Dog VCAT Case Settled

By Cobram Courier

A Cobram dog breeder and a Melbourne pet shop were at the centre of a recent VCAT hearing after being sued by a dog owner.

The Animal Law Institute launched a lawsuit last November against the pet shop that sold the dog and the breeder, claiming they should reimburse the owner for the vet bills incurred to treat severe and debilitating hip dysplasia in the dog.

The breeder argued the dog’s owner was only entitled to a refund for the dog.

Both the pet shop and the breeder made applications for the tribunal to dismiss the owner’s lawsuit without the matter proceeding to a full hearing.

Animal Law Institute senior lawyer Amanda Richman said a dog or cat was different to other consumer goods and it wasn’t fair to say the owner should accept a refund or trade-in.

‘‘You can’t replace a loved pet. We believe the Australian Consumer Law allows owners to claim vet fees from breeders and pet suppliers, in some circumstances,’’ she said.

On April 12, VCAT member Linda Rowland rejected the pet shop’s and breeder’s applications to dismiss the case.

Ms Rowland held the case, and the question of whether the dog’s owner should be compensated for veterinary expenses, were of ‘‘sufficient importance’’ and the case should be heard by a senior VCAT member at a full hearing.

The allegations made by the dog’s owner included that both the pet shop and the breeder failed to comply with the consumer guarantees, including the guarantee that goods be of acceptable quality.

The owner also made allegations against the pet shop for misleading and deceptive conduct and breach of contract.

The case was settled confidentially.