Pet lemon laws: Would you trade Fido in for a better model?

SchnauzerA dog breeder in Central New York has been ordered by the Attorney General's office to repay customers $30,000 in restitution. Her crime: Selling "lemons" primarily, in the form of miniature Schnauzers.

Dozens of dog owners filed claims against Rocky's Canine Connection, in Jordan, N.Y., for the thousands they spent at the vet trying to keep their new puppies alive. And now, the AG has cleared the way for them to recoup at least some of their expenses.

Few realize the state of New York has a pet lemon law. Here's how it works.

You have to buy your dog or cat from a breeder or pet store that sells more than 9 animals a year. If your animal comes down with an infectious or contagious disease within the first 14 days since you've brought it home, your breeder must pay for all vet bills. If the worst happens, and the animal dies, the breeder is responsible for either refunding your purchase price, or giving you a new pet. If they refuse, you can file a claim with the Attorney General's office.

Reputable breeders and pet stores will inform customers of the lemon law, or have signage explaining how it works. If not, make sure to ask before bringing Fluffy or Fido home.

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