What to do if a companion animal you purchased became sick or died soon afterwards


ALDF Suggests: What to do if a companion animal you purchased became sick or died soon afterwards

If you purchased an animal from a breeder or a pet store and then discovered that the animal is sick, or if the animal has even died as a result of ill health, more general laws called Consumer Protection Acts (sometimes called Unfair (or Deceptive) Practices Acts) may apply.  Most, if not all, states have these. They generally allow consumers who have purchased a faulty item for personal or household use to sue the seller if there has been some misrepresentation in the sale.. Even though they do not specifically mention the sale of companion animals, these laws can be used if you believe that the seller has made misrepresentations about the animal, or has sold a “defective” animal, i.e., one who is sick or has congenital problems.  For more information about consumer protection laws, check out the National Consumer Law Center.

Various state laws governing the purchase of products, that are not specific to animals, may apply that protect people who purchase companion animals.  

Some states have enacted consumer protection laws that apply specifically to purchases of companion animals. These are often known as “Puppy Lemon Laws.”

If an animal you have purchased is now sick or dead, you may also find applicable information in ALDF’s information regarding Wrongful Death or Injury of an Animal.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund strongly discourages anyone from buying a companion animal from a breeder or a pet store. All too often, breeding operations, also sometimes known as puppy mills, are concerned merely with selling as many animals as possible, with little regard for their welfare.

If you have your heart set on a specific breed of companion animal, check your local animal shelters or check online for contact information of breed-specific rescue organizations. Keep in mind the tragic fact that literally millions of perfectly healthy, adoptable animals are killed every year at shelters across the states, simply for the lack of a home. Purchasing an animal from a pet store or directly from a breeder only encourages this national tragedy to continue and results in the death of healthy animals at shelters. The best way to help minimize the suffering and death of so many deserving animals is always to adopt homeless animals from local shelters and humane societies, rather than purchasing from breeders or pet stores.

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!


Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.