How old must a puppy be prior to being offered for sale?”
The answer to this question, like just about any question in law, depends on where you live. Approximately fifteen states have laws that state how old a puppy must be before it is offered for sale or adopted out to an owner. Three additional states have administrative regulations that give a minimum age for puppy sales. Of those states with laws, thirteen require that a puppy be at least eight weeks old before being offered for sale. Of the remaining five states, two states (Pennsylvania and Virginia) mandate that a puppy be at least seven weeks old and one state (Nebraska) requires that a puppy reaches six weeks. Two states do not speak to a definitive age; rather, these two states (Illinois and Nevada) make it unlawful for to sell a puppy who has not been weaned from his or her mother. (Click here to see a table that breaks down each law with a link to the text of the statute).
One thing that is crucial to understand with these puppy sale laws is that they may not apply to everyone. In other words, the laws may be limited to a particular class of people, such as dog breeders, kennel operators, or other animal facilities. About twelve of the eighteen states make it unlawful for any person to sell an underage puppy. The remaining states limit the provisions to pet shops, animal dealers, or breeders. Like many of the pet sale laws (generally known as “puppy lemon laws”), the focus of these laws is on curbing the distribution of puppies from unregulated sources like puppy mills rather than preventing sales by those not in the breeding business.
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