|Sent on:||Thursday, September 22, 2011 6:30 PM|
S.B. 574 = Michigan Pet Lemon Law
While we have watched other stated pass puppy mill bills, we are now in the legislative game. It is strategic to start off with a consumer protection bill first, but I really didn’t have much to do with that - just great timing.
So today, Senator Beida and his acrobatic aide dazzled me with their political savy and tactics. They were able to get in a many of amendments from both sides and make it happen. The committee voted for all amendments and the new substitute bill.
[For those who live in Warren, you should send an email or call Sen. Beida with a big Thank You. This guy is all about protecting animals. He even has a staffer assigned to work on his animal bills – Megan]
I was mostly pleased with a new section on Disclosure!!! Pet Stores will need to disclose where the puppies come from! We were also able to ensure that non-profit rescues and animals shelters are not-impacted with several references of exclusion. It is not the intent of the bill (please share that with concerned rescues that are opposing this).
Thank you Dani, Liz and Deborah (Pet Fund Alliance) for testifying. There were so many great moments today, I could write a 10 page recap.
Please make sure you thank Sen. Warren (Washtenaw), Sen. Johnson (Wayne) and Sen. Rocca (Macomb) who voted YES!
YES Sen. Tory Rocca: Macomb County
N/A Sen. Rick Jones: Allegan, Barry, and Eaton Counties
N/A Sen. Joe Hune: Livingston, Shiawassee, and Southern Ingham Counties
NO Sen. Arlan Meekhof: Ottawa County
NO Sen. Phil Pavlov: Lapeer and St. Clair Counties
YES Sen. Bert Johnson: Wayne County
YES Sen. Rebekah Warren: Washtenaw County
Below is part of my testimony today. It sure is hard to represent all the families that I have spoken with over the past three years in 10 mins, but I did my best and we will continue on to the Senate now.
One more thing, you will see that we completed a Pet Store Survey this summer which paid off since we are asking for discloser. So thank you to all those individuals that posed as puppy buyers.
We can all have a virtual toast!
Members of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee,
My name is Pam Sordyl and I am here today to ask you to please vote YES on sub S.B. 574, referred to as the “Pet Lemon Law.”
My organization, Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan, has been working diligently with families who have suffered heartbreak and financial loss after purchasing puppies in Michigan over the last three years. We provide counseling and a “Sick Dog Checklist” to help them file complaints and seek some financial relief.
Unfortunately, most cases go unreported and the family assumes full responsibility for caring and paying for the animal’s expenses as they are fully invested in their new family member. Purchasers often to not trust the seller to seek proper care, therefore they do not return the animal.
Some cases eventually end up in small claims court or as lawsuits. Unfortunately, they do not always result in compensation for the purchaser. The courts place a heavy burden on the purchaser to prove that the seller was aware of the illness or defect.
S.B. 574 will hold pet sellers accountable for burdening the public with veterinary costs and emotional stress of caring for a sick pet.
We have reviewed the current bill language and have provided our position on the primary elements:
• Time Frame for Reporting Illnesses (30 days).
This would allow enough time to diagnose and attend to treatments of most contagious, infectious diseases or illnesses before attempting to work things out with the pet store. If common illnesses such as Kennel Cough, Parvo, and Distemper show symptoms within 10 days, the purchaser needs time to treat and then report.
• Maximum amounts a buyer can recover (up to the purchase price).
This is in-line with similar laws in most other states. Twelve of the eighteen other states with “Pet Lemon Laws” allow for a purchaser to recover “up to the purchase price.” Three other states allow more. If a purchaser faces veterinary bills exceeding this limit, they have the option of small claims court or a lawsuit as well.
• Provision for congenital defects in the purchased animals (90 days to report)
Improvements are needed here as heredity or congenital defects are the most costly and long-term. As written, 90 days to report a congenital defect is not even middle ground as most states with this provision allow the defect to be reported up to a year or more. Nine other states allow more than 90 days.
• Disclosure statements. (Disclosure)
Fourteen other states have disclosure statements written into their Pet Lemon Laws. Our 2011 Pet Store Survey showed 10 out of the 21 Detroit area pet stores did not provide breeder information (such as names or addresses) to potential purchasers.
o Only six stores provided some breeder names and addresses, but would not provide any Michigan breeder information.
o Five stores provided breeder information to a potential buyer for the puppy they were interested in, but only when asked and for that puppy only.
o All 21 pet stores surveyed would did not have the puppies’ parents onsite to meet and would not allow buyers to meet the puppies’ parents.
o All 21 pet stores surveyed did not have photos of the puppies’ parents or any information about their parents beyond the sire and dam name provided on their AKC registration papers, if available.
o Six pet stores surveyed did not show a required health certificate signed by a vet to potential puppy buyers. Instead, they offered to provide one upon purchase.
• Animal Protection Shelters (Add Exclusions)
We need to ensure that all animal shelters including Animal Control Shelters and non-profit rescues are not impacted. Page 4 lines 7-8 and 9-11 should have “Does not include Animal Shelter as defined” added to each section.
• Timeframes for reimbursements, refunds or exchanges (10 Business Days)
This provision ensures reimbursements are promptly taken care of.