This is about a way to get people who sell cats to be more responsible and more concerned about cat welfare. People who sell cats are usually hobby breeders (selling purebred, pedigree cats from home) and pet shop owners who sell random bred cats in the high street (shopping malls).
On the basis that pet shops are going to be around for the foreseeable future, it is good to think of ways to improve the welfare of cats sold at shops.
As far as consumer rights go, buying a cat is like buying a dishwasher or any other consumer product. The general law that pertains to transactions of this nature apply. For consumer goods, manufacturer’s guarantees are common. They may last a year or two. If a dishwasher does not work or breaks down early on the buyer usually has a right to compensation depending on the contract and the law.
However, when you buy a cat, it is difficult to apply the same rules because a cat is not a mechanical or electronic inanimate object. You’ll need a vet to certify your new cat is ill and the seller will probably say the cat was fine when she was sold. The situation will often lack clarity, which is a distinct barrier to enforcing the contract.
Achieving compensation can be tricky. Some cat sellers are very good and will help. Others, especially pet shop’s, are less likely to be helpful. They can get away with selling unhealthy animals. This encourages poor breeding standards and animal welfare.
The general consumer protection laws are inadequate for transactions concerning cats and animals, it could be argued.
This is where the current Governor of Illinois has stepped in and signed off legislation that protects consumers of cats and dogs in Illinois that are discovered to be very ill. It takes effect on Jan 1st 2014.
People who buy a cat or dog from a pet shop that dies with 21 days can get a full refund or replacement. Also veterinary care costs expended by the buyer could be reimbursed by the seller1 if the vet certifies the cat or dog was ill when bought.
That sounds horrible and it is horrible. But it does promote cat and dog welfare. This is because this law favours the buyer. The buyer is given special rights when buying a cat or dog. This will have the consequence of sellers becoming more concerned about the health of their cats and dogs in order to avoid paying compensation.
The law should filter back up the chain to the breeders who will have to raise their game. That must have been the objective. Illinois is the 21st state to introduce such a law. Good news. The next stage is to stop animals being sold at pet shops.
Ref: (1) WandTV.com – called the “puppy lemon law”
Picture (modified) by Phillip Pessar