With heightened consumer awareness about defective products, the product scare has crossed from inanimate objects to those that are alive. Consider the Puppy Scare of 2007. You purchase a seemingly sweet puppy, one that is calling for you from a store front. The puppy has soft fur, big eyes and an unrelentingly sweet nature. How can you resist shelling out anywhere from $100 to $2,000 for this addition to your family? You buy Fido, the family quickly bonds and then—it happens. You discover there’s a defect in the merchandise. The new addition is sick or in some way not genetically fit. What’s your recourse? Well, 17 states have a law to protect consumers who purchased an animal with some, shall we say, faults. The newest states to fight the Puppy Scare are Wisconsin and Illinois. They have puppy lemon laws pending before committees, and a bill in Ohio is being revised.
But there are two sides of the issue. First, there’s concern for consumers who may get ripped off when purchasing a pet. The laws in many of these states allow buyers to get a new dog or reimbursement for their vet bills and in some cases their money back. The other side of the issue is the dog or the animal. There’s concern that the animal is being treated as if it is defective merchandise and not a living, breathing being.
In a recent USA Today report, Eileen Ribbens Rohde, executive director of the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, is quoted as being concerned about Wisconsin’s proposed legislation, saying it doesn’t address animal cruelty and neglect issues. She said lemon laws might protect consumers but not dogs.
The question arises about how the ill or returned dog is treated. Is it looked after or simply euthanized?
There’s a great need for legislation against puppy mills and for puppy lemon laws, but perhaps there should be some concern about the lack of compassion from human consumers who are more concerned about their investments and not the puppy itself.