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November 26, 2007

Pet Store Inspections on Tap

BRONSON TO DEPLOY INSPECTORS TO PET STORES DURING HOLIDAY SEASON

TALLAHASSEE-Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that his department is conducting a sweep of pet stores during the next five weeks to ensure that such establishments are complying with regulations that protect consumers in the purchase of pets.

"Purchasing a pet during the holidays can be a rewarding experience and bring great joy to a child and other family members," Bronson said. "But you want to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable dealer who knows and follows the law to avoid what sometimes can deteriorate into an unfortunate situation."

Toward that end, inspectors are visiting numerous pet stores and dealers between now and January 1 to make sure that a store or dealer is complying with Chapter 828.29 of the Florida Statutes, a law that imposes certain obligations on sellers and offers recourse to consumers in the event that problems arise.

Under the law, dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks of age when sold or offered for sale, and each animal must be accompanied by a Florida health certificate signed by a licensed and accredited veterinarian within the past 30 days documenting required vaccinations, tests and treatments for internal or external parasites.

In addition, the law requires a dealer to provide a purchaser with information on the buyer's rights under the law, which includes the right to return, exchange or receive reimbursement for veterinary expenses if an animal is deemed unfit by a licensed veterinarian within 14 days of purchase.

Aside from making sure that a dealer is complying with the law, consumers should also consider suitability when purchasing an animal, Bronson said. For example, some breeds of dogs may be less appropriate if there are infants or young children in a home. Likewise, consumers may want to think twice before purchasing a large animal if they live in a small dwelling.

Bronson offered the following tips to consumers who are considering or planning to purchase a dog or cat:

* Don't buy on impulse; research the size and breed of the animal for suitability with your lifestyle and circumstance.

* Examine the health certificate that is required to be presented upon sale for completeness and compliance with the law.

* If there is a problem with your pet after purchase, contact the seller immediately.

The department's Division of Animal Industry assists consumers, veterinarians and pet dealers in educating them about the pet law and making sure that its provisions are followed. For additional information or to file a complaint, consumers can call 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352) or (850) 410-0900.

Since the program began nearly three years ago, consumers who have sought assistance from Bronson's office for alleged violations of the law have received restitution totaling $80,000.

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This is a good idea. Lots of people go to pet stores to buy pets. I think people should buy their pets from an animal shelter. Too many needy cats and dogs.

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