Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Help Me Howard: Dead Puppy
Very few things can be as much fun as bringing home a new puppy, and very few things can be as sad as watching that young puppy die. It happens, but the question that pet owners then have is, how do they get their money back? It's why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- There are animal lovers, and then there are animal lovers.
Rebecca has 16 birds, two cats, a pond full of koi fish and one guinea hen in the backyard.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "I like the fact that they love you unconditionally. Yeah, it's unconditional love and companionship."
And on Christmas Eve, Rebecca and her husband decided to surprise their son and bought a French bulldog puppy at a pet store.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "He was playful, and I just knew he was going to be for us."
As the video shows, they all adored Buster the bulldog, and he loved them.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "They were great. You will see it in the video, that's like tri-fold that amount of energy. Great, he slept with us, he wanted to be here."
But five days later, he was no longer the energetic puppy.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "Puppy is hot, hot, like he came out of an oven. Very weak, and he started throwing up, and he started having larger, more constant bouts of diarrhea."
They took the young puppy to their vet. The news was bad.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "And two hours later, our vet calls us back sadly to tell us that he has a strong case of Parvovirus. They put him on an IV."
Parvovirus can be deadly. Buster tried to fight it. Rebecca was at the vet's office with him.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "We went everyday and sat with the puppy hours on end to make sure that he knows we didn't abandon him."
But then their vet told them the puppy was suffering and he didn't think Buster was going to make it.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "So we needed to make a decision."
Buster had to be put to sleep.
Rebecca then went back to the puppy store where she bought the dog, asked for the money back she had spent for the dog and her vet bill.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "'Well I'm not going to cover your vet bill, and I'm going to try to make an exception to return your money.'"
Rebecca left, heartbroken about Buster and angry that the puppy store would not refund her money. Then she called Help Me Howard.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "Because I don't want this to happen to anyone else."
Well Howard, the dog died of Parvovirus. Rebecca can't get him back, but can she get her money back?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: "Yes. Florida has what's called a puppy lemon law, and it regulates pet dealers. If you buy a dog that turns out to have been sick when you bought it, when the dog dies, not only do you get your money back, you also get reimbursed for reasonable vet bills incurred in trying to save the dog's life."
When I contacted Puppies to Go on Southwest Eighth Street, the manager told me that they thought the puppy was healthy when they sold him, that they didn't want any problems and would refund Rebecca the $1,300 she had paid for the dog, plus the $600 she had spent at the vet trying to save him.
They promised to return the money by next week.
Rebecca was fortunate the store agreed to follow the law, and if one won't...
Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: "If they refuse to pay, then you have to go to small claims court, and you will win. Most judges will be very sympathetic, because most people understand the trauma of losing a pet."
Rebecca had the puppy lemon law on her side, but she hopes a legislator watches her story and makes the law more effective.
Rebecca Figuerola, Puppy Died: "Maybe an addendum to the law, maybe a certain criteria. I don't think puppies should be sold under 12 weeks of age. I think puppies should be sold with full vaccinations."
Patrick Fraser: "When you buy a puppy from a store or a breeder, you should take it to your own vet to get checked out. You have to pay for that. But if your vet says the dog is sick, then the lemon law kicks in, and the pet store or breeder has to pay for the treatment, or you can return the puppy, get your money back or get another animal."
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CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com