The Fairfax City Petland store has been cited for two misdemeanors for failing to inform customers of their rights when newly purchased animals get sick and for lax record keeping, according to city officials.
The first citation was for not including a state-mandated provision in its contracts, Animal Control Officer Joyce Holden said this week. The contracts failed to inform customers that they are entitled to a refund or exchange for animals who get sick or die within 10 days of purchase.
The provision would have been helpful to customers Kevin Mulcahy and his girlfriend Tiffany Lowe. They have been embattled in court cases with Petland since Ty, the Maltese puppy they purchased from the store, became sick within 24 hours after he was brought home. Ty died after 13 days.
A dachshund puppy named Snoopy bought from the store also died recently, from parvovirus, just 36 hours after being brought home. WJLA reported that couple was given a refund.
The second citation was for not properly keeping fully documented histories on all animals sold from the store for at least one year after being sold.
10-Day ‘Puppy Lemon Law’
Under state code, pet stores or breeders that sell an animal must inform customers that they are entitled to either a refund or exchange if the animal becomes sick or dies within 10 days of being purchased, thereby making it “unfit to be sold.”
Officer Holden said the Fairfax City Petland was not including that provision in its purchase contracts and so was cited with a class-four misdemeanor. Since being cited, Holden has verified the store is now including the provision in all its contracts, she said.
A licensed veterinarian must declare the animal sick or unfit to be sold in order for the customer to be able to compel a store or breeder to honor the code.
Officer Holden said the problem with Petland is that the store partners with Potomac Valley Pet Hospital (PVPH) for its examinations before the sale of an animal. Furthermore, customers are given one free follow-up visit to a vet after their purchase, but they must go to that same animal hospital.
PVPH gave both Snoopy and Ty “clean bills of health” before they were purchased and said they showed no signs of being sick.
“Of course, since Potomac Valley Pet Hospital is in cahoots with Petland, they’re going to want to cover themselves — and may not be willing to declare any animal they originally cleared as ‘unfit to be sold,’” Holden said.
Holden, who is part of a new task force Fairfax City Mayor Scott Silverthorne has assembled to explore options the City has for dealing with animal businesses, said the City wants to help spread the word that customers don’t have to go to PVPH.
Though Petland says a follow-up visit to PVPH is included in the purchase price of an animal, it might be in the best interest of customers to get their animals examined by another veterinarian, Holden said.
“They may have to pay out of their own pocket for it, but they should know they have the right to go to any vet if their animal gets sick,” Holden said.
Petland’s general manager, Kareem Koshok, told Patch this week that the store currently offers a 10-day health warranty, during which customers are entitled to a refund or store credit if an animal becomes sick or is found to have a parasite. He said customers are also given a three-year guarantee if a dog is found to have a hereditary or congenital condition inherited from its parents.
Koshok also said the store offers a special “lifetime program.” If a customer purchases food and vitamin supplements from the store at least every 60 days for the life of a dog purchased from them, Petland will automatically give the customer a new pet for free upon the pet’s death. That offer is good for up to one year after the pet’s death.
Store Required to Keep Full Animal Histories for One Year
Regarding the second citation, Holden said Petland has been keeping records only of immunizations, and not the full required documentation the state code requires them to keep for a minimum of one year after a sale, such as the animal's breed, sex, age, color, and birth date; the name and address of the person from whom the pet dealer purchased the animal; the breeder's name and address; the name and registration number of the animal's parents; and a full report from any veterinarian that has examined the animal.
Where a dog comes from can be important information to people who have called into question whether Petland gets its puppies from “puppy mills.”
Holden said that Petland’s management has been able to prove that it gets all its animals from USDA-licensed breeders.
However, Holden said the majority of the breeders the store deals with are in states such as Missouri and Arizona, which she said are “well known for containing a lot of puppy mills.”
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