A Story by Tuula's Mom: Amy
(Please note: The layout for this story may not be phone screen friendly.)
Tuula's Registered Name: Rednettle MistyTrails Tuula
Birthdate: September 17, 2017
Registered name of her Sire: Misty’NRedNet Cheeky Chocolate
Birthdate: Oct 28, 2016
(Please note that Tulla’s litter was bred in July 2017. This means that Tuula’s Sire was only 9 months of age when he was bred for this litter. The only health testing that had been done on him at that time was ‘eyes’ as noted in his OFA Testing Resultsat https://www.ofa.org/advanced-search?f=sr&appnum=1896550)
Registered name of her Dam: RedNettle’s Chin Chin
Birthdate: May 15, 2015
(Please note that OFA Testing for Tuula’s Dam when Tuula’s litter was bred, shows eyes as well as patella and cardiac (by practitioner only) at https://www.ofa.org/advanced-search?f=sr&appnum=1800878)
In Sept 2017 we started the search for a second fur baby. Our beloved lab was 11 years old and we wanted to add another dog to our family in his golden years.
By October 2017, we determined the most suitable breed for our family would be a Havanese. We loved that Havanese were non/low shedding, as well as the size and personality. They are such delightful little dogs!
Like many people, we researched breeders in our area. We assumed a reputable source of breeders would be the Canadian Kennel Club. We phoned a breeder from this list who lived in our area however, she didn’t have adult dogs available for adoption. An adult dog was our first preference.
This first breeder recommended checking with another Havanese breeder on Vancouver Island. The Vancouver Island breeder didn’t have any adult Havanese dogs available either, so we started to consider a puppy. We visited this breeder’s website which proudly stated that her puppies are kitchen raised, potty trained and crate trained when they go to their forever homes. Also highlighted was the health testing that each puppy receives. This all sounded great!
Below are portions of the breeder’s website endorsing their breeding program:
Purple typing is used to highlight the grey (or other colour) screenshots:
One of the most remarkable breeding programs in North America!
Adults live in family homes not in kennels. All pups are kitchen raised, potty trained, and going outside by 7 weeks. They are crate trained to assist in separation and are socialized according to research to give the pups the best start in life. Vet files are all open to the public, as are multiple vet's certifications and multiple references.
Pups are ready for adoption after 9 weeks.
Pups that leave are guaranteed and come with 6 weeks of complimentary CKC pet insurance.
Puppies have FULL vet EXAM, CKC tattooed pr microchip'd, and guaranteed.
First shots and wormed.
Can. complimentary Pet insured.
The above has also given me the privilege of understanding what the public wants. They want a WELL socialized- well adjusted. Well Raised . Well Bred for longevity, companion pet with minimal to no health issues. from a breeder that has high goals. is ETHICAL fair, honest and approachable. and always there, even atfter they get their puppy for support. A breeder that welcomes them to visit puppies as often as they like and ask as many questions as they want.
After a conversation on the phone with the breeder and several emails back and forth, we decided to travel to Vancouver Island to meet the breeder and the parents of the puppy we were thinking of purchasing.
It should be noted that we researched “what to ask” the breeder (as clearly outlined on Animal Rights website such as the SPCA) and diligently went about asking the list of questions that were suggested. This
is when the “red flags” started to crop up. Our mistake was not heeding them. I asked about the breeder’s breeding program. She responded by letting me know that her puppies are raised in a variety of homes. This breeder highlighted that her “elite team” of breeding partners together create her breeding program.
"When it comes to our reputations, and Havanese breeding program, quality is NOT negotiable. To work with the Elite team, Health Testing must not just be done, but certified - shared and posted public. Vet files must be open. Pups must be well-socializedand not raised in the basement or barn."
As well, I contacted the vet the breeder said she used and asked the suggested questions. He answered my questions however emphasized that he couldn’t comment on the condition of the breeding team homes as he has not visited any of them. At the time I didn’t think much of this response; however, in hindsight, I wondered if this comment may have been meant to tell me something.
The day we travelled to Vancouver Island to meet our potential puppy was one of the strangest of my life. We first went to the home of one of the breeding team members to meet the mother and her puppies (one of which we were considering). We drove quite a way down winding dirt roads and a long driveway to a very remote home. We were met by a very nice lady who invited us in. Once inside we were introduced to the adorable black puppies. The lady answered all our questions politely. We asked to be introduced to the mother of the puppies. The mom looked very matted and was quite timid in demeanor. We tried to touch the mother dog however she backed away. We questioned this behaviour and were told it was because she was a new mom and was nervous. As we drove away from the breeder’s home I had the worst feeling (2nd red flag!) but I just chalked it up to being new to the puppy buying process. Maybe this is what puppy breeders are like? Maybe I’m just overthinking things?
Then we travelled another hour to the main breeder’s home to meet the father of our potential puppy. The breeder introduced the father who was very interactive. The breeder answered our questions. Yet, again, I felt something wasn’t quite right but couldn’t put my finger on it.
A few days later we received a call from the breeder stating that another puppy from an earlier litter from different parents had become available. The breeder said she felt this pup would be a better match for us than the initial puppy we were considering. This was VERY confusing and frustrating as we had just made the commitment of time and money to visit the puppy we thought we were going to purchase. We asked why we weren’t offered the opportunity to meet this puppy when we were there a few days previous and the breeder stated that it wasn’t available at that time because someone else had previously put a deposit down for her. It was further explained that they couldn’t reach the person who had put a deposit down and therefore the puppy was now available. We decided to consult our dog trainer about this matter. She agreed that this was very unusual but that there are times when a breeder will select the puppy for a family. After much consideration, and trusting the breeder’s recommendation, we decided to proceed and purchase the second puppy they were suggesting.
The weeks leading up to bringing our puppy home were riddled with multiple and often confusing emails from the breeder. We were initially told that we needed to provide a deposit of $250 and that the total purchase price was $2800. We assumed that the $250 would be deducted from the total purchase price, however, this wasn’t the case. The story changed when it was time to pay the purchase price and the $250 was now not a deposit toward the purchase price, but rather, an amount (in addition to the purchase price) that the purchaser is to be refunded once there is proof of spaying. As we were just about to pick up our new fur baby we decided not to make an issue of this. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning!
The breeder offered to drive the pup to the lower mainland while over here for other business for the price of $100. She arrived late and explained that she was doing some Christmas shopping at a nearby mall. This meant that our puppy was crated in a cold dark vehicle while she ran personal errands. Seemed unusual, I must say. She quickly had us sign the contract and left. An important portion of the contract was the following:
So naturally, we thought we were purchasing a healthy puppy.
Tuula - 9 Weeks
As recommended by the breeder, we activated the 1 month free of Trupanion Insurance (part of the purchase price of puppy) and took our sweet little puppy to the vet the morning after bringing her home. We had a routine initial vet exam and the vet stated she felt Tuula was healthy. It did not seem necessary to have blood work done as we were contractually assured that our new puppy was health tested. As mentioned earlier we had an 11 year old lab who was extremely healthy his whole life until his advanced age. Given this past experience, and the assurance from the breeder that our puppy was healthy, we discontinued the Trupanion insurance after 1 month. Looking back, we regret not keeping the insurance as we certainly could have utilized it however given our positive previous experience with our lab (a healthy dog!) we didn’t feel the need to incur this additional expense.
Tuula - 12 Weeks
Tuula next to her new buddy, Merlin
The next few months were a learning curve for us as it is with any family with a new puppy. We commenced puppy classes and hired a trainer to assist us with potty training, leash training etc (Potty training was a challenge from the outset. We were consistent and followed all recommendations given, but our pup was still challenged in this area). We were instructed to crate (in crate the correct size for her) our puppy during times that we couldn’t supervise her. We did this consistently, however, she would potty in her crate. This is something we discovered later is not typical for puppies! We also had ongoing issues with our puppy not wanting to eat. She would frequently refuse food and this was very concerning to us. We visited the vet often to explore possible reasons for this. Given that our puppy was a small dog and they are known to be picky eaters, we chalked it up to “this is normal for our puppy” and that she would outgrow this habit. Along with refusing to eat our puppy would have bouts of vomiting. Again, we visited our vet. Since the bouts of vomiting were not continual it wasn’t thought to be serious.
Tuula - 12 weeks
Because of Tuula’s ongoing health issues the date for her spaying was postponed on our Vet’s recommendation. We eventually had her spayed (in accordance to the breeder contract timeline) on April 17, 2018.
I emailed a copy of spaying documentation to the breeder on May 7, 2018. I followed up with the breeder regarding this matter on June 11, 2019 and again on August 15, 2018. By August 24, 2018 we received an email from a third party (on breeder’s behalf) who said that she had not received the spay documentation within the required timeline and that she had donated the $250 (that should have been returned to me) to charity.
Please note that all emails are colour-coded:
Red - my/our emails (Tuula's mom and dad)
Purple - Breeder's emails
Green - Third Party representative of the Breeder.
Below is a portion of the email I received from the third-party person on August 24, 2018.
"I believe the accountants notes indicate that your refund was expired.
I will double-check on Monday when they open.
"A valid spay/neuter certificate (Page 5 of this agreement) Must be received by the deadline set by the breeder (on or before that set date). Ot the deposit will be forwarded to breed rescue, or a dog event (no exceptions...except with PRIOR written permission email from 'Breeder - named', and your veterinarian's request ) One day late is considered expired, unless you let us know, as we cannot donate the funds and then ask for the, back."
We attempted to appeal to her sense of compassion, as well as offered to show verification from the vet, given our puppy’s health problems however, she repeatedly stated that we didn’t notify her about the need to reschedule the spaying date and that she simply would NOT reconsider her decision. We were surprised and disappointed by the breeder’s lack of empathy and unwillingness to refund us our “deposit.”
In Sept 2018, we returned from a short road trip and our puppy was vomiting and refusing all food. By this point the vet decided that further exploration was needed. We decided, in spite of the very high cost, to have bloodwork and an ultrasound done. These tests revealed that our puppy had liver disease. At the time our older dog, now 12 years old, had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We were coping with the knowledge that we wouldn’t have him for much longer. It was a horrible time in our lives, seeing our older dog sick with an aggressive cancer, and now our new pup, who we hoped to be with us for many years, had just been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening, or at the very least, life-shortening illness.
Our older dog passed away 2 weeks after our puppy’s diagnosis. We were still reeling with his loss when we needed to determine the best course of treatment for our puppy. At this point we notified the breeder, feeling she would want to know that this genetic problem has been found in one of her puppies. We also thought that perhaps she should reconsider using our puppies’ parents within her breeding program. We emailed the breeder and provided a letter from our vet stating that she believed that our puppy had the clinical signs of a portosystemic shunt (liver shunt). At this time our vet told us that this condition was congenital.
Initially the breeder seemed sympathetic however her tone quickly changed to repeated questioning of what we fed our puppy and questioning of our vet’s preliminary diagnostic conclusions. The breeder suggested that it was the diet we had our puppy on that could be causing her medical issues. We were reassured by our vet that the condition that Tuula had was congenital and was not in any way caused by anything we did (e.g. food we fed her etc.). We requested a refund from the breeder however she would not provide a refund until more tests had been completed – liver biopsy, bloodwork and ultrasound.
From: Breeder <*********@*******.com>
Date: Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 2:58 PM
Subject: Re: ATTENTION: ***IMPORTANT*** REFUND REQUESTED
To: *************, Amy <Amy@**************.ca>
Yes , A refund will be considered, once all of the testing is complete, we will review with our Vets and refund an amount mutually decided on by all.
From: Breeder <********@***********.com>
Date: Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 4:54 PM
Subject: Re: Tuula's lab work
To: ************, Amy <Amy@************.ca>
we need a diagnosis.
When you get a diagnosis. please forward.
WE are reviewing all. and see the Vet next week.
My hope, and talking to other breeders, is this could be diet caused, and I am hoping it can be turned around.
I am hoping it is not Genetic and hereditary, we need to know this.
Congenital happens. and we still cover it.
but Acquired, we do not cover.
Our vet referred us to an Internal Medicine Consultant/Specialist. Our puppy underwent further testing (another ultrasound/more blood work etc), consults with the specialists and a liver biopsy. These tests were done to determine if Tuula had additional medical issues as well as to determine the best course of treatment for her.
Tuula - 1 yr old, recovering from liver biopsy
Tuula - 1 yr old, recovering from liver biopsy
The completion of tests and medical procedures took almost 4 months and over $5000 to accomplish. Once the biopsy results were back (January 2019) it was conclusively determined that Tuula was born with a liver problem. Below is a portion of the post-diagnostic email confirmation from our specialist:
“Bottom-line Tuula was born with an abnormal liver that affects her health and may affect her lifespan. You did not get a healthy dog. This should be the reason for a refund of what you paid for a healthy dog in my opinion.”
When I received the final diagnostic report we forwarded it to the breeder. The breeder had a third party respond to my email and within a day we received an approximately 70% refund. We thanked them for this however reminded them that we requested a FULL refund along with a refund for the $250 “deposit” for the spaying fee. Considering the immense cost we had just incurred , the early challenges with pottying and feedings since we first brought the pup home, the ongoing costs we would be incurring for the rest of our pup’s life, plus the unusual circumstances of a last-minute switch in recommendations of puppies, why would a reputable breeder not consider a full refund? Even out of compassion in exceptional circumstances. And even more so given that we did not receive a refund for the spaying deposit, even though we fully complied with veterinary advice to delay due to dog’s illness.
We had not asked her to help with any of the additional costs of diagnosis or treatment. Simply a refund of what we paid would have demonstrated a reasonable measure of compensation given the situation. To us, as experienced business people, this was not an unreasonable request.
Jan 5, 2019: Received 70% refund for purchase price of puppy. Nothing returned for spaying fee. The third party asked again about what we had fed our puppy. This was perplexing as it was already established that the diet fed our puppy had no connection to her congenital liver disease!
Jan 6, 2019: Below in green is an email I received on Jan 6, 2019 from the third party person speaking on the breeders behalf because she was away. Again, this person asked about the food we fed Tuula and tried to explain that a portion of the purchase price is non-refundable as it covered raising, registering, crate training (not done), vaccinations, etc. This was not explicitly outlined in the contract we signed nor was this ever explained to us verbally. It felt like they were making excuses. As far as we are concerned the purchase price was the purchase price.
Given the extraordinary situation with our puppy we would expect a reputable, caring breeder to happily refund us as a small gesture of goodwill however this isn’t your ordinary “breeder!” The writer of this email also had the audacity to minimize our puppy’s potentially life-threatening liver disease by stating that it seems like “she is doing well, and is not critical.” It’s NOT critical, are you kidding me! Our dog has been diagnosed with a VERY serious condition and her life span is almost certainly going to be affected! Our family has spent thousands of dollars caring for our sweet girl...We definitely feel our puppy’s situation is critical!!!
Date: Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 11:24 AM
Subject: thankyou for your patience.
To: Cocking, Amy <Amy@**********.ca>
**** will look into this when she arrives home.
$$1500-2000 is the base price for all dogs, and the $500 is for Raising, registering, crate training, vaccinations, wormings, Tattoo, and all that is done, extra from 7-9 weeks.
That part is usually not refundable, unless you return the dog or the dog passes.
Does your contract state, refund upon return of the dog. ?
MOST people do not want to return the dog, and It is not a requirement, but it will lower the refund.
Again, I am not sure, of your case, I did read the report, and it sounds like she is doing well, and is not critical.
*** will make a decision after she can have all the reports, discussed with our 4 vets.
We do need the list of foods that she was on, for the first year of her life, and any treats, as we log those in a file, prior to seeing the vet.
please and thankyou.
Jan 12, 2019: It took some time to compile Tuula’s complete vet file. While compiling the requested documentation we received the following email from the breeder’s third party. To us it seemed like a bullying tactic.
Date: Sat, Jan 12, 2019 at 8:09 AM
Subject: (No subject header)
This file is now closed Until we receive Tuula’s. Entire vet file. It needs to go to us and our vets. This is standard. Not just the specialist reports but her files from date of adoption. If this has been sent. We do not have it. Did not receive it. Please resend.
Jan 13, 2019: We emailed Tuula’s complete medical files to breeder.
From: *******, Amy<Amy@*********.ca>
Date: Sun, Jan 13, 2019 at 8:09 PM
Subject: Tuula's Complete Files
As per your email from ********@*******.com I am attaching
Tuula's complete medical files.
Please confirm that you have received them.
Jan 14, 2019: We resent the complete vet file as we hadn’t heard from the breeder. There was no confirmation of receipt of the email or files. Unfortunately, we received the following message. By this point we felt that it was important to mail hard copies of the complete vet file (via registered mail) as we had no faith that the breeder had received or reviewed the medical files via email.
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 12:30 PM
Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)
Recipient inbox full
Your message couldn't be delivered to ******@******.com. Their inbox is full, or it's getting too much mail right now.
Jan 22, 2019: By Jan 22, 2019 we had not received any response to our multiple emails and requests so we emailed the following to the breeder again.
From: *******, Amy<Amy@*********.ca>
Date: Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 7:51 PM
Subject: Havanese refund
Hi ****** (breeder)..
Thanks again for the partial reimbursement of Tuula's purchase price.
We have provided all documentation that was requested of us including Tuula's complete medical file and diagnostic report.
Tuula's diagnosis is conclusive and it's very clear that it's congenital. She was born with this condition as outlined in Tuula's diagnostic report written December 19, 2018 by Dr. ***** ******* (Board Certified Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine).
We kindly request that you please reimburse us the remaining $800 of the purchase price as well as the spay fee of $250.
We have incurred thousands of dollars in vet bills and will continue to incur vet bills as we provide the best possible care for Tuula. Tuula has an undefined life span because of her congenital disorder. We just lost our 12 yr old lab in Sept 2018 and now face the uncertainty of not knowing how long Tuula will be with us. We are simply asking for the remaining amount of the purchase price+ the $250 spay fee to assist us in paying inevitable upcoming vet bills.
******* (name of breeder) openly promotes the health testing of the breeding dogs within its breeding program (as seen below). This leads a potential buyer to assume they are purchasing a healthy dog. Screen cap of the breeder’s website info is included below.
In addition to the website's health claims, the contract we signed with ********* stated we were purchasing a healthy dog and that our dog was guaranteed against Life Threatening Genetic diseases (See below). Tuula has a life-threatening disease.
The pup comes with a 100% veterinary medical checkup, assuring that he/she is healthy.
This pup is guaranteed against Life-threatening Genetic diseases.
We would like to resolve this issue amicably and would greatly appreciate your cooperation to this end.
Please respond and refund as per our request within the next 24hrs.
Feb 6, 2019: My husband and I made one last attempt to communicate with the breeder:
From: *******, Amy<Amy@********.ca>
Date: Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 11:36 PM
To: Breeder <*******@********.com>
******** here, Amy's husband.
I have reviewed the email dialogues between you and Amy regarding Tuula, all documentation, and naturally have been aware of details over the past months.
We would ask please for a refund of the remaining $1,050.00 as detailed below.
We feel we have complied with all reasonable requests for both:
● a full refund of Tuula's purchase price of of $2,800
● a refund of the spaying deposit of $250
The $1,050 total is made up of the remaining $800 to complete the refund of her full purchase price, as well as the $250 for the spaying deposit. Tuula was spayed at the safest & earliest possible time that the vet felt she was healthy enough to undergo this surgery.
Upon receiving the remainder of the refund, as well as verification of registration of our full ownership of Tuula, this email will serve as confirmation that we will be keeping Tuula, and paying all medical expenses for her ongoing medical attention needed for the congenital liver problem, and any other medical concerns that may arise throughout her lifetime.
Thank you for your cooperation with this matter.
******* and Amy
February 7, 2019: Below is our last email from the breeder.
Date: Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 10:05 AM
Subject: Re: Tuula
To: ********, Amy <Amy@************.ca>
Thankyou. Yes. I need an agreement. That once i refund more funds. The slander will seize. She called the spca on both if us. ??? Which went in our favour. But the attacking must stop. Also. She gave us much different info than the vet files suggest. I am home on the 16 th. And will need to still have meet with our vets. My last apt got bumped for an emergency. The spay was late. With no pre warning. Or request for an extension. These funds fwd. and not refundable. As per contract. She never let me know. The $800. I will review with our vets and come up with an amount. As u r keeping the dog. Not returning her for a full refund. I am accepting your proposition to keep her. Sorry. Kind if tues up till 15
Needless to say, this was one of the most peculiar and unprofessional communications I have ever received. It expresses no concern whatsoever for the pup nor the client. It’s very apparent from the tone of the breeder’s disjointed email that she doesn’t care! She doesn’t care about her puppies and she doesn’t care about her puppy parents. Throughout this process, other than the very initial emails we received, the breeder did not ask how Tuula was doing. Compassion for our situation was not displayed.
She accused us repeatedly (including in the email above) of reporting her to the SPCA and that it had a positive impact on her business. However, for something that had such a positive outcome, she sure seemed bothered and hyper focused on it. The breeder accuses us of slander. Our statements are the truth. We tell truthfully about our experience with this breeder therefore her accusations of slander were unfounded.
If one were to glance at this breeder’s social media you would note that she has a “village.” Those who either benefit in some way from her or haven’t yet been negatively impacted by her careless actions. It’s so very sad that a breeder like this one is still in business but the desire for adorable puppies is alive and well. It’s up to the consumer to beware! The “breeder” we experienced wasn’t really a breeder at all. She is a broker. She brokered the sale of puppies.
Misleading information on this breeders’ website provides unfounded assurances of healthy puppies.
Any person can be a member of the CKC and AKC, simply pay your membership fee and you are a member. This doesn’t reflect in any way how a breeder operates and to what end they will go to assist puppy parents of sick dogs.
This breeder also highlights health tested parents through OFA. This may lead potential puppy parents to feel that they are purchasing a puppy clear of any life-threatening medical conditions. Unfortunately, this is not the case! Educate yourself on how to interpret the information on the OFA site. For example, our breeder had Tuula’s sire and dam tested however not all tests recommended by the OFA were completed by our breeder + our breeder had the lowest level of testing performed (practitioner) meaning that the sire and dam were examined/tested by a regular veterinarian instead of a specialist or better yet someone boarded in the specific specialty (e.g. Cardiologist testing for cardic disorders).
At the end of the day, there were so many things that were wrong with this situation but we were simply requesting reasonable compensation to assist with the ongoing costs associated with the care of our sick dog. We had every intention of keeping our sweet little Tuula. The extremely unprofessional way in which we were treated during this process was appalling!
Our sweet little Tuula is currently medicated 6 times a day and requires regular visits to the vet and specialist. She has developed seizures which are thought to be caused by her liver disease. Her lifespan may be shortened by having a congenital liver disease. We love Tuula and will care for her to the best of our ability as long as she is with us. It is our hope that by sharing our story we provide insight into the possible challenges one might face when purchasing a puppy!
What I have learned from my experience:
Always, always follow your intuition!!! If you don’t feel right or comfortable at any stage of the buying process do not proceed!!
Review breeder contract thoroughly! Ask for changes/edits to portions you are not comfortable with. If breeder is not agreeable to changes do not proceed!
Ensure all health testing is done prior to taking the puppy home! Research common disorders and diseases related to the breed you are purchasing and have ALL applicable tests done!! If you are not satisfied with the results or are denied the option to have your potential puppy tested do not proceed!!
Know the age of your puppy’s parents! If they were bred too young (under 1 yr of age minimum!) do not proceed! It was only once Tuula was sick and we investigated more about her parents that we discovered that her father (sire) was only 9 months old when bred for Tuula’s litter!
Know how many litters your puppy’s parents have had. This is particularly important for the dam. Back to back breeding is cruel and should not be encouraged or supported in any way!
Beware of false affiliation with regulatory bodies such as CKC and AKC. Membership doesn’t equate to better breeding!
Always get pet insurance!
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