Want to purchase a puppy? Take precautions
Question: I saw an ad posted at a shopping center for a German shepherd puppy for sale for $500. The woman selling the puppy said this was her business and that she only accepted cash and to be sure to include tax. I paid $520, but did not get a receipt.
I took the puppy home and noticed she had an unusual walk -- her back legs were binding together -- but we thought it was just her cute way of walking since she was a puppy. However, by the time she was 5 months old, she began to limp, had trouble standing and was in pain sometimes.
Eventually, a lump appeared on her left hip. An X-ray showed she has a severe hereditary hip disease and the hip on her left side is dislocated. We paid for extensive and expensive testing and my dog will need to have surgery. I called the breeder and told her what I found. I asked if her dogs had been checked by X-ray and her answer was no.
Then she said, rudely, "I don't have to listen to this" and hung up. Can you put an article in the paper so people are made aware of this breeder?
Answer: You said you were seeking complete reimbursement from the breeder and indicated you were prepared to take her to Small Claims Court.
Another avenue is the state Office of Consumer Protection.
"All the facts associated with the sale are critical and would have to be examined," said Executive Director Stephen Levins. Call 587-3222 or go to http://www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/ocp/.
You can also file a complaint with the state Department of Taxation if you believe the tax charged may not have been passed onto the state.
Send your complaint to Edward Beal, Returns Classifying Officer, Department of Taxation, P.O. Box 259, Honolulu 96809.
However, under its confidentiality laws, "we cannot discuss that taxpayer with another taxpayer," Beal said. In other words, the department would not notify complainants of action taken, if any, unless it's a criminal action, he said.
Unfortunately, it appears you do not have anything in writing. Your case is a good example of how not to buy a dog.
We asked Gerri Cadiz, president of Hawaiian Kennel Club, editor and publisher of Ilio Dog Magazine, and member of the board of directors of the Hawaiian Humane Society, for advice when looking to buy a dog.
It turns out that anyone who owns a female dog and allows it to get impregnated becomes a "breeder," Cadiz said.
She provided us with a copy of "The Hawaiian Dog Fanciers Guide for Responsible Breeders," compiled by members of the American Kennel Club's local affiliates. It refers to AKC-registered dogs, but has guidelines that would be helpful when dealing with any breeder.
(The guide is free and available at the Hawaiian Humane Society, as well as Hawaiian Kennel Club shows at Blaisdell Center during the first weekend in March and September, and at the Pet Expo on May 12 and 13, Cadiz said. She'll also mail it to anyone who sends a self-addressed stamped envelope to 40A Kai One Place, Kailua, HI 96734.)
"Here in Hawaii we have over 50 AKC-recognized clubs," Cadiz said. "They are happy to share information."
She also said Ilio Dog Magazine has a list of all local clubs with contact numbers and a calendar of coming events. It can be purchased at most pet stores or the Humane Society for $5.
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Tips for dog buyers
» Research the breed; go to dog shows to see what a healthy adult dog looks like because "all puppies are cute and lovable. You're investing in a lifetime companion who may live for more than 15 years." Resist impulse buying.
» Always buy directly from a reputable breeder. Trust your gut. Ask lots of questions.
» Look at the dam and sire (mother and father) before choosing a puppy. Look at conditions under which the pup was raised.
» Ask for a pedigree (at least three generations). Ask for an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals number (regarding hip dysplasia), eye certification, shot records, and any other tests relevant to a specific breed. Don't accept "papers will come later."
» Be prepared to answer questions that the breeder might ask in regard to care of a puppy. A good breeder wants to be sure it is going to an appropriate home.
Source: Gerri Cadiz, president of the Hawaiian Kennel Club
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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