Can I Get My Money Back?

Question: A dog breeder advertised that a specific female dog was pregnant and to put a deposit down to reserve your pick of the litter. So I put a $1500 deposit down on a puppy that wasn’t born yet. When it came time for the female to deliver her puppies, the breeder notified me that his female had a miscarriage and there are no puppies. I asked for my deposit back and the breeder refused because his website states “all deposits are nonrefundable.” He gave me three options. 1) Use the $1500 for different puppy or adult from different parents that he owns. 2) Wait for him to try to breed those exact same dogs again (wait time approximately a year). 3) Or walk away with nothing. I have bank records of a $1500 wire transfer from my checking account to his and text messages to back everything up.

Answer: You are entitled to your money back. A “nonrefundable deposit” generally means that if you change your mind it is not refundable. (Even if a contract provides for a nonrefundable deposit, it may not entitle the seller to forfeit the entire purchase price, as opposed to a reasonable percentage to compensate him for having to sell the item again.) A “nonrefundable deposit” does not in any event mean that the seller can fail to deliver and keep your money. Under Illinois law (Uniform Commercial Code, section 2-613, 810 ILCS 5/2-613), “Where the contract requires for its performance goods identified when the contract is made, and the goods suffer casualty without fault of either party before the risk of loss passes to the buyer, . . . then (a) if the loss is total the contract is avoided . . . .” “Goods” includes the unborn young of animals, under Uniform Commercial Code section 2-105, 810 ILCS 5/2-105. The seller is not entitled to forfeit your money or force you to take an animal other than the specific one you purchased.

Illinois recently enacted a “lemon law” for pets which will take effect shortly; it gives consumers additional rights, such as where a purchased animal becomes ill or dies shortly after delivery.