Highland County Court of Common Pleas Judge Rocky A. Coss held on January 25, 2016 that “suppliers representing dogs for sale, lease, stud, or trade to consumers as American Kennel Club (AKC) registered or registerable when such dogs are not AKC registered or registerable at the time of representation, is a deceptive act or practice in violation of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, ORC §1345.02(B)(1) and (2).”
In this case, Plaintiffs brought suit against a dog breeder who advertised puppies for sale as being of a particular quality and as American Kennel Club (AKC) registerable. The AKC is the largest and most well-known registry of purebred dogs in the United States. AKC registration is required for most dog show events and dogs with registration are typically of higher market value than ordinary dogs. The Plaintiffs purchased the puppies at a premium price due to the representation that they were AKC registerable, and later discovered that the puppies they had purchased were not AKC registerable.
The ruling in this case is significant because the worth of an animal in Ohio is ordinarily measured by its “fair market value.” Owners who suffer harms to their pets are often limited in recovery to the fair market value of those pets, which is often zero or very low for ordinary pets. One Plaintiff in this case purchased two puppies, whom he had promptly spayed/neutered, and planned to keep as pets. Those dogs, altered dogs, are dogs that fall into the “very low” category of fair market value. The value of AKC registration for these dogs was questionable because they could not compete in shows, etc. as an unaltered AKC-registered dog would. Because the pet owner was able to seek recovery pursuant to the Ohio Sales Consumer Practices Act, it provided a new avenue for recovery, as well as increased damages.
Plaintiffs were further granted a permanent injunction prohibiting the breeder from making these representations in the future.