- Western Australian Government campaign launched to empower new pet owners to understand their consumer rights
- 186 consumer complaints received about issues with new pets in the last three years
- Almost $30,000 total successfully refunded to complainants from 2020 to 2022
WA Commerce Minister Sue Ellery today launched a new pet buyer awareness campaign promoting Western Australians’ rights when purchasing a pet, following a spike in complaints to Consumer Protection.
Buying a new pet is exciting for families and individuals but it can also be devastating if something unexpected goes wrong with a beloved companion.
Consumer Protection has received 186 complaints in the last three years about new pets having significant health issues or their pedigree or other factors not matching their description. There have also been complaints about breeders taking deposits for prospective litters and then not returning the deposit under certain circumstances.
The spike in complaints has led to the public naming of one breeder in WA. Ongoing investigations into several other breeders and pet shops are being conducted through Consumer Protection who have also refunded a total of $27,300 to 31 complainants between 2020 and 2022.
Consumer Protection has developed the new campaign to empower new pet buyers and increase awareness about how the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) protects new pet owners, providing the same consumer guarantees as any other product purchased.
Under the ACL, pets sold by breeders and pet shops are required to match the description as advertised, be of acceptable quality, be free of significant health issues and live a healthy lifespan that is expected of the breed. Traders must also meet additional promises to purchasers based on animal pedigree, condition, performance or characteristics
The ACL applies to all pet shops, breeders and private sellers operating in trade or commerce, but does not apply to someone selling a pet privately on a one-off or ad hoc basis.
If a buyer has a genuine issue with their new pet, they may be entitled to a remedy. This will depend on whether the problem is major or minor and could range from a partial to full refund. Pet owners may be able to keep their beloved new pet while receiving monetary compensation or reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.
Information about consumer rights when buying a pet is available on the Consumer Protection website. If you are unable to seek a remedy for a genuine issue with a new pet, lodge a complaint on the Consumer Protection website or call 1300 30 40 54.
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister Sue Ellery:
“It is important for Western Australians to know that they have rights when they buy a new pet, like they would with any other purchase.
“To make sure your new pet comes with consumer guarantees, be sure to purchase from reputable local breeders or pet stores, as consumer guarantees do not apply to ad-hoc, one-off purchases from a private seller.
“When shopping around for a new pet, see if you can visit the pet in the place it was born and meet its parents. This is the best way to check that a pet has been well cared for and to get an idea of how big the pet will grow and what its temperament might be like.
“Don’t buy pets online without meeting them first, as you could be inadvertently supporting a puppy farm, poor breeding practices or fall victim to a scam.
“Of course, if buying a pet isn’t for you, I encourage you to consider adopting your new companion from an animal shelter or rescue.”