Part 1 of “Responsible Breeders”: Contracts

Everyone who purchases a sheltie from me has to sign a contract. For me, the importance and places of emphasize in a contract has changed over the years from an emphasis on health, to an emphasis on taking the dog back should the new owner no longer be able to keep the dog. My contracts have always included both, it is just my understanding of which part is more important that has changed.

About a decade ago, when I spoke about “responsible breeding” and contracts, I would emphasize health. At that time, many breeders had blanket statements in their contracts stating, “this animal is guaranteed to be free of hereditary and congenital defects.” Over the years, this statement has changed because more and more Veterinarians were telling clients that some issue their dog was having was a “congenital defect” and breeders were realizing that guaranteeing a dog for everything under the sun was not within their control as a breeder. Dogs are living beings after all- they are not “genetically engineered”. If people understood how diseases were inherited, everyone (including people) would be healthy. Health issues ARE very important to breeders (yes, still), but as far as a Contract with the buyer went, guarantees became limited to only things that a breeder could have tested the parents for, and over all contracts now promise less.

Today I feel the strength of a contract is the part that states a breeder is willing to take a dog back. If you look at the Dog Laws At Large blog, you will see just how many states are proposing bills to limit the number of dogs a breeder can have, and the number of puppies a breeder can produce. The reason for these laws is that the HSUS has convinced the public that there is an “over population problem” and that dogs are being euthanized in shelters. PETA is attempting to convince the public that every time a purebred is bought, a shelter animal dies.

If you read my article, Where do pets come from, you know that dogs do not “come from” shelters. In my mind, what makes a breeder “responsible” is the fact that they care about each and every dog they produce and state in a CONTRACT that they will take the dog back, no questions asked, at any point in that dog’s life. I don’t think a breeder can get more “responsible” than that.

I have experienced the “irresponsible” buyer- the one who chooses not to follow the contract. I have had to track down a dog I bred and notify the new owner that I am the breeder of that dog and I DO care what happens to that dog. I have not seen any proposed laws for me- the breeder, to protect me if someone is "irresponsible" with my dog. I have been told by a lawyer that contracts, “aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”- but I don’t know what else a breeder can do other than have a signed contract. If more people (breeders as well as buyers) were responsible, HSUS would not have a leg to stand on.

Cool Design Shelties  – (March 20, 2009 at 2:15:00 PM PDT)  

""I have been told by a lawyer that contracts, “aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”- but I don’t know what else a breeder can do other than have a signed contract.""

We have the same problems in Denmark!! It does not help you - but I think it's a problem in the hole world!!


Acadia Shelties  – (March 20, 2009 at 3:22:00 PM PDT)  

Thanks Bente, I have a soft spot in my heart for Denmark, so I am sorry to hear the problem is the same over there too. I really think you are right- it is more likely a world-wide problem.

Anonymous –   – (March 22, 2009 at 12:04:00 PM PDT)  

You are a good Breeder. (Note that I capitalized the B.) You stand by your dogs, socialize the pups, follow how the pups are doing and want the pups back if there are problems. I unfortunately often see the results of breeders (note the small b) who happen to have two opposite gender dogs of roughly the same size. They then sell the pups for a lot of money and never talk with the new owners again. The pups are often not healthy and only have cute "breed" names such as Teacup Yorkiepoo. These are the people who cause problems for dog lovers and vets like me. These are the people who are giving good Breeders a bad name.

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