Pet regret – consumer complaints climb

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

Welcoming a new pet into your family is an exciting time, so the last thing you’d want to discover after bringing the animal home is any unexpected issues or problems.

An emotional bond has likely formed that could make an exchange or refund out of the question, while a ‘repair’ could equate to expensive vet bills and a dispute with the seller.

Unfortunately, issues with pet purchases are on the rise. In the last 12 months, Consumer Protection received 72 complaints, up from 55 complaints the previous year.

Around 83 per cent of complaints related to puppies or dogs and medical issues were the top concern – so we always recommend arranging a pre-purchase vet check to ensure the animal is in good health.

We also hear about lack of documentation, such as registration papers and vaccination certificates, as well as animals that don’t meet the description – for example, if a dog is advertised as a medium-size breed, but grows to become very large.

You have rights under the Australian Consumer Law if you buy from a shop, or registered breeder that is a business. But these protections are unlikely to be available for private sales, via Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, or when you adopt from a shelter or rescue centre.

That’s why it is important before you buy to research the breed, its parents and the seller, in addition to carefully considering your ongoing commitment to provide a suitably-sized home, food and water, exercise and veterinary care.

Pet scams are also common, so be cautious if you’re looking to buy online where popular breeds are offered for low prices on fake websites, and payment only be made via a non-secure method, such as bank transfer.

New laws aimed at stopping puppy farming in WA have recently passed State Parliament and include a requirement for consumers to receive information at purchase about where dogs have come from, as well as the transition of pet shops into adoption centres.

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