Are there any laws against adopting out sick animals?

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Are there any laws against adopting out sick animals?

I adopted a dog last week from a rescue that claims to be reputable. He started acting very lethargic and refused to eat or drink for a week. I became concerned and took him to the vet and was given a list with things wrong with him; my vet explained to me they were pre-existing and in no way happened in a week. I contacted the rescue and demanded that they at least help with the bill since it was their responsibility to clear him for adoption, and they refuse to even give my adoption fee back. Is there anything I can do?

Asked on September 9, 2011 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They may be guilty of fraud. There is no law against adopting out a sick animal--as long as that fact is disclosed and the person adopting chooses to adopt, in full knowledge of it.

Fraud is either the deliberate misrepresenation--or lie--about something material (important); or it can be the intentional omission of information that a reasonable buyer would normally expect to be disclosed. Since the assumption is that an animal being adopted is healthy, to omit to disclose pre-existing medical conditions could easily be fraud. If fraud were committed, it could be the basis to rescind the transaction, or give the dog back and get your money in return. Of course, if the rescue won't voluntarily do this, you would need to bring a legal action, which may or may not be economically feasible.


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