Case study on Canine Atopic Dermatitis from a medico-legal viewpoint: A takeaway of knowledge for practicing veterinary clinicians
Background: Despite pets are sentient beings, they are legally considered and regulated as objects in sales contracts. Therefore, the buyer is protected by law if the purchased animal should be affected by defects such as an illness or a congenital / hereditary condition that depreciates its value. In the sale of animals, a disease is legally considered a defect if it is hidden, severe, and pre-existing at the time of purchase. Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) having these three requirements can, therefore, legally be considered a defect. To acquire his legal rights, the buyer must obtain a certification from the veterinarian reporting that the animal was unfit for buying within a certain time frame.
Aim: This paper analyzes the legal choices that owners of dogs affected with CAD can make to help practicing veterinary clinicians comprehend and recognize this disease and because it may be considered a defect.
Methods: Thirteen cases of CAD are reported and analyzed from a medico-legal point of view.
Results: In cases n. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 owners of dogs affected with CAD partial or full reimbursement from the seller obtained. In cases n. 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13, dog owners could not take any legal action because the diagnosis of CAD was made beyond the time limits required by law. In cases n. 1, 6, and 8, the owners decided not to take any legal action.
Conclusion: The veterinarian practitioner is a key professional figure not only for diagnosing the disease within the legal time limits, but also for support the owner in medico-legal disputes. A basic medico-legal background for all veterinarians and greater involvement of them in the sale of animals as a guarantee for the buyer is recommended.