Can we return an animal if it was misrepresented at the time of sale?

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Can we return an animal if it was misrepresented at the time of sale?

We bought a 11 month old dog on-line 5 days ago. The woman told us that the dog was house broken, knew all verbal commands, could run free without a lease, and was good with all animals. The first few hours that we had the dog proved all the too be incorrect. The dog has gone to the bathroom in our home, does not even respond to its name in or outside of the home, and it has run away so we have to keep it on a leash and in a crate. It runs wildly around our house jumping on furniture and knocking our children down. We contacted the seller within hours and asked that to return the dog. They stated that its a good dog and we have to keep it. We have stopped payment on the checkand told them several times that we do not want it’ they misrepresented the dog. It is also very much under weight and looks like it has been neglected. They have told us that they will sue us to the full extent of the law. What can we do?

Asked on February 3, 2011 under General Practice, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If a contract or transaction--like a sale--is founded on material, or important, misrepresentations, the party to whom the misrepresentations was made typically has a right to sue for damages and/or to rescind the contract, returing what  they received and getting their money back. Whether an agreement or transaction was founded on a misrepresentation will depend on the specific facts of the case. Note that you need to consider the following: even if you believe you are in the right--and assume arguendo you are--if the seller does not and sues you, her case could at least get to court; since it's a matter of interpreting facts (what was said; to what degree does reality not match the representations; etc.), it would not be a frivolous filing. Therefore, if the other side is adamant, you may end up in litigation, so factor that potential cost (time and money in) before committing to action.


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