate and the statement of charges to the pet dealer within five days of receipt, the pet dealer must record and comply with your elected remedy within ten days.

New Jersey continues to be on the "cutting edge" of laws to protect animals and their owners from abusive treatment and unscrupulous practices. Omar Bareentto is a 2016 Rutgers School of Law graduate and a former contributor to the Rutgers Business Law Review. He collaborated with me on this blog.


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