Are Defective Dogs Subject to a 4-Year Warranty?
Here's a case that could ruin the AKC and end pet shop puppy sales forever.
A woman who can best be described as a poorly informed consumer, is suing the "Raising Rover" pet store in Manhattan because the Brussels Griffon she bought there began whimpering and limping in pain at the age of four or five months.
Under New York's "Puppy Lemon Law" a new owner can return a dog that gets sick within 14 days, but since the dog, Umka, didn't show symptoms until months later, it's not covered.
The lawyer for Elena Zakharova, Umka's owner, argues that "Pets must be recognized as living souls, not inanimate property," and that under New York State's Uniform Commercial Code, a buyer should be able to return a dog at any time up to four years later provided it can be show to be a "defective product."
Ms. Zakharova argues that her dog's health problems, pain and suffering are due to the fact that the pet store sold her a dog with genetic abnormalities that were entirely avoidable had the pup not been bred from other dogs with defects and disabilities.
But, of course, there are dozens of dog breeds which are defined by their defects, deformities and diseases, from brachycephalic breeds like the Bulldog and Pug, to achondroplastic breeds like Dachshunds and Bassetts.
If we throw in inbreeding due to closed gene pools, and the breeding of dogs with high and known rates of dysplasia, cancer, and other diseases, you are looking at a canine consumer time bomb of the First Order.
So far, Ms. Zakharova, who purchased the pooch for $1,600, has paid $4,000 toward vet bills and is expecting to spend $4,000 more.
Will New York's court see her costs as a "stupidity tax" and the dog's misery as a "never mind," or will the court say that the distributor and producer of these dogs willfully failed to avoid predictable, known, and well-documented quality-control problems associated with breeding pedigree dogs?
The case may swing on the facts: What specific evidence does Ms. Zakarova and her lawyer have that this specific puppy was bred from other dogs with known or unknown genetic defects and disabilities?