Breeder contracts and control
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  • First Basenji's

    This is a question that's been lurking in my mind for some time…

    So we know that a lot of responsible breeders stipulate in their contracts that they are to be contacted first and/or the dog is to be returned to them in the event that the owner can no longer keep the dog, for ANY reason.

    I have never purchased from a responsible breeder before, so I don't know the exact wording that is used. I've seen examples of this kind of clause, and I understand the logic behind it. A responsible breeder would be horrified to learn that any of their dogs were in need of rescue, and even more horrified to learn that any dog with their kennel name had ended up in a situation where their unspayed or unneutered dog was being exploited for breeding purposes.

    But it has been known to happen. Breeders who don't show or do any kind of health testing may boast about "champion lines," where the champion comes from several generations back. The "champions" mean very little if nothing has been done to ensure the health, temperament, and overall quality of the successive generations.

    My question is... does a breeder have any way of enforcing or following up on the contract if they ever found that they were NOT notified before a dog was given up? Or, say, if a pet was sold on a spay/neuter contract, and that didn't happen, and the dog was instead being used to purposely breed puppies for profit?

    We know that accidents can happen to perfectly nice people. And that perfectly nice people can also change their mind or even lie about their intentions. It does seem like some burden of responsibility is on the breeder to screen prospective buyers, to draft and to enforce a carefully-worded contract. But honestly, what recourse do they have if the contract is violated? Small claims court? It certainly doesn't seem like a criminal issue...

    Thoughts?

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  • IMO, when you are in the process of finding the right breeder, these things have to be discussed verbally, in addition to being written in a contract. But the most important thing that both parties need to establish is trust, based on the welfare of the dog. If you have any inkling the breeder would not take the dog back, don't do business with them.

    I also feel that if someone is a 'perfectly nice person', they stick with the agreements and contract. Yes, both parties could certainly go to small claims court - a contract is a legal document. I just feel all of this is avoidable with a breeder being selective as to who they sell their dogs to, and the new dog owner honoring their word and relationship with the breeder.

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  • I agree with Kipawa, I think the reason we don't hear stories is because it doesn't happen that much or if it does, the breeders don't follow up on it…some breeders have who adopt into a spay and neuter agreement don't hand over the papers until they have proof it has been done....and if not then the breeder flags that and decides to take action based on their "lack of action"....most of the time though it can be avoided by a breeder really getting to know their potential owners, people in it to lie don't want to take the time to build that relationship. All in my opinion though....

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  • I have taken back 4 dogs. Two the owners were over their head or had issues and asked me to help rehome. One I physically went to the person's house, got the dog, took pics and threatened with police action if the dog wasn't signed back over to me (we were co-owning), and one that broke the contract, had a 6 mo old who was becoming a danger and I insisted. They wouldn't take their money back, wanted another dog when they got their new house and office in it so they could be home. jThey got a pup from me a year later and did fine.

    The dog I placed with an experienced owner who came down from WV with her husband and spent time working with the stud owner training the dog… and we became a good friends and still are. He is now the last 2 living of the litter of 8... almost 13 and going strong. But the truth is, if you don't keep co-ownership, you had better have a lot of money to fight if they resist returning.

    Which is why I call my puppy people every week at first, every month, every couple of months, until the dogs are at least 2, then at least every 6 mos to a year for a couple of more years, then yearly unless they contact me. I make sure they know without any question that I won't judge or be mean, I will simply help them to rehome (my contract says I MUST approve of new home) or take the dog back. I have been lucky that only 2 dogs have had to be rehomed (one we put in the police program in NJ).

    You can write all the best of contracts, and mine was combed over by a lawyer... but the truth is, without the money to fight it, you don't have a lot of control. Good will is more important than money.

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  • Curlytails, this is an excellent question. I understand that there definitely is a difference between a "responsible breeder" and the "backyard breeder", puppymill, and petstore. While a responsible breeder will require a contract with a return clause/mandate, sadly, the other three definitely outnumber the responsible breeders by far.

    Like you, I've never seen a contract from a breeder, but to your question:

    My question is… does a breeder have any way of enforcing or following up on the contract if they ever found that they were NOT notified before a dog was given up? Or, say, if a pet was sold on a spay/neuter contract, and that didn't happen, and the dog was instead being used to purposely breed puppies for profit?

    I think it was a rescue group that took a dog from Ellen deGeneres when she lovingly gave it to a friend… even with all of her resources, Ellen could do nothing to get the dog back. So, I think that if a breeder would diligently follow every dog that was created within their control, and if they found that this dog was no longer with the original owner... I think the owner could pursue it, if desired. And if the breeder could afford a lawyer to pursue it, if desired.

    What I really admire about Basenji Rescue and Transport (aka BRAT), is that they not only require a background check for their dogs, they do a background check for the potential owners. They make sure that the new owners are financially and conscientiously responsible citizens, and that the veterinarians that know these potential owners consider the potential parents as "good parents". BRAT puts a contract out there that mandates you MUST return the dogs to them, no questions asked! And finally, BRAT will test these dogs for Fanconi so that the new owner has an idea of the future health costs, as well as microchipping them so that IF(not when, but IF, lol)... IF these basenjis would flee, there would be a lifeline for these basenjis to go home.
    _
    (I think of Bunny/Sophia, and while she didn't know it, she was definitely a benefit of BRAT. Kudos to BRAT to getting the word out, and to getting volunteers to help in her search… but I digress, lol. )_

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  • @Patty:

    And finally, BRAT will test these dogs for Fanconi so that the new owner has an idea of the future health costs,

    Has BRAT started doing the DNA test? Last time I checked they only did a strip test.

    _
    (I think of Bunny/Sophia, and while she didn't know it, she was definitely a benefit of BRAT. Kudos to BRAT to getting the word out, and to getting volunteers to help in her search… but I digress, lol. )_

    What happened to her? Wasn't she being fostered by someone on the forum?

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  • @Patty:

    they do a background check for the potential owners. They make sure that the new owners are financially and conscientiously responsible citizens, and that the veterinarians that know these potential owners consider the potential parents as "good parents". …And finally, BRAT will test these dogs for Fanconi so that the new owner has an idea of the future health costs, as well as microchipping them so that IF

    BRAT does not do actual financial or "background" checks. They do references, home visit and interviews.
    Nor does BRAT do Fanconi testing, they do strip testing. I thoroughly and completely disagree with this but at some point you have to look at the big picture, know when you can't make a change and move on.
    Nor does BRAT do microchipping. Some foster homes, such as Pam in FL and I, do microchip on our own. (the chip, the new owner must submit)

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  • @Patty:

    And finally, BRAT will test these dogs for Fanconi so that the new owner has an idea of the future health

    BRAT does NOT test for Fanconi. They do strip testing for urine glucose which is not the same. It will just say whether dog on THAT DAY is spilling sugar and does not give any idea about future health.

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  • Thanks everyone for clarifying what BRAT does/doesn't do… I'm not a member of BRAT, but an admirer of the organization, so my apologies for mis-speaking about what they do... I should have pasted this from their website:

    BRAT adopters receive a dog that has been spayed or neutered ($150-$400, depending on location), fully vaccinated and strip-tested for heartworm and Fanconi (negative unless otherwise noted), and temperament evaluated. In addition, BRAT provides free lifetime post-adoption counseling to help deal with behavioral issues. Finally, we provide a free lifetime identification tag connected to our "lost dog" toll free number.

    And Robyn, Bunny/Sophia was happily reunited with her owners. :)

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  • BRAT, since they do not do DNA testing for various reasons (however, I agree it should be done, but another discussion)…. they should put in their information that it is recommended that it be done and how it is done.

    And I don't know if this has changed, but years ago BRAT would side with owners wanting to give up their dogs and not contact the breeders because the owners didn't want the dog to go into a kennel situation. Many (not me) responsible breeders have kennel situations for their dogs. They have the room to do so and have very nice kennels. Regardless if you believe that dogs/Basenjis should be in a kennel situation (remember here, I am not saying a puppymill situation) is a personal preference. If you have a contract with a breeder that the dog goes back to them, then you have to accept the kennel situation.

    Sometimes people lose the contact information of their breeders and sometimes they really don't believe that a responsible breeder will take back the dog regardless of the age.... and just start searching the internet and find BRAT. BRAT in the last number of years has been very good about trying to find the breeder.....

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  • @tanza:

    And I don't know if this has changed, but years ago BRAT would side with owners wanting to give up their dogs and not contact the breeders because the owners didn't want the dog to go into a kennel situation.
    BRAT in the last number of years has been very good about trying to find the breeder.....

    I have only been involved with BRAT for the last 8 years. I don't know how long ago you mean but they have bent over backwards the entire time I have been here to find owners... even going so far as to contact stud/dam owners 2 and 3 generations back to try to track the breeder. I know for a fact that there are BCOA breeders who REFUSE to take back their dogs. Another issue I disagree with BRAT on is that these owners should be outed.
    I know several Rottie clubs that kick a member out if they refuse to take back their dogs. I think it should be EVERY club. It is despicable. We have had a few breeders who could not, but they helped pay for costs and helped BRAT to find new homes. But those who are not so sick or in such horrible shape, still breeding!, and refuse... they should take out ads on every Basenji publication, every message board and every list. To see a couple of these people touted (one on here) as responsible makes me sick but I'd get kicked out of BRAT if I revealed who they are.

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  • Like I said it was a while ago…. and I know that they try and find the breeders, however these were a couple of cases that the breeder was willing to take their dogs back, owners had a fit because it would be in a kennel situation.....

    But as they say, takes all kinds.... and I think BRAT does a good job for both owners that need to place their pups and breeders who want their dogs back.

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  • @Patty:

    And Robyn, Bunny/Sophia was happily reunited with her owners. :)

    Her breeder was her owner prior to being fostered for BRAT. Did she go back to the breeder?

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  • First Basenji's

    Debra, I like your system for managing the owner-breeder contract. It sounds like a lot of work! But raising and selling puppies isn't supposed to be easy. And of course, if one doesn't "overproduce," it's possible to keep up.

    Thanks everyone for clarifying BRAT's role. I'm pretty sure that somewhere on their site, they insisted that decisions are made on a "financially-blind" basis, but they DO take into account the whole picture, including home visits. We had an application on file with BRAT before we adopted Bowpi off Craigslist. In our situation for example, I knew it was a "strike" against me that I'm a grad student making grad student wages. But not because I didn't make enough money on paper (though we had a lot going for us as a forever home that I made sure to outline in my application). At the end of the day, when there are multiple families putting in applications for one dog, somebody else will probably appear to be in a more stable, and thus potentially successful situation. I understood that going in, and that it could take a long time for just the right opportunity came up… it did take about a year and a half of looking for us to finally chance upon Bowpi.

    I digress. The point is that BRAT, like responsible breeders, provide a lifetime "safety net" for the dog. But I guess this does require the owner to honor the contract on their end. I just don't understand why this doesn't always happen. Owners feel embarrassed that they have to give up their dog? They find it more "convenient" to rehome the dog themselves? Could it possibly be that the matter of a few hundred dollar's "rehoming fee" makes that much of a difference to them, financially? I'm assuming that even responsible breeders are not obligated to refund any money after some time. The guarantee is not about money (though it may take money to enforce it), but to help ensure peace of mind. That's the shared priority for breeders and owners alike -- never having to wonder or doubt if the dog is okay.

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  • @YodelDogs:

    Her breeder was her owner prior to being fostered for BRAT. Did she go back to the breeder?

    Robyn, there have been several recent posts about Bunny and the search for her when she ran away.

    The main thread can be found here. Do a search for "Bunny" or for the user name "greg p" and you'll come up with some of the other threads concerning Bunny. (Be sure to have a box of kleenex handy!)

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  • @curlytails:

    I just don't understand why this doesn't always happen. Owners feel embarrassed that they have to give up their dog? They find it more "convenient" to rehome the dog themselves? Could it possibly be that the matter of a few hundred dollar's "rehoming fee" makes that much of a difference to them, financially?

    I think for many it the the embarrassment. Or they just forget about the contract and that they were supposed to contact the breeder.

    I know from experience that alot of owners feel bad about contacting the breeder when they are having issues with their puppy or dog. I guess they feel like they should be able to handle it and admitting they can't would be like admitting they aren't the right home. I don't know but I do know that many wait until what started as a small issue has snowballed into a much larger one. I recently had a visit with a puppy owner because my mom felt that though the owners said everything was okay they would say they were just dealing with a few small issues and didn't say what they were. It made her feel like we should visit and see what was going on so that things didn't turn into big problems. I am glad we went and visited and I think that they needed a little targeted advice and it is always nice to visit with my pups in their homes. It is also good for the owners to hear that they don't have bad dogs, just typical basenjis being basenjis. Again, it comes back to pre-placement screening and having a relationship with the new owners that makes them comfortable contacting you for anything.

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  • @tanza:

    Sometimes people lose the contact information of their breeders and sometimes they really don't believe that a responsible breeder will take back the dog regardless of the age…. and just start searching the internet and find BRAT. BRAT in the last number of years has been very good about trying to find the breeder.....

    A couple of years ago, I got a phone message from someone who had obtained a puppy from me a few years prior. The couple had a baby and everything was ok until the baby started walking. The male, whom they had before they got the female pup from me, was growling at the child and had started snapping. The couple had taught their baby to be gentle with dogs and they never, ever left them unsupervised. The female started growling at the child too. The owners were distraught and made the decision to rehome the dogs. They contacted BRAT and I both on the same day. (They didn't think I really meant the part in my contract about taking a dog back for any reason, any time and that is why they contacted BRAT too.)

    Arrangements were being made for me to take the female back and the male went into a BRAT foster home. Unfortunately, both dogs ended up having severe separation anxiety. After quite a few three-way conversations with a BRAT representative, the owners, and myself we decided that it was in the dogs' best interest to be rehomed together. The owners and I agreed to let BRAT take both and they did end up being adopted together.

    The BRAT representative was very supportive to the owners and myself and I commend her for her willingness to work with us to figure out what was best for the dogs. That was the only dog of my breeding that has ever gone through rescue but if they ever have one come in they know I will be there.

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  • Wow Robyn, your story gave me goose bumps… it's nice to hear stories where things work as they should.

    When someone rescues a dog through BRAT, I'm under the impression that they are required to sign a contract... is that true? I also thought that if you ever wanted to get rid of your BRAT basenji, that it must be returned to BRAT... again, can someone clarify that for me? I don't see a contract on the BRAT's website.

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  • N

    My Aries was bred by Linda Ehlers. She was retired and rehomed after she finished and had 3 litters.

    There was a return clause in the contract. Well, the home sent Aries into a rescue. I found her on Petfinder, and contacted the BBR list, where someone identified her as Linda's. Linda was horrified, and was able to use the return clause in the contract to get the rescue to return Aries.

    Aries flew through Chicago, and we picked her up, and decided to keep her, however there is a return clause in our contract with Linda, and Linda kept a co-ownership so she will never loose track of Aries again.

    -Nicole

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  • Even I, a brat volunteer, had to sign a contract to get Cara… and have a home visit. LOL .. which I laughed about because all the home visits I have done in my life it was the first one for ME and I got to appreciate the stress from the other side.

    Actually, you must contact BRAT. Trust me, if something happened to me, BRAT would not have an issue with either of my backup homes taking Cara... they'd just have to sign a contract. The contracts are to protect the dogs, but if you have reliable backup homes, BRAT will be happy to check and approve.

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  • Brat does an excellent job. I got one of my puppies back from a BRAT volunteer when she was found in a no kill shelter in PA. Her owner had been killed in a logging accident and his family was not able to find her paperwork indicating where she had come from so they turned the 4 yr old girl in to a local shelter. This was 20 yrs ago before it as easy to contact via the internet etc. I was happy to get Katie back and she lived to almost 15 with us.

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