Return the Sick Puppy in the Window

May 2, 2013

Consumers who unwittingly buy a diseased animal from a pet store could get their money back under a measure approved by the Illinois Senate. 


It's similar to someone who buys a jalopy under false pretenses. But in this case, the "lemon" isn't a car.

It's a puppy. Or a kitten.

Someone who buys a dog or cat could get a refund, exchange their pet for a new one, or seek reimbursement for veterinarians' fees.

But only if the pet came from a pet shop.  That bothers Republican Senator Dale Righter of Mattoon, as those dogs can cost $1,000.

RIGHTER: "We're going to protect the consumers who have the money to pay $1,000 for a dog as a pet, but what about all of those consumers who can't afford that, so they are getting their dog from the animal shelter?"

The measure's sponsor, Park Ridge Democrat Dan Kotowski, says shelter dogs can come from anywhere, so it's different.

KOTOWSKI: "You're not a consumer, you're someone who's made a philosophical decision to be in partnership with the animal shelter because you want the dog or cat to have a home."

The measure stems from an outbreak of "canine distemper" in a chain of Chicago pet shops last year. Animal rights activists say pet stores frequently get their dogs from commercial breeding operations known as "puppy mills," where conditions are ripe for contagious canine diseases.

- Amanda Vinicky