Illinois House Passes Puppy Lemon Law

Illinois has passed a Puppy Lemon Law protecting consumers against animals that die within three weeks of purchase.
Illinois has passed a Puppy Lemon Law protecting consumers against animals that die within three weeks of purchase.

The Illinois House of Representatives has approved a consumer protection plan applying to pet owners, nicknamed the Puppy Lemon Law, this measure will protect residents when they decide its time to add a new pet to the family.

Today’s vote on the piece of legislation passed with a 67-49 vote. If the changes made by the House pass through the Senate, those who purchase a pet at a pet store will be eligible for reimbursement should their new puppy or kitty turn out to be gravely ill. The original legislation passed through the Illinois Senate earlier in the month.

Reimbursements stemming from purchasing an ill pet do not simply stop at the cost of the pet itself. Those who choose to take advantage of the recently passed Illinois Puppy Lemon Law in their house, will be credited for nearly all expenses they accrued as a result of their new pet. Examples of qualifying expenses are veterinarian fees and resulting expenses, as well as a full refund or replacement of the animal.

According to the legislation itself, any animal that dies within three weeks, 21 days, of purchase would be eligible for program benefits. This certainly seems like a short time frame for a pet to die, however it almost certainly ensures that the animal would have had the illness prior to purchase, making it a ‘lemon’ of a pet.

Critics of this legislation claim that the bill is too far reaching, and that government intervention in pet purchasing is unnecessary and not practical. However Illinois is the 12th state seeking such legislation.

Certainly this is a strange piece of legislation. Making pets into a commodity is an odd way to think about the animals we all love and cherish in our homes. As an owner of three pets, two cats and a dog, I can’t imagine having the mindset that a beloved pet is a commodity like anything else you purchase. Pets are more of an addition to a family than anything else, often loving you in the same way that you love it.

Lemon laws are nothing new in the United States, protecting consumers from defunct products in many areas, most famously cars. The Federal Lemon Law, which protects consumers purchasing an automobile, was enacted in 1975. It is officially known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

The recently passed Illinois Puppy Lemon Law is the only application of a lemon law to living creatures, making it an unusual piece of legislation. Should someone be faced with the tragic situation of the death of a beloved puppy or kitty, I doubt they will be thinking about replacing it immediately with a new one as if it was nothing more than a car or appliance. However, it is a form of consumer protection, and pets can be fairly expensive purchases.

Representatives in the Illinois House of Representatives saw enough benefit in the Puppy Lemon Law to pass it on to their constituents, so there might be something to this after all. If it encourages more people to purchase a pet, or for pet stores to better treat and care for their animals, this legislation could have a positive impact on the state of Illinois.

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The Guardian Express