I Have an Animal but I Don’t Want to Keep It

This usually happens 1) when you buy / adopt an animal 2) if an animal is abandoned with you

  • I just purchased a puppy/kitten from a Pet Store, and it got sick/died. Can I do anything about it?

Yes, you are protected under the Florida “Pet Lemon Law” (Florida Statute 829.28) IF you follow all the requirements strictly as required in the Statute. This law spells out the remedies available to you, and also covers “congenital defects” (things that may not be immediately visible, but conditions the animal was born with).

Both of these scenarios are related to the animal being unfit for sale at the time of purchase. I have had many situations where the Pet Store changes their warranty to make it different from the Statute. You may go along with this, but they must CLEARLY say that you are waiving your statutory rights.

  • I just purchased a puppy/kitten privately, and it got sick / died / isn’t suitable. Can I do anything about that?

Yes, but not so easily. If it is a Pet Store, you will have a contract and a bill of sale. If it is a private sale, you should insist upon them. This will help avoid people developing temporary amnesia, and a dispute about who said (or didn’t say) what. It is also a good idea to have the animal you are going to purchase checked by your veterinarian. The suitability issue is a difficult one (although if clearly vicious, may not be so difficult), and may depend more on your relationship with the breeder. Like everything else, there are nice ones, and not so nice ones.

  • I just bought a horse, and it isn’t as they said it was. Can I do anything about it?

Yes, but there is a reason there are so many jokes about horse-traders. First of all, despite the common practice of a handshake in the horse business, GET A CONTRACT (you can always blame it on your attorney!) Secondly, despite what the seller may say, GET A PRE-PURCHASE EXAMINATION done by your choice of Veterinarian, and have him pull (but not necessarily run) a blood test. Unbelievable as it may be, the horse may be tranquilized or have pain-killers in its body.

Now you are protected under contract law, and also in Florida under Florida Statute 535.16 regarding deceptive trade practices including the disclosure of known medical conditions.

On a practical note, however, you have to be prepared to enforce your rights, or otherwise let the “bad guy” get away with it.

  • I just adopted a dog from an animal shelter / rescue society, and he bit someone – are they liable?

Usually not, unless they knew about the dog being vicious, and didn’t tell you. In most cases their adoption contracts are so watertight that they will have no liability.

  • This animal just showed up in my yard / paddock. Now what can I do?

First check and see if there is any indication of ownership – it might just be lost. Most vets / shelters will scan dogs for a microchip either free or at minimal charge. There may be a rabies tag. Some horses have tattoos. There may be “lost dog / cat” signs around. If there is an owner out there, they may just be looking – so file a police report.

It is also a good idea to alert local veterinarians, shelters, and rescue societies.

If nothing happens within a reasonable period of time, you can do what you might not want to do – turn the animal in for euthanasia at the local shelter, but keep a record of what you have done.

Alternatively, of course, you can be the person the animal “adopted” and proceed as if it is yours. Hopefully the original owner will not surface in the future and cause a problem.