Puppy Contracts – Are they worth the paper they are written on ?

We got the following email through the site last week, and the sender asked for my opinion on a few issues.

“Just wondering if you had any advice on a situation I have. I recently contacted the owners of a pup I sold last year just to wish the pup happy birthday and see how she is getting on. They sent me photos and said she was great (this was two weeks ago). This morning the owner rang me and said they were having problems with her being aggressive. She has bitten the postman before and more recently she has bitten the Tesco delivery man. When speaking to their neighbours they told them about her biting the Tesco man and the neighbour apparently said “well I didn’t like to tell you but she has bitten my young son twice over the last few months”

Now the person that sent this is a very responsible breeder, and as you can see has kept in contact with the family that was screened before they were passed as acceptable for a pending puppy.

After deciding between them that the best course of action would be for the dog in question to be returned to the breeder, along with a list of other questions the author of the email asks “Can you advise me whether I would be expected to return some of the money they paid me? – What’s your line on this ?

Now as a lot of readers of this blog will know, I have only bred one litter in all my years of involvement with dogs, and from the resulting 3 pups ended up keeping 2 of them. Dora, who after 4 years is still the screen saver on my wife’s mobile phone, was sold to a fantastic family, and a puppy contract was signed.

Point # 7 of the contract I drafted states “If the purchaser is unable to keep the pup in their care for any reason they will contact the breeder in the first instance and return the dog to the breeder”

If I was going to breed a litter again in the future, maybe this point should be expanded upon, where it might state that a refund would or would not be given.

Earlier this year the RSPCA drafted a Puppy Contract which is very detailed and regarding the above they state “He / She will contact the seller and have regard to any advise and recommendations that the seller provides”

Much earlier than this, in 2004 The Kennel Club made it mandatory for all Kennel Club Assured Breeders to provide a puppy contract and information pack to ensure that the new owner fully understands the commitment that they are undertaking when bringing a new puppy into their own home.

Having said all this, are these type contracts actually worth the paper they are written on ? Dora was sold with an endorsement on her Irish Kennel Club papers, whereby if she were to be bred from, we would have to be contacted, and if we agreed with the planned mating would lift the endorsement. If we didn’t lift it and the mating went ahead, the resulting offspring could not be registered with the Kennel Club. We think this is the responsible thing to do, and should be encouraged and not be penalised by way of extra charges. Thankfully we have had nothing to worry about, as Dora was neutered by the new owners.

Recently I seen a post on one of the social networks whereby a breeder was letting off some steam due to the fact that the endorsement that they had paid for to be added to one of their pups papers, had been lifted by the relevant Kennel Club, and the dog was mated and the resulting pups were allowed to be registered.

Seemingly, under certain circumstances this can be the case ?

If endorsements can be lifted without the consent of the person that placed them, how effective is your puppy contract going to be ?

I for one still think that the puppy contract serves a purpose, as even though eventually it might prove to be as useful as a one legged man at an ass kicking competition, it does get the purchaser to take one final look at the responsibility they are about to take on, and once signed you’d hope that the person signing it abides by the rules, after all a man is only as good as his word.