Puppy lemon law

(WSVN) - She got an adorable puppy, then she discovered the dog had a problem that would cost thousands to correct. She was told she might have to put the dog to sleep, but she refused and called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If you Google ‘cute,’ don’t be surprised if this little girl pops up.

Tiffany Garcia, bought sick puppy: “We actually just fell in love with her the first time we saw her.”

Lilo is a French bulldog, a breed Tiffany has always wanted to have.

Tiffany Garcia: “We saved up for a puppy, and we were really passionate about the French bulldog.”

Tiffany found a South Florida breeder who sold her the puppy for $2,000. When she brought Lilo home everything was great for a few hours.

Tiffany Garcia: “The puppy didn’t urinate or poop at all that day, and later I would find out that it was because she withheld food from her.”

After Tiffany fed the puppy, it started.

Tiffany Garcia: “She had uncontrollable diaherra. Everywhere, everywhere. Pee and poop everywhere. We were like, ‘This is not normal. We need to take her to a vet.'”

She then took Lilo to the breeder’s vet.

Tiffany Garcia: “‘This is definitely not normal. She should not have sold her to you like this, and you need to take her to a neurologist.'”

She did. Bad news. Lilo was incontinent, meaning she could not control her bowells. The cost of surgery —

Tiffany Garcia: “The estimate was about $3,000, and that’s just to diagnose her. If she needs surgery, it’s going be close to $10,000 or more.”

Tiffany called the breeder, telling her under the Puppy Lemon Law she should get her money back. The response —

Tiffany Garcia: “And she told me she was going to laugh in my face when the courts rule in her favor.”

Patrick Fraser: “While you were talking she just pooped on the floor.”

Tiffany Garcia: “Yeah.”

Tiffany has been told to put the dog to sleep. She can’t stand the thought of that, but she can’t afford the surgery to save her, either.

Patrick Fraser: “It’s a gorgeous puppy.”

Tiffany Garcia: “Yeah, she is adoreable, but she is really sick.”

Well Howard, Florida has a Puppy Lemon Law. What does it say about cases like this?

Howard Finkelstein: “It covers this puppy, because the law says if a vet certifes that a dog was unfit for sale within 14 days of you receiving it, you can return the dog, get the purchase price back, plus the vet bill to determine the animals health. Second option, exchange the dog and get your vet bill paid. Or third, keep the dog and get reimbursed for all the vet bills to treat the dog up to the purchase price of the animal, meaning, by Florida Law, Tiffany can keep the dog and get her $2,000 purchase price back.”

And since Tiffany couldn’t bear to give up Lilo, that’s what she asked for — to keep the dog and get her $2,000 back to help cover some of the vet bills.

The breeder told me, “No,” that Tiffany knew the dog was sick when she bought her. Then she said she didn’t think the Puppy Lemon Law covered her. Fortunately, she contacted a smart attorney who told me the breeder would work this out.

Tiffany then told us she could not talk to us anymore, meaning she probably got what she wanted — to keep the dog and get her $2,000 back, and she was blocked from disclosing that to us.

Howard Finkelstein: “One bit of advice, immediately take your new puppy to your vet to get it checked out. That way, if there is a major problem that can’t be easily cured, you can invoke the Puppy Lemon Law and get your money back before you become attached to the animal. And if the breeder or store won’t return your money, you have to sue them or call the police because it may also be a crime.”

Tiffany can’t talk to us, but it’s clear what she is doing. She has started this site to raise the money to pay for the surgeries so Lilo can live a long, normal life.

Tiffany Garcia: “She is so loving. She is so happy. She is so full of life.”

Hope she is able to get that surgery.

Now remember, the Puppy Lemon Law covers dogs bought from pet stores and breeders who sell two or more litters a year. If the dog’s owner sells less than that, you are not covered.

And back to Lilo — If you want to donate a dollar or two to help Tiffany collect the $10,000 for the surgery for the puppy, click here.

Purchased a real lemon that’s left a bitter taste in your mouth? Tired of it dogging you? Let us take a bite at it. We aren’t high priced purebreds, but we are trained to clean up messes.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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