As most of you know, I breed Miniature Australian Shepherds. I had bred the full sized aussies, then got into the minis. My health contract states, that I give a lifetime health guarentee agaist any gentic defect that will affect the dogs life. If one should arise, you can get a replacement and give the pup back. I let poeple know when they purchase a pup from me if the pup was to have a serious problem at a young age, I will refund the money. The refund it not written in my contract, becuase I am not sure how to write it. I have a hard time doing a refund and allowing the person to keep the pup, becuase I have been burned. How would I go about doing this and not get burned? I will explain, When I bred the big guys, I had a lady tell me that her dog had severe hip dysplasia, and would need surgery and maybe a hip replacement. She sent me a letter from her vet, and I said fine. I felt really bad, it was the first problem I had. I gave her a refund of the pup, and let her keep the dog. that was my contract back then. Several years later, I had seen the dog at a agility comp. She had sold the dog, and it never had a problem. So I changed my contract to having to give the dog back to me.
I do all my health testing, and I did back then also. Now I am trying to be a full time breeder, then I was just having fun. I show my dogs, and always a spay/nueter contract. If it is show breed quality, then I co-own.
I want to be the best and most fair breeder that I can, without getting myself screwed becuase of nasty people. I love doing the lifetime guarentee, becuase genetic problems like epilepsy and PRA can show up later then the 2yrs most people give. I want to write my contract in such a way that young dogs with problems get the refunds they deserve, but that someone with a 10yr dog that devolups hip problems doesn't get a full refund or brand new pup.
I hope I have made this clear, any advice would be greatly apprecated. I am looking for feedback for breeders, and the general public. Let me know what you would like to see and why.
Illusionminis, The best way I've found to give a guarantee, first of all, is not lifetime. My dogs can come up with a few things that are in the lines and can spring from generations back. The way I get around people like the one who stung you is, first my guarantee is 2 years, and if the dog should come down with something nasty, within that time, MY vet must agree with the buyer's vet as to the diagnosis. If you have someone come to you with a dog, and their vet tells you it needs expensive surgery, I would take the dog to my vet, and see what he said. Since I've never had this happen, but once on a pup with a luxating patella at 4 months, and I just refunded the owner's money because I felt responsible to do so. I did'nt have to, since I only guarantee juvenile cataracts, and hip dysplasia, but the age of the dog pointed at a genetic problem...to me The breed you have makes quite a difference, since many can develop problems down the road, through no fault of the breeder. That is why my guarantee is 2 years.
How about making it so that you have to have a second opinion from a vet of your choosing? That's what a lot of good breeders do. Also, for someone claiming hip dysplasia, I'd require that the results be submitted to OFA, since that way the x-rays would get the expert opinion of not 1, but 3 veterinarians who spend all their time looking at x-rays before being declared dysplastic.
Never trust a tall dwarf... he's lying about something.
I too believe a life time is excessive and ripe for abuse. It may look good on paper, but sooner or later, it will backfire on you. Most genetic stuff would show up in the first 2 years with the appropriate testing. However, many things are just part of normal aging, injuries, improper exercise, bad nutrition and other environmental causes which can be easily pined on bad genes by an incompetent or greedy vet years later.
Another safeguard against abuse and a fair way to handle refunds for covered health problems is by putting a clause in your contract that states that if the owner wishes to keep the dog, then you will pay for the required surgery, either in full or what ever predetermine amount (i.e. Up to purchased price), after it is performed. Or you could pay directly to the vet if necessary. This will assure you that the dog did indeed have a problem and was treated by a vet for it.
If I seem to have a superiority complex, it is because you make it so easy.
I dont think the lifetime is "ripe for abuse" I do think that the sick dog has to go back is a cop out, as few people are willing to part with their family member. The breeder we got tonka from has a lifetime guarantee, but like the others said the dog has to be seen by a vet of her choosing.
I also feel that a 2 year is BS as well, personally I would not buy from a breeder who offers less than 5 years.
I am a very small breeder who breeds very little.Every 3 to 4 years I have a litter.I keep 2 to 3 puppies and give the rest away to people on my waiting list.I might sell one puppy out of the litter. I breed titled and health tested dogs. I give no guarantee as no one can really guarantee that the dog wont come down with any of the health problems you have tested for.Plus some are not just genetic (what the person does with the dog after you sell it can effect hips/elbow). 3 or 4 years is a long time to wait for a replacement puppy.Plus if you did not pay for it,I have no money to give back. Even when I purchased a dog last year I did not expect a health guarantee.I knew the risk I was taking purhasing a puppy.
Ruffian,God forbid this ever happened, but picture this scenario. I sell a puppy to a seemingly lovely family. They agree to all my conditions, and take the dog home. They put the puppy under the front steps with 3 other starving flea infested, etc, dogs. That puppy receives no worming, other than what I have done, nor immunizations. They feed all the dogs sometimes, and always Mainstay or table scraps.The water is rarely changed, and often has a green tinge to it. The puppy is never allowed into the house, and has to sleep outside in the winter. What type of condition do you think a Boston Terrier, or any other dog, for that matter could be in as it turns 2? The minute these people tried to return this puppy to me, I'd keep it, they would never get another one, nor would they get a refund.
I agree with Minn and Ruffian, but I'm not a breeder. I think it's great that you stand behind your dogs and I hope you don't let one bad experience keep you from continuing to do so. Depending on the breed, 2 years seems kind of bare minimum to me. Pen's bostons are probably full grown by then, but my Rottie didn't stop growing until he was four. I personally don't like guarantees that require giving the pup back, but you're obviously willing to work things out at your own discretion, so I see no problem. I say offer a basic written guarantee that you feel confortable with and then tell puppy buyers that each case is different and you may be willing to make an exception, but it's completely up to you. You could also talk to an attorney about writing up a contract for you. I don't think the breeder or buyer can protect themselves 100% and sometimes you just have to trust people. I like Minn's idea about OFA and getting a second opinion. Even if the buyer lives far away you can look up vets in the directory, call around and find one you respect. You could also require the owner to have the neccessary procedure(s) done at their cost and then refund them (up to the purchase price) after you get proof. Honestly any kind of refund is better than returning the pup. I'm sorry you got screwed, but at least no one can make you out to be the bad guy in that situation. Out of curiousity, did you ever contact the vet that falsified the diagnosis? IMO, he is worse than the puppy buyer. Did the person that bought the dog know the original owner claimed it had HD?
Pen that is why your contract has to cover you as well, part of Tonkas says he has to have yearly vet visits, immunizations or titer test and wormings in order for his guarantee to be valid, if I have a problem with him, even now at 11, I have to prove that he has been properly taken care of, and been to a vet regularly. Depending on where you live you would add flea and tic preventative (we dont have them here) as well as heartworm preventative (again we dont have them). Some contracts I have read also have a minimum food requirement, although not many, not really sure how you enforce that one though.
Thank you everyone for your input. I am going to keep watching this for new peoples point of view. At the present moment, I am going to leave things they way they are. It allows me to decide on everything/anything I want to do. I know not everyone likes to keep a pup/dog with a major health problem. I help with poodle rescue, and I can't tell you how many idiots buy pet store puppies then want to give them up when something goes wrong. I will contact a lawyer and see what my rights are as well as buyer rights, and adjust my contract accordingly. Thank again for everyones opinion, and the love the OFA idea. I just can't see giving a limited guarentee when aussies have some things that can show up later. I might however modify my gurarentee to include a time frame for gentic disorders. Like o-3yr for hips/elbows/knees, and life for epilepsy and PRA.
Thanks again all, and I look forward to anything anyone else would like to say, or comments on the above.