Action 9 investigates Florida pet lemon law

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several families claim a Petland store sold them ill dogs that needed care, but they claim the company refused to pay their veterinarian bills.

“It's heartbreaking. It's hard. It’s not something you want to come home to,” said an emotional Iliana Colon.

Five weeks after she bought a mini Australian shepherd, Colon can no longer afford vet bills.

Since buying the puppy at Petland in Waterford Lakes, Colon claims the dog has been sick, despite treatment by two different veterinarians.

When she asked the store to cover her vet bills, she said, she was told that Petland wouldn’t do anything about it and that it was her responsibility.

Florida's pet law says if a vet finds a dog unfit for sale within 14 days, the store must refund, exchange or cover vet bills up to the cost of the pet.

Colon’s vet’s diagnosis states the puppy is unfit for sale.

“I do believe they owe me. I invested everything, and they don't care,” said Colon.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich went to Petland for answers.

“You can call, email or something. They're not going to be videotaped,” said a store employee.

Urich was later contacted by Pawsitive Solutions, which handles Petland's customer relations.  It said the vet only listed symptoms, not a diagnosis, so Petland did not have to pay.

Six consumers contacted the Better Business Bureau, claiming Petland did not follow Florida's pet law, including a woman who wants to remain anonymous.

“Did you have to fight to get vet bills paid?” asked Ulrich.

“Yes. It came down to anger, tears, everything I could pull out so they would hear me,” said the upset customer.

Eventually, her credit card reimbursed her for the vet bills Petland would not pay.

Iliana Colon is just starting her fight.

The pet law is administered by Florida's Division of Consumer Services, and pet owners need to contact that agency.

But many times, owners must take legal action on their own to enforce it.