What are the Laws about Pet Adoption?

1 minute read

Pet adoption laws are state-specific, and often also city- and county-specific, so the rights of the pet adopter and the regulations applying to the pet seller can all vary substantially. In addition, certain laws may be applicable only in certain situations, such as applying only to sales from a breeder, or only from a pet store. There are general laws that apply in most states, but it may be necessary to review the laws of your jurisdiction or consult with an attorney to understand how your laws apply to your particular situation.

Prohibitions on Breed or Species

States have broad limitations on the types of animals its residents can own, typically including wild, exotic, and venomous animals. Certain animals — like wolves, wolf-hybrids, ferrets, and lynx — are prohibited in some states and permitted in others, and sometimes only with official approval. Local city and county laws may add additional restrictions, such as on farm animals — like backyard chickens — in city limits, or on certain breeds of dogs.

Pet “Lemon” Laws

For animals that become sick or die within a limited time after adoption — typically around 2 weeks for illness, 6 months for hereditary defects — some states pet adopters to seek reimbursement for veterinary expenses, or a refund or replacement of the animal. Each state has specific requirements and time periods outlined on the Pet Lemon Laws page.

Mandatory Disclosures

States vary on which pet transfers their mandatory disclosure laws apply to, but they general require disclosure of an animal’s age, breed, and history, or the best expert-assessed estimations. They also require immunization and veterinary records, and disclosure of any bites or incidents of aggression. Even if certain information is not required by your state to be disclosed, it is reasonable for you to ask for it if you feel it is relevant to your decision to adopt a pet.