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LegalLife Pet Law Handbook
What is The Animal Welfare Act?
The Animal Welfare Act requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. Individuals who operate facilities in these categories must provide their animals with adequate care and treatment in the areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care, and protection from extreme weather and temperatures.
What are Pet Lemon Laws?
If you have purchased a pet from a pet store, dealer, or licensed breeder and the animal is sick or problematic, you can return the pet for a refund (including any veterinary bills), exchange the pet for another or keep the pet with the seller paying the cost of curing or trying to cure the pet in states that have enacted pet lemon laws.
For states that have not enacted pet lemon laws, the Animal Welfare Act protects buyers by providing that no animal can be delivered by a dealer, pet store exhibitor or operator of an auction sale unless the animal is accompanied by a certificate issued by the veterinarian certifying that he inspected the animal no more than 10 days before delivery and that the animal appeared free of any infectious disease or physical abnormality.
What is Cruelty to Animals?
The Animal Welfare Act prevents cruelty to animals. If your pet has been injured or killed because of abusive or cruel behavior of someone else, you can sue that person in civil court under property laws and seek damages for the injury or loss of your pet.
Many states also have animal cruelty laws that carry criminal and/or civil penalties.
Can I plan for care of my pet to continue after my death?
In the event your pet outlives you, you can provide for the care of your pet through a will, trust, or other legal device. If you utilize a will, the pet will need to be "bequeathed" the trustee, in trust, with instructions on who should receive custody of your pet.
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