What's the deal with pet adoption these days?

So this girl I know got a cat from a cat adoption place less than two weeks ago. Very quickly she noticed the cat was very lethargic. Figuring it was just scared of it new place they let it go for a few days but it just got worse. She took it to the vet and they said it had a feline virus and needed to be put down.

Since the kitten had the disease before she bought it, can the adoption place be held liable for the bills?

Basically she spent a lot of money to hold a kitten for about a week and then is being forced to pay large vet bills and a final one for euthanization.

This is in California, if that helps. Is there some sort of pet lemon laws or anything?

I think it would depend if this feline virus testing is a part of typical animal physicals when they come in to the foster home/rescue society and also if the cat was displaying the lethargy before it was adopted out. It basically comes down to negligence. If they don’t routinely check for this virus and they also didn’t note any lethargy, how are they to know?

That said, I’d think it would be good faith to refund her money, or a portion of it, but probably not the vet bills. What if this was caught 6 months or a year down the road? Would she want the money back then?

It certainly should be. Reputable animal shelters do so. If this one doesn’t, don’t deal with them any more.

Their defense is going to be she should have taken it to the vet sooner. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the adoption agreement didn’t have a line in it somewhere saying she agreed to take it to the vet right away.

A feline leukemia/FIV test should have been the first thing the vet did, and, if positive, the vet would probably have recommended euthanasia. The vet bills shouldn’t be too outrageous for that.

I’d say the shelter should offer to refund the adoption fees, but getting anything more than that from them is going to be difficult.

There’s always small claims court, if you really think they should cover the vet bills. If they gave any sort of guarantee of health, maybe you could win. If nothing else, there’s a chance one of the court shows could be interested.

Just a data point and as a cat-mommy who lost her FIV+ baby last year…A feline leukemia/FIV test should have been done, but the vet should not be recommend euthanasia unless the cat is already sick (and even then only if it is not recoverable). I am well aware that some vets do recommend and needlessly euthanize such animals, but my vet didn’t. He recommended only that my cat be kept away from other cats (so as not to infect them) and that any infections/illnesses be immediately treated and the cat kept as healthy as possible. My cat was 7 when he succumbed to liver failure and had to be put to sleep (he had recovered from liver failure once before).

FIV is akin to HIV…and a well cared for cat can live a comfortable happy life, even if it is a short one.

Oh, I agree. As long as the cat isn’t sick, there’s no need to put it down just because it tests positive. But this particular cat was already sick, and if the vet believed it was due to FIV, I don’t think most vets would recommend prolonged treatment.

Who runs the shelter? Was it a city/county run facility, or private? I am not sure if this makes a difference, but it might.

When I adopted my cats, they came with a vet visit and testing (at an approved vet office) as part of the adoption fee. This was a county run facility. It said right in the contract that failure to take the cat to the vet not only released them from liability, but would prevent me from adopting from them again (assuming they found out).

FWIW, the shelter I volunteer at has adopted out FIV+ cats, however, they are clearly labeled as such, kept separate from other cats, and their special medical requirements are made clear to prospective adopters.

Yes, if this particular cat was very sick (but not just sick- that can still be fixed ;)) then euthanasia probably would have been suggested, but I just wanted to respond in general to clear up any misconceptions anyone might have about it. :slight_smile:

FIV+ kitties can be expensive to treat but illnesses can be treated nonetheless and I hate to see unnecessary destruction of the animals.

I don’t know about California, but adoptions from reputable pet adoption centers cost almost $100. It seems to me, that paying that much for a kitten that lives a week is outrageous.

I have adopted 2 cats from a shelter that I feel does a really good job of socializing and caring for its cats. Their adoption agreement is very clear, though, that any vet bills after adoption are up to the new owner. They are no-kill shelter, and I think in this particular case my shelter would want to take the cat back and make their own decision about euthanasia. I would expect a reputable shelter to address any health guarantees in the adoption paperwork, but I would be surprised for them to take responsibility for any vet bills. For one thing, they usually have vets who volunteer free and low-cost services, so the bills the adopter gets are probably much higher than the shelter would have paid if it had taken care of the cat. I think your friend would be in the right to bring the cat back to the shelter to at least avoid the euthanasia bill. If they overlooked such a major health issue, they should be willing to take it back after just a few days. They might also waive her adoption fee on a new, healthy kitty.

I am sure they are as deep in kitties. They would be happy to replace it .

Your shelter may vary, but we adopted a dog two weeks ago. As part of the adoption agreement, we were given a certificate for a free checkup at our vet, and told that if there were any issues we could return the dog within 7 days.

I don’t know whether there’s a “lemon law” for pets, but the key issue here is what the adoption company told your friend. Did they tell her the animal was healthy? Did they give her any kind of assurances or promises? Do they advertise in a certain way? What does her contract with them say?

Depending on what they told her, she may have causes of action for False Advertising (Business & Professions Code 17500), Unfair Competition (B&P 17200), Fraud or Breach of Contract. There’s also a decent argument that even if they didn’t tell her anything, she has a reasonable expectation of getting a cat that’s not terminally ill. If she’s really that torqued and they won’t refund her, she can file a small claims action.

I am not your lawyer. This is not legal advice. If you’re even considering relying on it, smack yourself hard in the head.

Reputable adoption centers like Anti-Cruelty give something of a animal warranty. My dog was sick after I adopted her and they were willing to treat her for free. I chose to get with a different vet as the cost wasnt very high and the hours for the Anti-Cruelty vet were inconvenient for me. It was an expensive issue then I would have certainly gone with them.

Did you friend even bother calling the adoption place and asking for options?

>Depending on what they told her, she may have causes of action for False Advertising (Business & Professions Code 17500), Unfair Competition (B&P 17200), Fraud or Breach of Contract.

I seriously doubt laws written for retail products apply to animal adoption. I also suspect the contract covers the agency on this.

I think the health of the animal depends upon the facility and funds available. We have both an SPCA and city run Animal Control in my area and both offer the option of returning the animal at any time.

I was looking for a dog about a year ago and noticed the SPCA routinely checks for heart-worm and posts notices on several cages that the animal had tested positive for heart-worm and the adopter would be responsible for additional charges to treat the animal.

Animal Control, if they bother to check, posts no such notice.

I selected a dog from Animal Control, paid my $25 fee and immediately took it to a Vet. It tested positive for heart-worm, kennel cough and pneumonia and I was looking at a $1,500.00 bill if I decided to treat the animal. While standing in the Vet’s exam room, I knew I had the option of returning it to Animal Control but I’ve got this soft spot for dogs and decided to treat her.

I made the right decision.

Something very similar happened to my mother and father a few years ago. The shelter paid for a vet (of their choosing) to make sure the kitten was healthy enough for adoption.

So they took the kitten home, and after a while he became ill. My mother took him to our family vet, where she was told that the kitten had FIP and fluid in his chest. My mother decided to have him euthanized, and called the shelter to let them know that it was contagious and a possibility that the other kittens in his litter may have it. The shelter then informed my mother that they knew about the FIP, because they had to euthanize the remaining kittens in his litter.

Personally I think they should have called everyone who had adopted a kitten from that litter, to inform them of the disease and the possibility of it being passed on to other cats. I don’t know how other shelters work, but I will never trust the shelter mandated vet visit again. Maybe FIP is something that they don’t test for, but it should be. i would highly suggest taking any future adoptions to your personal vet and having them checked for ANY diseases. It may have to come out of your pocket, but it will be worth it in the end.

Contagious cats are kept in “quarantine,” which is a separate cage arrangement, separate from the other cats. If the shelter knew it had FIP, it probably was in quarantine, which your mother would have known. Pet Helpers, here in Charleston, SC, is a non-euthanizing shelter, run by volunteers and looking for donations. Charleston also has a SPCA, but that’s a separate place. SPCA also does not euthanize animals once they are admitted into the general animal area. When the animal first comes in, it is placed in quarantine, and after five days, if no signs of illness, it is placed in the general area. Right now, Pet Helpers advertises a very special cat, who has FIP. She is in quarantine and now shows no signs of sickness. She will be kept in quarantine until she is adopted.

All of those great answers above, and one more:

Shelters are just what the name implies: a roof, some warmth, some food and a LOT of kindness. For a while.

Unfortunately, sometimes, due to the sheer volume of animals brought in, a particular illness might be missed.

They do the best they can with the limited funds/resources available, so if someone adopts what turns out to be a sick animal, I would hope that this would be taken into consideration and not let the blame rest solely on the shelters.



[veterinarian hat ON… well, more like a fancy surgery hat… ]

FIP is a feline virus (coronavirus), which is currently VERY difficult to diagnose ante-mortem. It can strike fast, has no cure, and kills them quick. None of the current fast diagnostic tests are good for diagnosing it. It is difficult to separate regular enteric coronavirus from mutated FIP coronavirus. No cattery or shelter that I know of tests for this disease, unlike FIV/FeLV, both of which can be routinely diagnosed, if only at least to know if the animal has been exposed. My hunch is that this is the virus the kitty had.

The second feline virus I have for a quickly deteriorating kitty is feline panleukopenia (feline parvovirus). This is akin to canine parvovirus, but unlike that disease, bloody diarrhea is not THE common presentation. Like its canine counterpart, though, it replicates in rapidly dividing cells (bone marrow, lymphoid tissue, intestinal mucosa). And like the canine version, kitties can go downhill fast. Again, this is a virus that is not really screened for in shelters (just like canine parvo is not necessarily routinely screened for). I’m not even sure if there is a cat-specific test, or if people just use the canine fecal parvovirus test and hope it cross-reacts. Also, the times I’ve seen this test done, it was more of a confirmation that the dog indeed has parvo (it is done in already sick animals).

So… These are two feline viruses that are not currently screened for, yet they are deadly for cats. The onus was on the owner for not getting a lethargic kitty to the veterinarian earlier.

[/veterinarian hat OFF]