People buying pets have been urged to brush up on their rights after a surge of complaints over the past year.
Government advice service Consumer Direct says it received more than 2700 complaints from disgruntled pet buyers last year
The majority concerned people who’d bought dogs and puppies, and common complaints included animals becoming ill or dying soon after purchase, or animals not matching their description.
One man from Essex paid £76 for two dwarf rabbits from a local pet shop, both of which died within ten days.
He complained to Consumer Direct and was subsequently able to get a full refund after claiming that the animals were not of a ‘satisfactory quality’ under the Sale of Goods Act.
Sale of Goods Act
Under the Sale of Goods Act traders must sell goods that are as described and of satisfactory quality.
If consumers discover that products do not meet these requirements they can reject them and ask for their money back providing they do so quickly.
Alternatively, they can request a repair or replacement or claim compensation.
However Consumer Direct says that many of the disgruntled pet owners were unaware of their rights under the Sale of Goods Act.
Animal Welfare Act
Carol Brady, Operations Manager from Consumer Direct said: ‘It’s extremely important that you do your homework before buying a pet to make sure that you will be able to provide the right level of care.
‘Buying an animal is clearly not the same as simply buying a product on the high street, but you do have the same statutory consumer protections. If you are in any doubt, contact Consumer Direct for further advice.’
Pet owners should also realise that since the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act in England and Wales and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act, they are now legally obliged to care for their pet by providing a proper diet, suitable living conditions and veterinary care when necessary.