EDISON - The state Division of Consumer Affairs fined 17 pet shops across New Jersey this week for allegedly violating the state’s “Pet Purchase Protection Act” laws. In the same week, animal control officers also shut down two more pet shops for reportedly having unsanitary conditions.

New Jersey residents who buy animals from pet shops should know that there are laws that protect them if they purchase a sick pet.

The law covers cats or dogs purchased from pet stores or breeders. This includes animals purchased from people who breed animals as a hobby.

Under the law, a customer has 14 days to document that their pet has a disease and six months to document if the pet has a congenital condition. If the pet is ill or defective, it can be returned for a full refund, plus veterinarian fees.

Anyone wishing to keep the animal can also have the store or breeder pay for vet bills for up to twice the purchasing price.

In order to qualify under the law, a vet must certify that the animal was unfit for sale.

More information about the law can be found at the Division of Consumer Affairs website.