Monday, March 15, 2010
Help Me Howard: Dead Chihuahua
Buying a cute little puppy will put a smile on any face. Watching that puppy get sick and die can be terrible. But can you get your money back if you buy a sick dog? Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser explains.
WSVN -- When Bertha Pitt retired as a school principal, she needed a hobby.
Bertha Pitt: "That's the area in Flamingo Bay where they have all the birds that sit in that particular tree."
She decided to start painting and discovered she had a hidden talent.
Bertha Pitt: "It's absolutely a blessing, and it's so relaxing."
Bertha loves painting and loves her pets.
Bertha Pitt: "I love dogs. That's my favorite. I have always had dogs."
Then, in January, she was driving down Kendall Drive at 107th when she saw a man selling dogs on the side of the road.
Bertha Pitt: "And I stopped and picked one up, and I couldn't leave without it."
Bertha gave the man $300 for a one-pound black Chihuahua. The man gave her paperwork from a nearby pet store that he said he owned.
Bertha Pitt: "And the paperwork he gave me was from a shop, and it was stamped by a vet."
Bertha named the puppy BB because it was so small. But three days later, it was very ill, needing 24 hour care. Within a few days, the vet bills had piled up.
Bertha Pitt: "And I was into one puppy, $3,000. And I live on a pension as a retired principal, so I couldn't afford to continue paying for this."
The vet gave Bertha some medication and she brought BB home.
Bertha Pitt: "But he didn't make it. At 3:00 in the morning, he died. He died in my arms."
Bertha went to the pet store owned by the man who sold her the dog. She says he told her, "Go away."
Bertha Pitt: "'I am not going to deal with you.' And he dismissed us. Told me, 'You don't like it, go find a policeman.'"
Bertha complained to the police, to the county, to the state. She bought a chihuahua, spent $3,000, but no one could help her."
Bertha Pitt: "How can you be selling a dog, and the dog is deadly ill within three days, and then you wash your hands of it?"
Well, Howard, can a pet store owner sell his puppies on the street corner, under his store's name, and walk away from it?
Howard Finkelstein: "Florida has what's called a Puppy Lemon Law that regulates sellers of dogs. The law says that if you buy an animal that turns out to have been sick when you bought it, you can get your money back, get a replacement dog, or if you keep the animal, the seller has to pay any vet bills up to the cost of the dog."
We then went to Kendall and 107th, and once again, there was Erik Canoura, the man who Bertha identified as the person who sold her the chihuahua.
We wanted to talk to Erik. When he saw us, he apparently remembered he had to be somewhere else in a hurry.
The state lists Canoura as the owner of Puppy Champion on Southwest 40th Street.
The people there told me Erik was not there.
I later spoke to him on the phone. He told me Bertha was not getting any money from him.
But Howard says that doesn't end it.
Howard Finkelstein: "The Puppy Lemon Law is not toothless, but it's not strong either. In fact, legally, the state cannot force the seller of the animal to return the buyer's money. But you can sue in small claims court and get your money, including some of the vet bills."
Bertha lost her puppy but still has her paintings, which give her so much joy. Like the one of her families home back in Cuba.
Bertha Pitt: "When I was 15, my birthday party was around that particular water fountain at home, so those were great memories of my parents."
Patrick Fraser: "Bertha is now looking for another chihuahua. If you have a spare puppy, let me know. And may sue the pet store to try to get back the money she spent on the dead chihuahua. Also, I spoke to the vet who takes care of some of the pet store's animals. He says they are usually very healthy."
A chihuahua-sized problem taking an enormous bite out of you? Don't bark up the wrong tree. Contact us. In a dog eat dog world, sometimes we are not toothless.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: