Animal Protection Initiative

The New York State Office of the Attorney General's Animal Protection Initiative protects consumers from unscrupulous pet sellers, and encourages consumers to report animal cruelty to their local law enforcement agencies and/or their local SPCA.

The Initiative ensures compliance with New York State's Pet Lemon Law, which is designed to safeguard the public and to ensure the humane treatment of dogs and cats. The law requires pet dealers to guarantee the health of any dog or cat sold by a pet dealer to a consumer.

If you witness animal cruelty or believe an animal is in danger, report the matter immediately to local law enforcement and/or to your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“SPCA”) or other humane enforcement agency.  For assistance in locating your local SPCA, you can contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”)  or by calling 1 (866) 666-2279.

Protection of Consumers from Unscrupulous Pet Sellers

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, more than 50 percent of New York households include at least one pet.  In addition to the cost of purchasing pets, the average pet owner spends hundreds of dollars to care for them.  New York's Pet Lemon Law is aimed at ensuring the good health of cats and dogs sold in the State.

New York law grants consumers very specific rights when they purchase dogs and cats from pet stores.  For example, consumers have the right to know the source of the dog or cat they are considering for purchase, and the history of vet treatments.  If a consumer purchases a sick dog or cat and a veterinarian certifies the animal as unfit within 14 days of a sale, the consumer has the right to a refund, exchange, or reimbursement of veterinary costs up to the cost of the pet. 

Consumers have the right to ask questions about the breeders used by pet stores and receive accurate information in return.  For example, if a breeder is a large scale breeder – commonly referred to as a "puppy mill" – the consumer has the right to know.  The Attorney General’s Office monitors whether pet stores are being honest and following the law and brings civil or criminal prosecutions where appropriate.   

Animal Protection Resources

Information for pet dealers and pet breeders

Pet dealers and breeders must meet minimum standards of animal care according to New York law. These standards apply to housing, sanitation, feeding and watering, veterinary care, exercise, and humane euthanasia.

Animal Fighting and Animal Cruelty

Animal fighting and animal cruelty is prohibited by New York law . Those who engage in such behavior may be subject to penalties and fines. If you witness animal cruelty or believe an animal is in danger, report the matter immediately to local law enforcement and/or to your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“SPCA”) or other humane enforcement agency. For assistance in locating your local SPCA, you can contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”).

Remember to provide local law enforcement, SPCAs or humane prevention officers as much detail as possible including names, dates, addresses and photos if available

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pet Lemon Law?
NYS General Business Law 35-D, New York State's Pet Lemon Law, is designed to safeguard the public and to ensure the humane treatment of dogs and cats by requiring pet dealers to guarantee that the animals they sell to consumers are free from serious health conditions.a

Who is a Pet Dealer?
A pet dealer is a pet store or breeder who engages in the sale of more than nine dogs or cats a year for profit to the public.

When is an Animal Unfit?
The law protects consumers when a cat or dog is unfit for purchase due to illness, a congenital malformation which adversely affects the health of the animal, or the presence of symptoms of a contagious or infectious disease.

What are Dealers Required to Do?
Dealers must post a notice of consumer rights in a manner clearly visible, and at the time of sale, must also provide written notice of the same to the consumer.

What Rights Do I Have as Pet Buyer?
Consumers who purchase an unfit dog or cat may be entitled to a refund, reimbursement for veterinary expenses or a replacement animal.
To qualify for a refund or a replacement animal, a consumer must obtain a veterinary certification that the animal is unfit within fourteen business days of the purchase, and return the pet to the seller within three business days of obtaining this certification. Consumers are also entitled to reimbursement of the cost of obtaining such certification.
If the consumer chooses to try to cure the animal, he or she may receive reimbursement for the reasonable value of services rendered.

Is There a Time Limit?
A consumer must obtain a veterinarian certification within 14 business days of purchase or within 14 days of receipt of the Written Notice of Rights under the Pet Lemon Law, whichever is later.

Does the law apply to pets other than cats or dogs?
No. The Pet Lemon Law only applies to dogs and cats.

What if I witness or suspect animal cruelty?
If you witness animal cruelty or believe an animal is in danger, report the matter immediately to local law enforcement and/or to your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“SPCA”) or other humane enforcement agency. For assistance in locating your local SPCA, you can contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”) at www.aspca.org or by calling 1 (866) 666-2279.To submit a complaint call 1-800-771-7755 or submit a complaint now.