Backyard dog breeder ordered to pay compensation (Fay Armstrong)

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A backyard dog breeder who continues to sell puppies infected with parvovirus has been ordered by the Supreme Court to stop selling diseased animals and to pay over $3,000 in compensation to consumers.

Fay Marie Armstrong of Spearwood provided an enforceable undertaking to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection in July 2011 not to sell diseased animals, or any animal which has not been vet-checked and vaccinated. 

Since July 2011, Consumer Protection received further complaints from consumers who had purchased dogs from Ms Armstrong. Ms Armstrong breached the undertaking by selling or offering for sale diseased puppies to three buyers without first getting a veterinarian certificate to show that the animal was in good health, had been vaccinated and was disease-free. 

In each instance the consumers responded to classified advertisements and met Ms Armstrong in a public car park. Ms Armstrong used a false name in dealing with the consumers, who paid in excess of $300 for the pets. 

The Supreme Court found that Ms Armstrong had breached the enforceable undertaking and ordered that she comply with the undertaking. On 22 August 2012, the Court ordered Ms Armstrong to pay a total of $3,374 to the consumers and to pay Court costs of $5,362. The Court also ordered that she be restrained from selling any animal without a veterinarian’s report, and from selling any animal infected with parvovirus, an often deadly disease which is readily and inexpensively inoculated against.

This was the first enforceable undertaking signed in WA under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the first successful enforcement of a breached ACL undertaking anywhere in Australia since the new laws came into effect in January 2011.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the buyers had to be refunded for their purchase and reimbursed for vet bills after their puppies died.

“It is particularly distressing for consumers who buy pets only to find that they are diseased and have to be put down or require expensive veterinary treatment. It is simply unacceptable to cause this kind of suffering in the animals themselves when parvovirus is so easily and inexpensively avoided, but so harmful. This case sends a clear message to those backyard dog breeders that they must comply with the requirements of the Australian Consumer Law or risk serious penalties,” Ms Driscoll said.

“Consumers should demand to see a veterinarian’s report or to have pets they plan to purchase examined or certified by a veterinarian to help ensure they are healthy at the time of sale. Sellers can argue that the animal may have contracted the condition after purchase, so a pre-purchase health check is extremely important.” 

There is an online publication called ‘A consumer’s guide to buying a pet’ available on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection . A hard copy of the brochure can be obtained by calling 1300 30 40 54 or emailing consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au .

 

END OF RELEASE

 

NOTE: Still images of Fay Armstrong are available, courtesy of Channel 9

(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)

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Media Contact:

Alan Hynd  9282 0961 or 0429-078791  alan.hynd@commerce.wa.gov.au

 

Consumer Protection
Media release
28 Aug 2012

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