Buying a puppy online is usually just as bad as buying one in a pet store. Online puppy sale sites advertise the offspring of “champions” and use a host of fancy terms—certified kennel, AKC registered, pedigree, health certified—and picturesque photos of tail-wagging terriers, doe-eyed Chihuahuas and every other adorable breed… but most of these dogs are puppy mill dogs. When you support these sites, you’re supporting the puppy mill industry. Learn more by clicking here and please spread the word…
IMPORTANT NOTICE – Have you purchased a sick pet from a pet store? You have a lot of help on your side. Detailed below are dozens of links and websites to help get your money back, keep your pet and report the pet store and also click on this link to find out what to do IF you did get a sick pet store puppy. It may BE possible that your pet wasn’t properly examined by a veterinarian (per state law). Read the link below…and contact the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine to make in inquiry.
JOINT POLICY STATEMENT ON PET SHOPS
Issued in Cooperation between the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Agricultural Resources
Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Stores & Puppy Mills
How to Find a GOOD Breeder – So you want to buy a purebred dog but don’t want to buy from a backyard breeder or puppy miller. Read up on how to find a quality dog and breeder. So what do you do? You want to buy a Puppy?
Okay despite all you know about pet stores and puppy mills –STOP!
Hold it right there. If you buy, other dogs die. It’s that simple. Every time somebody like you buys a puppy from a store, another puppy at an animal shelter is killed.
Why? Because so many unwanted animals wind up in shelters that 7 million are killed every year for lack of homes. Many people never think of going to the shelter—they get reeled in at the shopping mall instead.
Even worse, when you shell out hundreds for that puppy in the window, you are helping keep animal abusers in business. Most pups sold in pet shops come from breeding “farms” called “puppy mills,” where mother dogs spend their lives in small, filthy cages, producing litter after litter. A PETA investigator took a job in a Kansas puppy mill and found dogs living in rusty wire cages with no bedding, no protection from the broiling hot summer sun or the bone-chilling winter winds, and no veterinary care.
Their investigator saw dogs with crusted, oozing eyes, raging ear infections, and mange, which turns dogs’ skin into itchy, red scabs. Some dogs’ feet were small enough to fall through the wire of their cages, so they spent their lives hobbling around, trying to balance on the wire.
Saddest of all were the old mother dogs that had lived in cages all their lives. They had never taken a walk or dashed after a stick or even had a pat on the head. Some of them had gone mad from loneliness. They circled in their small cages and paced back and forth—their only way of coping with their sadness.
THOUSANDS of puppy mills across the country are just like this one. Since the laws protecting animals aren’t strong enough to help these dogs, the best way to put puppy mills out of business is to get pet stores to stop selling puppies.
So, despite all that you knew about pet stores…you still went ahead and bought that puppy… NOW that you have a sick puppy… here’s what you can do…You must understand a few simple ‘rules’ before you begin your mission. It is best if you have all of your paperwork in front of you. Grab a sheet of paper and jot down all the info as you find it.
Your puppy has been through several channels before it reaches you. Your puppy was most likely born in a Midwest kennel (usually Missouri—abbreviated ‘MO’). When your puppy was 8 weeks old (as he/she should be per FEDERAL LAW), the commercial breeder (A commercial breeder is a USDA licensed breeder, also referred to as a Class ‘A’ Dealer. A dog breeder is licensed by USDA when they sell their puppies through wholesale channels, such as brokers and pet shops (Breeders who sell ONLY to the public i.e. online websites – do not have to be licensed by USDA.) sold the puppy to a broker (A broker is the middleman in the dog industry. He is licensed by USDA as a Class ‘B’ Dealer. He purchased puppies in bulk from commercial breeders and resells and ships them to pet shops.) The broker then held the puppy for several days and then transported to the pet shop where you purchased it. Commercial breeders and brokers are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), however pet shops are not (pet shops are licensed by each state/s Dept. of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Health. USDA licenses and inspects over 11,000 facilities in the United States, however it is estimated there is DOUBLE that number of ILLEGAL and UNLICENSED / UNREGISTERED kennels. You need to look at all of your paperwork and find both the breeder and the broker. The breeder can normally be found on the pet shop records (or registration papers, if you have them yet).
The first key to recouping money for sick pets is to DOCUMENT everything from the minute you buy this pet. That means keeping a diary of daily events … hour by hour if possible. This includes but is NOT limited to:
First and foremost plan to send any documentation REGISTERED MAIL with a return receipt!!! This means to EVERYONE. That way you will always have proof your documents arrived and who they were signed by if any questions or doubts arise!!! A couple extra dollars for mailing this information is more important that you know.
1. Review all your paperwork. Specifically you are looking for a document that states:
XXX THIS PET IS FIT FOR SALE or something similar
XXX THIS PET IS NOT SALEABLE or UNFIT FOR SALE.
ONE of these boxes MUST be checked. If a check mark falls in the NOT SALEABLE category and you BOUGHT this pet…you have the best case for re-cooping your money, vet bills and all other costs associated with this pet. There you have in your hands DOCUMENTATION IN WRITING that this pet is either: unhealthy, deformed, sick, or such a poor quality animal that no one should be ALLOWED TO SELL HIM/HER!!! You would be surprised how many pet stores sell pets that are UNFIT FOR SALE. With this information you SHOULD have an automatic case for a refund and you could possibly recover money for vet costs and potential bills depending on your circumstances.
Also… if your vet suspects your puppy isn’t AT LEAST 8 weeks of age, or the documentation provided by the pet store has been altered in any way, scratched out or whited out and changed… the pet store has violated a FEDERAL law called the USDA Animal Welfare Act.
NOTE: Any person shipping dogs into Massachusetts from another state must comply with 330 CMR 3.00 and the USDA’s Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. Chapter 54, Section 2131 et seq. Puppies must be at least 8 weeks of age at the time of shipment. An official certificate of veterinary inspection (OCVI) or health certificate from the state of origin must accompany each puppy or dog. Each puppy or dog must be identified with collar identification numbers that correspond to the health certificate and shipping documents.
1. Massachusetts pet shop regulations require that all pet shop puppies must be:
(1) isolated for a minimum of 48 hours by the clock after arrival, with no new additions being made to the room during this period; (come on, do you think ANY pet store has dozens of rooms for isolation of each pet without introducing them to each other or cross infecting them?? It’s doubtful.)
(2) and checked by a licensed veterinarian after the isolation period and prior to being offered for sale.
These are all documents you should subpoena if you plan to go to court!!! All relevant laws, regulations and statutes can be found on the following pages, which are found at: http://www.mass.gov/agr/animalhealth/petshops/faq.htm
Pet stores are URGED to contact the USDA at 919-716-5532 whenever they suspect out of state conditions are inadequate (translation = if your pet store is morally and ethically concerned about the puppies they are pushing out the door, they will sound the alarms if even ONE sick puppy comes into their store from out of state breeders and/or brokers. Do YOU think this ever happens? Doubtful)
SO HERE IS YOUR INVITATION TO LET THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES KNOW about your sick pet store pet! Go for it…contact them
In Massachusetts the pet store regulations and laws can be found by clicking here
Other regulations include Veterinary Care: Every pet shop in MA is required to have a licensed veterinarian available to assist them and render medical care.
2. NOW – Ask YOUR own personal vet for a detailed physical including fecal and urine tests, skin check and overall health check and blood testing. Don’t forget any ear infections, eye infections, missing hair etc… The following documentation is a GUIDELINE for pet stores and their vets and what they should do with or for sick pets. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED you print out page 6 and 7 and let YOUR PERSONAL VET fill it out in detail and if you go to court you should subpoena the veterinarian’s records on this SAME PUPPY from the pet store.
3. Document what your pets medical problems are – including signs and symptoms and when they appeared and the severity of them on a scale from 1-5 (5 being the worst)
4. Obtain copies of ALL vet records and bills.
5. Include a letter from YOUR PERSONAL vet asking him/her for an overall written health evaluation on your pet you can even have them use the form above. If this puppy is coming from a pet store, chances are your vet will be able to write a book about your pet. Ask your vet for a VERY DETAILED WRITTEN health evaluation and to document everything…even the smallest thing that might be overlooked or left out. Including poor skin quality, crusty nose, fleas, malnutrition etc…
6. TAKE PICTURES. LOTS of pictures. Close up shots of the face and nose…you will be able to see sickness with droopy and runny eyes, snotty noses, thin body frame with ribs showing, don’t forget the paws (do they have infections or sores in between the pads or toes?) Gross as it is…take pictures of the pet’s stools…are the bloody and mucousy? Make sure your vet runs multiple fecal tests… many diseases or parasites can NOT be seen ON ONE FECAL RUN…they must run multiple samples. This could help prove Intestinal diseases. GET DOUBLES or better yet, TRIPLES made. That way you can send them to the AKC if you have an “IMPURE PUPPY” (more details below).
7. Document phone calls made to the pet store and WHOM you talked to (first and last name with their title – owner, manager, assistant mgr.) and the outcome of your conversation.
8. Document YOUR vets diagnosis and costs associated with all treatments and future health concerns, treatments, or medications.
9. Record all calls, letters, emails and faxes to of the organizations listed below when you file formal complaints and document the outcome of each as well as names, phone numbers and titles at each organization.
10. Keep ALL original documentation for YOUR copies (never give them away – have photocopies certified if possible) should you “misplace” this information you might be out of luck….and make multiple copies to provide to other organizations to verify your case.
The following information will help you enormously – especially if you are considering a court action against the pet stores. For the most part, once you threaten a court action the pet stores will sometimes just give up on you and on keeping your money. But this is about a lot more than just getting YOUR money back. This is about getting these pet stores closed down for repeatedly selling sick pets. You are NOT the only one who bought a sick pet. But if YOU don’t speak up…who will?
11. If you purchased a pet and paid by check – call the bank and put a STOP payment on the check IMMEDIATELY.
12. If you purchased a pet and paid by credit card – call the credit card company immediately to dispute the charges on the card. Do NOT waste your time talking to the Customer Service reps ask to speak with the Manager or most senior person working. These credit card companies are supposed to work on YOUR behalf. This means they protect YOU. They want YOUR business. If they don’t stand behind you and your dispute, inform them you will cancel all your credit cards with them as will your entire family and your friends as well. State in CLEAR terms they can understand… “This pet store sold ME a DEFECTIVE product and misrepresented all warranties and terms of my contract and purchase agreement (not our terms, but the CC company understands technical words). Make sure you explain all circumstances and be prepared to provide any and all documentation, which will include vet records. This will include all the paperwork provided to you at purchase, vet records, etc… The credit card company will require this! They will normally allow the charge to appear on your statement the month you purchased the puppy for logistical and accounting reasons and THEY SHOULD THEN CREDIT YOUR account the following month. It is IMPERATIVE to make them note this on your account and keep the credit card companies up to speed with all happenings of your dispute. The more info they have, the more likely they will credit your account. The more calls you make and the more you ask THEM to document on your account, the better your chances. Most pet stores WILL NOT fight you because they know they will LOSE!
13. If you paid some by credit card and some by check – do both steps above.
14. Call or contact the MA State Dept of Agriculture Animal Welfare 617-626-1795 (or if you are from another state call your state’s Dept of Animal Welfare) and report where your puppy came from including name and address of the pet store. Provide them detailed information about what your pet’s medical problems and illnesses are as well as your vet’s findings. Be prepared to fax them all documentation immediately. Have this information available BEFORE YOU CALL so you can fax it as soon as you get off the phone. Do not procrastinate, your pet’s health as well as the health and welfare of other pets at this pet store is counting on YOU. Call often to follow up with them to find out what steps if any are being taken against this pet store!!!
There are many detailed Codes and Regulations under the Dept. of Agriculture in Licensing and Operation of Pet Shops, read through them CLOSELY… your pet store may have violation any number of regulations that you can hold them accountable for. Highlight any and all that applies to YOUR situation even if you’re NOT positive it relates and make detailed notes next to each item. Do it now while the details are fresh in your mind.
you can also check out the MA Pet Shop Facts and Questions page for more info
15. This is very important…it is a state law at least here in MA (and is law in other almost 25 other states) – that an animal’s health be signed off on PRIOR TO SALE AND EXAMINED EVERY 7 DAYS PRIOR TO SALE. If you have a sick puppy – you need to look at:
– the vet’s name and license # and/or address who signed off on the puppy you purchased you can then click here to search for their information to see if they have any complaints on file (or call the pet store and get the vet’s info) NOW make a FORMAL COMPLAINT TO YOUR State Dept. of Licensure / Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine by filling out this form and submitting it to the Board. You can also call the DIVISION OF PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE
OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS at 617-727-7406
The reason? This vet signed off on the health of the pet right? Otherwise the pet couldn’t be sold right? And if this vet signed off on the pet he obviously did an overall health check right? So if he DID do the health check, he should have all of this information documented … right? And on file for 4 years…. Right? But the pet is sick or deformed or has a major health issue… so what happened?
These are all great references when making your complaints…
The Board protects the public by monitoring the practices of the veterinarians it licenses to insure that they practice according to the laws of Massachusetts and the Board’s established standards and code of conduct.
Grounds for Complaints – Grounds for complaints are acts, which indicate that the licensee is in violation of relevant provisions of Massachusetts General Laws or regulations of the Board. The Board may take disciplinary action for any violation of the Code of Professional Conduct, 256 CMR 7.00, regardless of whether the act complained of occurred in Massachusetts or in another jurisdiction. If a vet is signing off on the health of a pet and the pet is sick, deformed, and ill or has other medical problems…this is an obvious conflict in their Code of Ethics and the Code of Regulations. Additionally, you may even find that the pet store has forged or falsified documents and vet signatures. In this case, both the vet AND that State Board will be interested to hear about this!
Here are some facts to consider – especially if you want to go to COURT…
These are a few of the Rules and Regulations of MA State vets
5.01: Medical Records – there are 4 points to this code.
(1) A veterinarian shall maintain a medical record for each patient. The medical record shall include the following information:
(a) Owner’s name;
(b) owner’s address;
(c) owner’s telephone number;
(d) patient’s age, if known;
(e) patient’s sex;
(f) patient’s weight;
(g) patient’s breed or description;
(h) chief complaint of each visit;
(i) results of examinations;
(j) results of laboratory tests, if performed;
(k) radiographs, if taken;
(l) vaccination history;
(m) the type of anesthesia and, where applicable, the dosage;
(n) treatment, if performed;
(o) surgery, if performed;
(p) names and dosages of drugs and/or medications used or prescribed; and
(q) any other pertinent information gathered.
NOTE: Though the pet store where you purchased the dog is/was effectively the OWNER (as sited above) when it was checked by the vet, if you go to court or need to get documentation about YOUR pets health…you should subpoena these records for your case. Chances are… the pet store NOR will the vet be able to provide this documentation due to their poor medical records and insufficient paperwork they provide. If you or they have incomplete records or mistakes are blatant or obvious or the wrong documentation is/was provided this should also help further your claim.
(2) Medical records for economic animals and groups of animals such as sheep and fish may be maintained on a per client basis when treated as a group.
(3) Medical records and radiographs shall be maintained and available for a period of four years from the date of the last encounter with a patient.
This could really help your case… the vet must keep a COPY OF ALL MEDICAL records for 4 YEARS. That’s a long time. And imagine all the thousands of puppies that have incomplete records and documentation.
(4) Copies of medical records and radiographs shall be provided to the owner of an animal upon the owner’s request or to another attending veterinarian upon the owner’s request. A reasonable fee may be charged for the cost of copies.
Your own personal vet SHOULD be able to request documentation from the vet who signed off on the health of your sick pet! Will it or could it actually work? That would be nice…but it’s doubtful. That vet who signed off on the pet’s health…will most definitely avoid YOUR vet’s phone calls and/or requests! But be aware…this is an option to explore.
Rules and Regulations in MA
7.00: Code of Professional Conduct
(13) A veterinarian shall not represent conflicting interests except by the express consent of all the parties after full disclosure of all the facts. A conflict of interest shall include, but not be limited to, accepting a fee from a buyer to inspect an animal for soundness and accepting a fee from the seller. Acceptance of a fee from both the buyer and the seller is prima facie evidence of a conflict of interest.
This is of particular interest when the pet store tries to FORCE you into returning to THEIR vet who also signed off on the Health or your sick puppy! When you DO return to this vet… do you think he will actually admit this puppy is THAT sick? Probably not. If he does… he is admitting to the pet store, the customer and to himself that he really DID sign off on a sick puppy! This is a double-edged sword.
Rules and Regulations
7.00: Code of Professional Conduct
(16) A veterinarian shall not issue a certificate of health unless he/she shall have personal knowledge by means of actual examination and appropriate testing of the animal that the animal meets the requirements for the issuance of such a certificate.
This can also be tied into the Rules and Regulations of MA State vets
5.00: Practice listed above
5.01: Medical Records (1) A veterinarian shall maintain a medical record for each patient for 4 YEARS. The medical record shall include all of the relevant details above!
These are all great codes and regulations for you in order to provide documentation if you go to court!
Now you need to contact…
Division of Professional Licensure for the Board of Veterinary Medicine
239 Causeway Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Phone: (617)727-3074 Fax: (617)727-2197
Let the department know about all the problems with your sick pet and the vets name, address, phone number and/or license number and make it a repeated point that this dog was OBVIOUSLY sick at the time of purchase. And then fax or mail your Formal complaint form above.
16. Next you need to call your states local Humane Enforcement Division. In MA you want to contact BOTH the MSPCA Cruelty Division 800-628-5808 or the Boston Animal Rescue League’s specially trained State Humane Officers that work daily to enforce the Massachusetts Animal Laws. Document WHO you speak to, time and date and outcome. Though these organizations can’t get you your money back or close the pet stores down. They can document sick or poorly treated pets and report to other State Dept’s that DO have this authority. The Dept of Agriculture in MA is the division that licenses all pet stores/pet shops. This is the ONLY group that has this power!!!!
17. Contact the Better Business Bureau or go to their site at www.bbb.org and make a formal complaint. Though the BBB can’t always help you recoup your losses as The BBB does not take sides in a dispute. The BBB works to facilitate communication between the company and the consumer, to help both sides come to a satisfactory resolution to the complaint. In many cases, dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, may be available to help resolve the dispute. So in your case, this means they probably won’t or can’t really do much because most of the pet stores won’t even respond to their phone calls.
You can also go to http://search.bbb.org/results.html to type in the pet stores name and city and state to find their Reliability Reports. The information in this report has either been provided by the company, or has been compiled by the Bureau from other sources.
18. Contact the AKC (American Kennel Club) If your paperwork is incomplete for registration papers, the paperwork is blank or your puppies documentation is suspect for forgery or numbers and dates of birth are blanked out or changed or if your puppy is sick, deformed or has congenital defects. It is their job to investigate the paperwork and lineage of the dog and to make sure you have been provided with accurate information on your puppy. They will need the Sire and the Dam’s registration numbers – which should be on your paperwork provided by the pet store. If YOU DIDN”T receive this…they (AKC) need to know about this as well. ANY AKC papers that are BLANK or incorrectly filled out is very important to them as well As this is a violation. Headquarters: American Kennel Club, 260 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 Phone: 212-696-8200
Additionally, if you buy a puppy that LOOKS NOTHING like the breed it is supposed to be… (i.e. Your basset hound is 4 months old and now looks like a beagle!) you need to call the AKC and speak to the Division of Impure Breeding. Take lots of pictures as the puppy is growing and document everything. They will need the photos and an overview of the situation. If they agree this puppy is “Impure” they will open a case against the BREEDER and possible revoke his/her ability to license their puppies as AKC registered.
19. Since you are now on the path of calling everyone involved with this pet and how you came to acquire it. Why not now call the USDA who licenses these breeders and brokers and let them know what’s going on? The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) you can also find the Animal Dealer Registration to see if you’re pet’s breeder AND broker is properly licensed. You can easily find out who your pets breeder/broker is by looking at all your paperwork and cross-referencing them and looking up:
USDA Facility Lists
Dealers: (“A” Breeders) (“B” Dealers) to search and see if that breeder/broker holds a USDA license. Now you can contact the USDA and let them know all about your pet’s health problems and you will have all the information to provide them about the breeder AND broker. If you can’t find the listing for your breeder and/or broker… they may very well be in business illegally!!!
The USDA MUST BE INFORMED OF THIS…Once you find info on both the breeder and broker, write all the info down. From here you want to write USDA and ask them to send you copies of the inspection reports for the last 3 years on your breeder/broker. Include all the info you found in your searches. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT to get these reports especially if they have a number of violations, suspensions and/or fines. It will help you in your court case. To request a copy of this report under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Don’t let the box about the fees discourage you. They rarely ever actually charge a fee. The reports normally take about 2 weeks to get back. Or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to send the request in by regular mail see the address below,
USDA, APHIS, LPA, FOIA4700 River Road Unit 50Riverdale, MD 20737-1232(301)734-8296 Voice(301)734-5941 Fax Below in BOLD is what you need to write, fax or email to the USDA
I purchased a puppy from a pet shop. I would like to request a copy of the inspection reports for the last 3 years for the following __Class A Dealer and/or __Class B Dealer.
Please mail reports to:
License #: __-A-_______
License #: __-B-_______
Pet Shop: ____________________________________
Pet Shop Address: _____________________________
Breed of Puppy: ______________
Date of Birth: ________________
Date of Purchase: _____________
Puppy Date of Birth: __________________
Note: If you cannot find where the breeder or broker of your puppy is licensed, you NEED to file a complaint with USDA by following the instructions below…
How to file a formal complaint with USDA
Below are two sample letters you can use to file a complaint with USDA against illegal activity involving the sale of dogs in the United States. Before you send a letter, be sure you document all your facts and make sure that your puppy actually came from an unlicensed/illegal source. You should receive a standard reply letter within two weeks that states USDA has received your complaint and they will begin investigating. I have never received a letter stating any action that was taken, but usually when I call USDA I am told what (if any) action was taken. Be sure to send your letter certified return receipt. If you would like to send NoPuppyMills.com a copy of the letter, I will keep it in a file in case other complaints are filed later. Your personal information will not be released to anyone without your permission. You can find my address at the bottom of the sample complaints below.
If you are Filing a complaint against a licensed facility:
4700 River Road Unit 84
Riverdale MD 20737 -1234
I am writing to file a formal complaint against the following licensed dog dealers:
99-A-2222, Jane Doe, 1234 Any Street, Any Town, Any State, 23456-7890.
99-B-2222, John Doe, 4321 Any Street, Any Town, Any State, 09876-5432
My complaint is based on the following information: On or around December 1st, 2000, Jane Doe sold a litter of Labrador Retriever puppies to John Doe. These puppies were not eight weeks of age at the time of sale and/or transport. Transporting puppies in commerce prior to the age of eight weeks is prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act.
Enclosed you will find a copy of the AKC papers, health certificates and shot records. Note the date of birth on the health certificates do not match the date of birth on the AKC papers. I purchased two of these puppies at: My Puppy-Your Puppy, 2222 Your Street, Your Town, Your State, 33333, on December 13th, 2000. You will see by the AKC papers that I received with the puppies that at the time of purchase, my two puppies were only 7 1/2 weeks old. This leads me to believe that both the breeder and the broker violated the Animal Welfare Act and this is why I am filing this formal complaint.
If you need any additional information from me, please feel free to contact me at the address and/or phone number below. I would appreciate you keeping me apprised of the situation and letting me know the outcome of my complaint.
If you are Filing a complaint against a un-licensed facility:
January 15, 2001
4700 River Road Unit 84
Riverdale MD 20737 -1234
I am writing to file a formal complaint against the following unlicensed dog dealer:
99-A-2222, Jane Doe, 1234 Any Street, Any Town, Any State, 23456-7890.
My complaint is based on the following information: On or around December 1st, 2000, Jane Doe sold a litter of Labrador Retriever puppies to John Doe, a USDA licensed ‘B’ Dealer.
On December 13, 2000, I purchased two of these puppies at: My Puppy-Your Puppy, 2222 Your Street, Your Town, Your State, 33333. I later called Jane Doe to find out more about my new puppies and Ms. Doe informed me that she raises four different breeds of dogs and has about twenty-five breeding females. Because Ms. Doe has more than three intact females and sold through wholesale channels, it is my belief that she violated the Animal Welfare Act.
I have enclosed copies of my puppies’ papers, as well the sale bill from the pet shop. If you need any additional information from me, please feel free to contact me at the address and/or phone number below. I would appreciate you keeping me apprised of the situation and letting me know the outcome of my complaint.
20. Media – Contact the major TV stations (many of which have departments dealing in consumer related problems, fraud and undercover investigative reports) and ask them to do stories about pet stores and puppy mills and request they do some undercover investigations about WHY these sick puppies are allowed to be sold day after day. Don’t forget to fax, email and snail mail them to every newspaper AND TV station within 50 miles of your home and the pet store. Let them know that you purchased a sick dog, the pet store is of no help and is ignoring your calls and you are looking to the media for their help. Not to mention, you are hoping to protect other unsuspecting customers from future heartbreak. Animal related stories are a big draw for the media.
To find a listing of ALL TV Stations in your state go to http://www.yahoo.com or http://www.altavista.com and type in YOUR STATE and TV Stations. (i.e. Massachusetts TV STATIONS). Education and word of mouth go A LONG way. Tell everyone about your experiences.
21. Letters to the editor… A well written letter of your experiences or rather nightmares…is enough to make someone reading the newspaper think twice about patronizing an establishment selling sick pets. Make sure your not to emotional, state the facts, keep it short and to the point and include all details. A sample of what you MUST include in your letter is below…
Include that pet store pets coming from puppy mills and you are just now aware of this. Refer people to do their own research by checking out PUPPYMILLS on the web.
The date you bought your pet.
The store’s name, address and phone number.
The health problems of your pet.
The cost to treat or fix what medical problems your pet had (if the medical problems are not treatable STATE THAT).
If these problems are congenital and the lifelong outcome or suffering your pet will live with.
The emotional damage it did to your family.
What the pet store did OR DID NOT do to correct the problems.
And then you should include a final statement…to make others aware of your problems and ask them NOT to patronize this store or any other pet store for that matter!
22. Small claims court…DO IT. File a complaint with your local court system to make a claim or complaint against the pet store. Most likely the pet store probably won’t even show because they KNOW they are wrong and would prefer to settle out of court or not at all. Since many families won’t bother or don’t know what to do with sick puppies, they often won’t think of court! Pet stores are banking on the fact that YOU DON’T know any better and they are protected by YOUR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE!! Prove them wrong.
Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court. Known popularly as the people’s court, this informal and inexpensive forum is designed to help you settle disputes of $2,000 or less without the aid of an attorney.
An exception to the $2,000 maximum is made for property damage caused by a motor vehicle. If an action is one for which double or treble (triple) damages are permitted by law, the limit may be increased to $4,000 for double damages and $6,000 for treble (triple) damages. The law also provides for double or treble damages plus costs and attorney fees in certain landlord/tenant situations and actions brought under Chapter 93A.
If your claim is only slightly in excess of $2,000, you may still decide to sue for the $2,000 in Small Claims Court to avoid the costly and lengthy court battle in a higher court. If your claim is greatly in excess of $2,000 you may wish to retain the services of an attorney and sue in another court.
23. Class action lawsuits… network, ask your local vets if THEY have clients who bought sick dogs from this pet store and tell them you are interested in filing a class action lawsuit and then find a lawyer to represent your group. Post flyers asking people to contact you who also bought sick dogs! Take out an ad in the paper. I would recommend opening a P.O. Box or include an email address where people can reach you. DO NOT ADVERTISE your home phone or address… otherwise the pet store will KNOW who you are and where you live and might harass you!!! Plus, it will give the pet store time to plan their own strategy and you don’t want them to know your coming after them.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT….
24. Attorney General – make a formal complaint to your local A.G. In MA you need to talk to the Consumer Division, which is located in Boston.
You need to call them and tell them you purchased a sick pet from XYZ pet store and you wish to file a complaint. You are looking for the 93-A Letter I have been told by the AG’s office that they will get a local rep to mediate with the pet store to come up with a solution (i.e. reimbursement for your sick pet, maybe medical bills?) but keep in mind each case it different. I would also venture to guess that the pet store WOULDN’T show up to this mediation session!
All written complaints will stay on file and when the “powers that be” feel things are out of control with a certain pet store they will review all complaints and could go after the pet store under the Consumer Protection Statue for Unfair and Deceptive business practices
HOWEVER, if there is a trend with complaints…they may make a motion to go after the pet store for damages (in what sounds like a class action lawsuit – but they, again would not elaborate on this) and could sue for damages up to 3 TIMES the damages.
Disclosure of Facts Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 93A 940 Code of Mass. Regs. 3.05
When you buy from a merchant, you are entitled to all the key facts about the purchase before you buy. A merchant is obligated under the law to disclose any fact, the disclosure of which may have influenced the buyer not to enter into the transaction to start with. Similarly, sellers are required in advertising to disclose all material facts concerning the product or service which, if not disclosed, might directly or by implication, mislead the consumer. Private party sellers, except in car sales, do not have the same obligation to disclose material facts unless asked. Whether it is safeguarding consumer rights or getting money back for consumers who have been the victims of unfair or deceptive business conduct, The Office of the Attorney General is on the front line working for consumers across the Commonwealth.
Defective Goods Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 106 Sections 2-314, 2-316A
When you buy a product from a merchant, by state law it comes with an automatic warranty, which says that the product will function normally, for its intended purpose, for a reasonable period of time. This is an implied warranty of merchantability. If the product is defective at purchase, or becomes defective during the period of the implied warranty, both the seller and the manufacturer are responsible for making it right. Under Massachusetts law, a merchant cannot sell a product “as is.” A store’s regular return policy does not apply in the case of defective goods.
25. Picketing… get all your friends and family, contact the local shelters and humane societies… they will know TONS of animal friends who would participate! MA state laws on picketing are found here.
26. Working with your officials to get better laws passed and make sure that the laws already ON the books are being taken seriously – talk to your local officials and start trying to change the laws!
Tempting as it may be to “save” the pathetic puppies at the pet store, your dollars are what keep these losers in business. The puppy you buy today will just be replaced by another tomorrow. Instead, ask pet store managers to sell only supplies, not living animals. Let them know that you won’t be buying anything from them—even supplies—until they do. Ask them to team up with the local animal shelters and display animals that are up for adoption.
NOTE: NO REPUTABLE BREEDER would ever sell their puppies to a pet store. Reputable breeders are breeding for a better quality dog, a show dog, breeding to eliminate hereditary and genetic defects. Reputable breeders do not MAKE money by selling puppies.
Do YOU know how to Research a Newspaper Ad? The Sunday newspaper in Metropolitan areas is probably the easiest way for a breeder to sell puppies. So how do you know if the breeder is a good breeder or a bad breeder? First and foremost, VISIT THE KENNEL! As long as you do this, you can certainly be sure you aren’t buying puppies from a puppy mill…right? WRONG! When looking through ads in newspapers, be sure to search for other breeds with the same phone number. Always go to the breeder’s house and meet the sire and dam of the litter. Don’t listen to any excuses! If they show you an adult dog of the same breed, be alert and look to see if this dog is really the mother of the litter. Use your common sense! Don’t let the cute little puppies fool you. Watch for warning signs, like odd dollar amounts ($495 or $688). Watch for older puppies, like 12 weeks and up…these are usually puppies that did not sell in a pet shop. Ask for AKC papers on the spot. Brokers and wholesalers normally promise you papers in 6-8 weeks. A breeder will always have litter papers on their puppies. If papers are available, make sure the address matches the house that you are at.
WATCH OUT – Internet Puppy sales and Scams
Many commercial breeders are now using the internet to sell puppies. They get twice the money they got from brokers and the customer never sees how their dogs are kept. Any puppies that aren’t sold through the internet are brokered.
Air date: 02/10/2003
Tonight, a want ad warning. When you answer an ad for a new pet, you may think you’re heading to someone’s home to purchase an extra pup or kitten. But our hidden camera investigation found a pattern of deception and shocking conditions behind some of those ads. Tonight, Hank investigates the “Pet Profiteers”.
The Sterling Animal Shelter is adamantly opposed to patronizing or purchasing ANYTHING from pet stores that sell puppies and/or kittens and we aren’t very supportive of those stores that continue to sell the small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets. Before you even consider buying a pet from one of these stores…please educate yourself about where these animals come from, how sick they are, and the evil truth about Puppy millers. You can get more details about pet stores/ puppy mills at www.nopuppymills.com.