Vernon coronavirus cat case goes to court, buyer sued breeder for $2K | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon coronavirus cat case goes to court, buyer sued breeder for $2K

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Pamela Langevin
June 11, 2020 - 11:00 AM

A high-end Vernon cat breeder has been taken to court after the kitten she sold for $850 had to be euthanized because it caught feline coronavirus.

The cat's new owner Rebecca Reed, claimed breeder, Pamela Langevin, must have known the kitten named Dexter, had the virus. She took the issue to small claims court demanding $2,000 to cover the cost of Dexter, vet bills, and lost wages.

Langevin, who owns Majestic Pride Bengals, argued Dexter came with a 72-hour health guarantee and was in good health when he was sold. Langevin argued Dexter was diagnosed with feline coronavirus more than three weeks after he was purchased and therefore she was not responsible.

In the Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, June 8, Tribunal Member Chad McCarthy sided with the breeder.

"A reasonably durable pet is not necessarily immune to all communicable disease," McCarthy said in the decision. "A seller is powerless to prevent such disease once a pet is in a buyer’s possession."

While the novel coronavirus has grabbed the headlines recently it seems cats have been battling with their own version of the disease for years.

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, feline coronavirus often has no clinical signs but can in a small number of cases mutate and cause feline infectious peritonitis, which is almost always fatal. A vaccine has even been developed to combat the disease.

Langevin told she had been breeding Bengal cats for 20 years, had customers all around the world and had never had any problems.

"I put my heart and my soul into my animals," she said.

While Dexter was found to have feline coronavirus and put down, the small claims case focuses largely on whether the pricey cat's health issues were a breach of the sales warranty.

According to the decision, Rebecca Reed visited Pamela Langevin's cat breeding business in August 2019 and put a $200 deposit on Dexter. Included in the purchase, was another cat called Jasper that Langevin threw in for free.

A month later Reed visited Dexter at Langevin's place and reportedly was happy with her choice. However, the following month Reed visited again and was disappointed because Dexter "seemed small."

A couple of days later Langevin took both cats to the vet, who neutered them and said they were "bright and healthy" and gave them a clean bill of health.

On Oct.  12, 2019, both Dexter and Jasper were delivered to Reed although she reported that "the cats seemed small and were not very playful."

According to the decision, Jasper “improved” but Dexter did not. Nearly three weeks later Reed took Dexter to the vet and got a lab test. Samples confirmed Dexter had feline coronavirus. Reed then went to another vet for a second opinion but heard the same news.

The decision says up to 10 per cent of cats that have feline coronavirus will develop feline infection peritonitis, which is almost always fatal. Dexter's samples showed he had feline infection peritonitis. But there was no evidence the cat got it from Langevin and Langevin says she's never had feline infection peritonitis among her animals.

In the decision, Reed claims Dexter had feline coronavirus when she bought him, and Langevin should have known because he was losing weight. She also claims Dexter was never seen by a vet and that Jasper had feline coronavirus but recovered.

The Tribunal Member dismisses the allegations saying the evidence does not support the claims.

McCarthy says while the law states a person has the right to expect goods, including used items, will be durable for a reasonable period, the cat's health did not fail due to a "lack of durability."

Ultimately the Tribunal ruled Dexter was "durable" and in good health at the time of the purchase and Langevin had not misrepresented the cat's health.

The Tribunal dismissed Reed's claim completely.

— This story was updated at 2:19 p.m. June 12. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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