I have a situtation with a family member and they have asked for guidance. I have my own thoughts on the way I would react and respond but would like input from others.
A person purchases a dog from a reputatable breeder with thoughts of participating in obedience/agility/bench shows. The breeder sucessfully shows in bench, has many performance titled dogs and does all the current health testing pertinent to the breed. Her dogs are sold on limited registration with spay/neuter agreement at 12 months of age. Contract allows for return of dog with genetic problems with a new puppy given or owner can keep dog and still receive another pup from a future breeding. Breeder allows person to choose between 3 pups. Others dogs already sold or are being kept by breeder.
When puppy is picked up at 8 1/2 weeks and taken home, they notice he has an odd toe on the rear paw. And he has very loose stools. An immediate Vet visit (same day) finds a ligament issue with toe (per Vet not new issue) and a heavy load of coccidia. Nothing to be done about toe and meds dispensed for coccidia. Person calls breeder to discuss toe and coccidia and it takes breeder 1 week to respond. Her response is that all puppies have coccidia and the toe must have been damaged on the ride home in the crate.
Fast forward several months. Puppy appears to be growing normally, doing well. Owner notices his decidious canines have not fallen out. Vet points out that he also has an overbite and it appears that he will have lance canines. A review of the purchase contract states that lance canines are the fault of the owner not insuring the decidious teeth come out in a timely manner. The Vet as well as many published studies (currently Missouri State University have a DNA study on lance canines) indicate that lance canines are genetic. Owner actually spoke with one of the Veterinary researchers and owner has provided blood and tissue samples for the study on lance canines.
Owner contacts breeder who tells owner that she is to blame for canines, the over shot jaw due to food dog is fed (which was the food recommended by breeder) and that she has never had a puppy with lance canines in 35 years of breeding. The new owner does not want to return dog, he is part of the family, and asks that they be placed on the list for another puppy in the future. Breeder states she is not going to get another puppy for free, that she does not feel she is responsible in any way. The breeder refuses to provide blood sample of her dogs for the University study.
Owner speaks with another puppy family from the same litter and discovers that this puppy also has lance canines and is overshot. This family was also told by breeder that she has no responsibility in this and owner has caused problem.
Puppy has surgery and has canines removed. He is recovering nicely.
Do you feel the breeder has meet her moral as well as legal obligation to owner? How would you as a breeder respond to this situation?
By the way, the breed is a Shetland Sheepdog. He is a cutie!
I won't comment on whether or not the breeder has met their moral/legal obligations since we don't have her side of the story. We also do not have a copy of the contract which should spell everything out.
I will say that once a puppy leaves my home, I no longer really have any influence over how that puppy is raised. I can only guarantee that the puppy was well and didn't have any known defects at the time it left here. Once it leaves here, it's up to the people raising the puppy to use common sense and I hope, my guidance, in raising the puppy to my specifications. Some do, some don't and I no longer will be responsible for anything that happens once the dog leaves here.
Again, we don't know what the contract states in regards to known genetic disorders. If the owner feels that the breeder didn't stand up to their contractual obligations, they are welcome to take that breeder to small claims court. They might be able to get the cost of the surgery back, but depending on the contract, they might have to give up the dog in return.
♣ Laura ♣
These are my thoughts:
The toe should have been checked when you picked the pup and I wouldn´t have taken him at that moment. The stomach problems seem to be common, puppies tend to munch on everything and at that age pickup deseases very easily. To me this is not a big issue.
the overshot bite... I don´t think any breeder will guarantee you that the puppy will be show quality as an adult. Reality is you don´t know until the dog is an adult. The lance theeth, wether genetic or not, were "excluded" in your contract so I don´t think there´s a case there, but I´m not a lawyer.
Conclusion: it is a pet dog, but the breeder doesn´t seem to be very good either.
It's a Catch 22 situation. I know good breeders that try to put everything in their contracts to cover their asses when puppy buyers come back complaining about the smallest of things. But in the end it seems that a guarantee is almost worthless. You pick a breeder, you get/pick a pup and you HOPE everything works out. Breeders have no control over what happens after a pup leaves. And for every Good breeder there is a Bad breeder in sheep's clothing. And for every GOOD puppy buyer, there is a BAD one also.
Toe? Should have been apparent when the pup was picked out. More care has to be paid to dogs with more coat. The folks should not have taken a dog home with an obvious problem.
Overbite? I don't know about other breeds, but I have seen vets identify overbites in lab puppies around 7 weeks. If other breeds are the same, this should have been found in the pup's first wellness exam BEFORE it went home. Would have removed it from the "show potential" list immediately. But like I said I don't know other breeds. But bites cam go off at any time. It's a chance anyone takes with a dog. Genetic or not.
Coccidia? Non issue.
My opinion, you bought a dog, he didn't turn out. You picked a lousy breeder. Lession learned. Fix what needs to be fixed on the pup and get over it. You aren't going to get any money out the breeder (moral obligations aside, they don't care, face it). Why the HELL would someone want ANOTHER puppy from the SAME breeder? That's a mistake waiting to happen.
If these folks had high hopes for a show pup, those are the lumps unfortunately. Spay the pup when appropriate for the breed. If they are in love with their family member, keep the pet and do performance. If showing was the real draw, sell the pup to a pet home and do better research for a better breeder. They are out there.
Neuter the dog and find a better breeder. The contract may not cover the problems but I think the breeder should be more willing to work with the owner. Kinda sad but it sounds like the breeder doesn't care about genetics issues in her dogs, small or not. I would never buy from a breeder this clueless. Saying the type of food fed the pup causes bite issues is crazy talk.
Your friend could sue in small claims court and win $ because the bite issue is genetic. Especially if you have proof from a littermate.
"Every boy should have two things: a dog, and a mother willing to let him have one"
Thanks for the input.
I told them they need to enjoy their puppy and put the rest behind them. The toe is not glaringly evident but once you have watched the little guy for a while, you can see it is somewhat flat. But it shouldn't cause him any problems whether he does obedience/agility or if he is simply a pet. The coccidia happens. Medicate and deal with it.
At 8 weeks when he was purchased, his bite looked great. At each Vet visit for vaccine boosters, his bite looked good. He still had his decidious teeth at the appropriate time and the breeder as well as the Vet told owner that when the adult canines began to come in, they would push out the decidious teeth. It was when the adult canines began to come in and looked odd that they took the pup into the Vet for an evalution. That was when the overshot jaw was noted as well as the teeth. Per the Vet, the jaw may develop normally in time, he is still a baby. The lance canines would never have moved into the correct spot therefore they did surgery. And the food he is fed is a non-issue. It is a good food and happens to be the food recommended by the breeder.
In all this puppy drama, I told the owner that the issue I would have was that the breeder refused to take part in trying to eliminate a genetic issue in the breed. She has bred a litter that has shown a link to the problem. There is a University study looking at the problem and is trying to establish a comprehensive DNA link. I would think that any genetic health issue that affects our breed, whatever the breed may be, if there is something we could do to help isolate and eliminate it, you would jump on the chance to help. It cost you nothing but your time to help better the breed.
I do also feel that the breeder should have been more communicative after contacted about the problems with the puppy. While many problems/questions may simply be a puppy owner with too much time on their hands and not enough education with some issues, in my experience with previous good breeders, they love to educate people on their breed. Enjoy sharing their vast experience as most Veterinarians have limited knowledge with individual breed nuances. A new Vet at my practice had no idea that GSD's could be "spinners", etc. BUT, I also realize some people are a pain in the butt. Every thought, every idea must be shared and explored and in the real world, people have limited time to pontificate with the anxious puppy owner.
And lastly, why in the world would you want another puppy from someone that you have had these difficulties? Move on, find a different breeder when you are ready to add a puppy.