By the Division of Professional Licensure
  1. Pets are an investment NOT an impulse purchase. When properly planned the addition of a pet to your home can be like adding a member to the family, but the wrong pet at the wrong time results in thousands of animals being turned over to animal shelters.
  2. Match your pet to your lifestyle not to the latest trend or the last movie you saw. The puppies in 101 Dalmatians sure are cute, but that doesn't mean they'll be the best pets for your home. You need to anticipate each pet's grooming, dietary and exercise needs, its temperament, your schedule, and your lease or condo rules (are pets even allowed where you live?), etc. before selecting the right pet. For example, if you do not have time to groom an animal daily, you would want to choose one with a shorter coat. If you live in a small apartment, a large animal such as a Great Dane would not be suitable for your living arrangements. Puppies are like infants, so don't expect them to sleep through the night the day you bring them home.
  3. Buyers beware: Consumers sometimes pay double or triple the price of a pet because they are buying from a pet store on credit paying higher price and finance charges. For example dog breeders may offer the same type of puppy that is available in a pet store for a lower price. And don't forget to consider adopting from an animal shelter that may make a pet available for free or for a small donation.
  4. Understand the true costs of owning an animal. Before buying a pet, be sure you are prepared for the costs of shots, veterinary exams and treatments, as well as the equipment your pet may need. A kitten or puppy can be expected to require several hundred dollars worth of care in its first few years.
  5. Massachusetts law requires that pet shops be licensed and display the license in a location visible to customers. Purchasing a dog or cat from an unlicensed pet shop will not allow you the guarantee provided to dogs and cats sold by licensed pet shops.
  6. Make sure the pet store is sanitary. The pet shop should be free of strong odors, cages should be clean and free of rust.
  7. Healthy animals are energetic and shiny coated. Look for signs that the animal is sick, such as diarrhea, runny eyes, cough, dull coat, and runny noses. A sick animal cannot legally be sold by a pet store. Animals cannot be sold while they are receiving medication.
  8. Under Massachusetts law, a veterinarian must have examined the animal within seven days prior to the sale. Pet shops must never knowingly sell an animal that is sick. Make sure you are provided with the animal's complete medical records, and a notice of the 14-day warranty provided under Massachusetts law. You must sign a statement acknowledging the receipt of these materials. In addition, the following information must be available for puppies: date of birth, city/town and state of birth, the date the pet shop received the puppy, the complete vaccination, worming, and medication and treatment records.
  9. Have the dog or cat examined by a licensed veterinarian within 14 days of purchase. By law, you have the right to return the dogs and cats for a replacement or refund within two business days of the examination if the animal is diseased or has a congenital disorder. In order to do so, you must have a veterinarian's written statement stating that the dog or cat has a disease or disorder and you must have the animal examined and make the claim to the store within the deadlines established by law.
  10. State law does not provide for warranties for animals other than dogs and cats. However, individual pet shops may offer their own guarantee towards animals like birds and reptiles.
  11. If you have a complaint about a pet purchased from a pet shop or against a pet shop itself, contact Animal Health at (617) 626-1795. If you have a complaint against a veterinarian you may contact the Board of Registration of Veterinarians at 617-727-3080. You may file a complaint by downloading a copy of our complaint form pdf format of Application for Complaint Form .