The legislation, which would go into effect Oct. 1, 2012, if passed would mean many changes for pet stores.
If passed, the bill would allow dog owners to:
· Seek reimbursement of veterinary care costs up to three times the original purchase price.
· Exchange the dog for another of comparable value of the purchaser’s choice.
· Return the dog to the retail store for a full refund.
Illness would need to be confirmed by a veterinarian and presented to the pet store within 21 days, or a full year for undisclosed congenital or hereditary conditions.
Pet stores would be required to:
· Post “conspicuously on each dog’s cage” information about the dog and its source, including breed and birth date (if known) and state in which the breeder or dealer is located and its U.S. Department of Agriculture license number.
· Maintain a written record with that information, identifying markings of the dog, and medical treatments administered for each dog in the possession of the store.
· Keep records of who transported the dog, various identifier information (tag, tattoos, microchips), whether the dog is registered or able to be registered, and other information for at least one year after the sale of a dog.
· Make these records accessible to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and any prospective purchaser upon request and to any purchaser at the time of sale.
· Provide the purchaser with a statement indicated that the dog had no known disease, illness, or congenital or hereditary condition likely to affect the health of the dog; a statement identifying any such diseases or conditions; or a statement that the dog has not received a veterinary examination prior to sale.
· Post notices that dog buyers have specific rights and to provide notice of those rights at time of purchase.
· Pay claims within 10 days unless the claim is contested.
· Pay civil penalties for violating provisions of the bill of $500 for first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
Retailers would be allowed at their expense to have the dog taken to another veterinarian for exam or necropsy to contest the original veterinarian’s findings.
The legislation has been introduced in both houses of Maryland’s legislature: House Bill 131 is set for public hearing by the House Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in Annapolis; Senate Bill 317 has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.