Pet trade in short of sufficient regulation, Beijing judges say

Updated: Apr 3, 2023 China Daily Print
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A dog gazes at a pet birthday cake on display in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin province. [Photo/VCG]

Frequent pet business lawsuits have prompted Beijing judges to call for stronger supervision of the market to protect consumer rights and prevent trade risks.

The Beijing Dongcheng District People's Court issued a report on Friday showing that a large number of disputes involving the pet trade in 2021 and 2022 were brought by unqualified sellers.

The court drew this conclusion after studying 207 verdicts issued during the two years and disclosing them on China Judgements Online, the website established by the Supreme People's Court, the country's top court, to improve judicial transparency.

"More than half the pet sellers in the survey lacked a business qualification, reflecting the low threshold for market access," said Wan Hongyu, deputy chief judge of the district court's No 3 civil division.

She cited regulations on business registration and animal epidemic prevention that state that individuals or companies wishing to start a pet business must register at the local industrial and commercial department first. If they plan to sell dogs, they should also apply for a dog business license and accept oversight.

In the report, however, the court found many sellers were unregistered individuals who didn't even have a dog business license, meaning that "they couldn't easily be supervised, and the quality of the pets they sold could not be guaranteed," she said.

She said that in addition, there were also frequent lawsuits initiated by consumers who bought pets that turned out to be ill during the period surveyed.

Under the Law on Animal Prevention and Quarantine, individuals or companies must first apply for quarantine at the local animal health supervision department, and then obtain the necessary certificates and attach quarantine marks before selling or transporting animals.

"In legal practice, many disputes over pet sales were caused by the pet falling ill after delivery, and very few sellers could provide inspection and quarantine certificates," Wan added.

In one case, a man surnamed Zhao sued a pet shop after the French bulldog he bought began vomiting.

"The shop told Zhao a vaccine certificate would be sent with the pet, but it wasn't," said Guo Xiaolei, a judges' assistant at the court. "Zhao wanted to return the dog and asked the shop for a refund because when the pet was taken to the hospital, it was found to be ill.

"But the shop refused, saying that the certificate must have been lost during delivery and the dog was not ill," she said. "The two parties failed to reach an agreement, so they came to us."

Following the trial, the court found in favor of Zhao.

"The seller couldn't prove the dog contracted the virus because of the buyer, nor could they provide evidence to prove the quality of the pet they'd sold," Guo added.

The judges suggested that consumers sign written contracts with sellers. "We hope the problems discovered in the lawsuits will lead to the promotion of the healthy development of the pet business and protect consumers," said Zeng Jin, a court official.

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