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|03-06-2009, 06:15 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Jan 2006
[News] Connecticut Bill increases fines for selling sick dogs
Bill increases fines for selling sick dogs
Bill increases fines for selling sick dogs - Norwalk News - The Hour
Posted on 03/06/2009
By JILL BODACH
Hour Staff Writer
Man's best friend is the topic of recent legislation at the State Capitol.
A group of residents, along with a state legislator and attorney, are trying to pass a law increasing the liability of pet stores that sell sick or diseased dogs. The proposed legislation expands the state's current Lemon Law to include dogs and cats.
"Right now we have better information when we walk into a store to buy an appliance than we do when we go into a pet store to buy a puppy," said Karen Rasmussen, founder of the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills. "We treat these animals like commodities, which they aren't, but if that's how we're going to treat them, then we need to have a law to protect them the same way it protects other commodities."
Senate Bill 499, proposed by state Rep. Larry Cafero, R-142, House minority leader, would require a pet store to be liable -- up to two times the cost of the puppy -- for a dog who becomes sick after purchase and requires medical treatment.
"Right now, the law only allows the pet owner to return the pet to the store for a refund, which no pet owner is actually going to do, or to be reimbursed by the store up to $200 for vet bills, which doesn't even begin to cover the cost some of these customers are incurring," said G. Kenneth Bernhard, of Cohen & Wolf, legal counsel for the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills.
Bernhard said U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows "most" of the 30 pet stores in Connecticut buy puppies from puppy mills in the Midwest or Pennsylvania that have been cited for numerous violations for "deplorable conditions."
"Right now, no one can definitively say what a 'puppy mill' is because there is no set definition," Bernhard said. "You can usually tell by the number of dogs being bred at one time. Some of these puppy mills have 60, 70, even 100 dogs."
Cafero said he decided to support the legislation after learning about the conditions of the puppy mills.
"In some cases these puppies are coming from deplorable conditions, and the consumer becomes vulnerable because they fall in love with these pets and would do anything to help them, which sometimes means spending thousands of dollars in vet bills," Cafero said.
Cafero said the legislation does not mean to accuse all breeders of being unsavory.
"There are many very legit, upstanding breeders who take great pride in breeding dogs for household pets and treat the pets with care and love until they find a home for them," Cafero said. "Unfortunately, not all of them are that way."
Rasmussen said her main goal is to educate the public.
"We want the public to be educated and the pet stores to be more transparent about where they are getting these puppies from," Rasmussen said.
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