Contracts: the business of buying and selling Westies

Concerning Buyers
Anyone who reaches the point of contacting a breeder directly, either by e‑mail or phone, has already been attracted to the breed. Hopefully, that person has researched the breed characteristics and examined the home environment so they are ready to talk seriously with a seller. There will be a flood of information, questions and answers on the part of both buyer and seller before the point comes of saying “Yes, I want one of your pups”. Then follows more information, some of which may be forgotten or misunderstood if there is not a written copy of the understandings in the hands of both buyer and seller. This is for your own protection as a buyer.

For example, you need to be sure exactly what is being offered, male or female, age of the animal, when it can be expected to come to your home, what guarantees can accompany the dog, such as health, including conditions under which the pup can or can not be returned to the breeder. You need to know the price, any taxes, transportation arrangements, and the price for it, as well as how and when the breeder expects payment. If a deposit is requested, you need to know how much it is, whether it is refundable or non‑refundable, and under what conditions. Are there food requirements? Are there spay/neuter requirements, and is there a time‑line on that? How is the dog registered and when do you get the official registration papers? Keep in mind that dogs sold as ‘purebred’ must be supplied with registration papers ‘free’ of additional cost under the Canada Pedigree Act of the Canadian National Livestock Registry. The Registration Papers consist of a certificate of registration issued by The Canadian Kennel Club which has, among other information, the dog’s official name and number along with the official names and numbers of its parents. A certificate of Certified Pedigree may also be issued, which lists the dog’s ancestors over three to five generations. For those who plan to show the dog to obtain champion status, and perhaps breed it, these papers showing authenticity and lineage are necessary. For pet buyers, these papers are your official proof that you got what you paid for, a purebred puppy.

It is no good to have all these details by word of mouth only. Nothing may go wrong, but if it does ‑ if there is a misunderstanding of any kind, or misinterpretation of information given or received, you could be out your puppy, and/or your deposit or you may have no redress if the puppy is very sick or dies. It is so important for you to get a contract. It protects everyone.

Look for time limits in the health part of the guarantee. They usually run from one to three years. However, there may be some conditions for a money‑back guarantee or replacements offered by some breeders, and some will offer to take the puppy back. Of course, if any money changes hands, there should be a written receipt. If you as a buyer are not satisfied with the conditions under which you are preparing to buy the puppy, you can always look elsewhere.

Concerning Breeders
Contracts can be considered as bothersome extra work but they protect both your pocketbook and your reputation as a reliable breeder. You the breeder must decide what items and conditions you will cover in a contract, and you must also be willing to stand behind it. For example, such things as the price of the dog, its health and what extended help or coverage you are willing to give for the dog’s lifetime are considerations. Will you take the dog back if the owner can no longer keep it or if there are health problems beyond the owner’s ability to manage? Some breeders retain ownership of the pup for a few months to be sure all is going well before the sale is finalized. Some breeders insist on being co-owners for the life of the dog, or until a championship is achieved. If you sell a show-quality dog and require a championship be put on it, it must be clear if this is at the buyer’s expense, or some other arrangement can be made. You can attach conditions to any items in the contract to further clarify what you are willing to cover. Times are changing and more people expect redress for things they regard as unsatisfactory. Many breeders will put conditions on a female such as wanting the bitch to be bred once, for which they will want to choose the stud dog. They will also want their choice of puppy from the first litter; or on the contrary the breeder will specify that the dog must be spayed or neutered and will want to have a signed non-breeding contract or veterinarian verification for the operation. Breeders may also put in writing that they will claim for damages if breeding is done contrary to the arrangements. If a bitch is to be bred, will she be kept at the owner's home or at the breeder's. Who will pay the expenses?

Also, it is the breeders’ responsibility to keep all CKC registration and pedigree and ownership transfer information accurately and up to date with the CKC. These papers must be made available to the puppy buyers at no extra charge to them and delivered within a short time of purchase.

If you are a member of the CKC, be sure that you know and will follow their policies and regulations.

The CKC states in its Policy and Procedures Manual Chapter 11, page 11.9 Article 14a: The Discipline Committee will not entertain complaints that involve contractual agreements between parties in which there is no allegation of a violation of the Animal Pedigree Act, The Club's By‑Laws or its rules and regulations for Canadian Kennel Club activities. Any such complaints shall be refused by the Canadian Kennel Club Head Office and the complaint fee returned along with a comment stating that the Complainant may wish to consider seeking redress in civil court.

Author: Anne Matheson