(don't be taken in by words on a page, ask questions)
Per the Code Of Ethics of the Golden Retriever Club of America, members are encouraged to place puppies on contracts. Please see: www.grca.org for most current COE in pdf format. But basically this is what is stated in short:Members are encouraged to use clear, concise written contracts to document the sale of animals,including the use, when appropriate, of non-breeding agreements and/or Limited Registration.
I do agree with the GRCA that breeders need to be clear and concise and that putting things in writing can be a good tool; but a contract is only as good as the person behind it and the questions you ask and get answered to your satisfaction. That in mind, all parties need to be clear on what a breeder warrantees and where each parties responsibilities begin and end. It's nearly impossible to write a contract that covers it all. This page is detected to helping the pet buying population understand contracts. In my opinion some contracts only serve to protect the seller which again in my opinion is not in keeping with the GRCA recommendation above, nor the essence of "fair play" nor do they hold the dog's best interest first.
The forgoing are clips from a contract "Pet Puppy Sales Agreement" published in the GRCA "GR-News" (breed publication for members) Jan/Feb 1988 to act only as a sample to the membership, to aide in facilitating members to comply with the COE noted above. In addition, while now we clear for more disease than we did in 1988 I think the average person can easily understand this portion of the agreement which implies disclosure and expectations.
This is not an endorsement on behalf of the GRCA or myself. Even though this was published 14 years ago, this contract sample is still a good bench mark and is both clear and concise, and that is why I choose to quote these portions:
Clip # 1: That in order for Seller to maintain a quality breeding program, Buyer agrees to obtain an OFA Evaluation of the dog no later than thirty (30) months of age and an examination of the dog's eyes by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist at twelve (12) months of age. Buyer will furnish copies of said reports to Seller.
(Note today's clearances also add: heart and elbow evaluations.)
Clip # 2: Reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent this puppy from acquiring hereditary faults such as hip dysplasia and hereditary cataracts. However, due to the unknown hereditary and environmental causes of such faults, no guarantee will be given against them.NO GUARANTEES OR WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, ARE GIVEN BY: ______________ AS SELLER, AND ALL DOGS ARE SOLD AND DELIVERED IN AN 'AS IS' CONDITION, EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY AND SPECIFICALLY SET FORTH HEREIN.
Clip # 3: The Buyer guarantees Seller rights of first refusal if the dog is to be sold or disposed of in any way. If Seller does not wish to acquire the dog, Seller will assist the Buyer in placing him.
Basically what I take away from these clips is this, working backwards and questions that have come to my mind are:
Clip #3 says to me: If for any reason I as a Buyer can not keep my dog it is my responsibility to contact the breeder and to accept mentorship on how to place this dog responsibly and or to return the dog to the breeder. Which ever is best for the dog at the time.
If I can't keep my dog will you take it back unconditionally?
Will I receive any refund, or will I need to compensate you in anyway for taking the dog back?
What if I want to place the dog with someone I have screened and I feel comfortable with?
Clip #2: The breeder has done their homework and is saying to me that they have, however there are no guarantees in life and while the breeder wishes to produce only sound dogs they are disclosing that they have no control over genetics.
What if my dog does have a hereditary problem such as severe hip dysplasia? Will you stand behind the dog?
What will you do for me compensation wise, provided I have followed general recommendations on properly managing my dog's diet, exercise and general well being?
Clip # 1: The breeder is saying that I should have my dog tested for the same genetic faults that breeding dogs are tested for.
If I do this and my dog fails a test where do we go from there as a team?
To me the above is clear concise and streamline, should serve to adequately spell out "rights and responsibilities" in a general sense, and does leave an open door for team work.
Now the following excerpts from contracts I have viewed and personally hold a fault with.
This material has been copy pasted as it was presented, I have made no changes to this, grammar punctuation is as it was presented. In red are my questions and or comments.
>> ___X___25 MONTH HEALTH GUARANTEE ON HIPS, EYES AND HEART.
Why is the dog only "guarantee" for 25 months?
>> (Genetic but not due to injury or environmental factors.) We need a statement from a vet confirming the genetic defect. We will get a second opinion from a vet of our choice.
Who pays for the second opinion? How is it determined if a disease is genetic, environmental or injury based? Who makes that determination? What if the parties do not agree?
>>The dog must be brought back in order to get a refund or replacement puppy.
>> The breeder is not resposible for any veterinary cost before or after the defect was established.
Then I assume this answers who is responsible for payment of the second opinion?
>> If you decide to keep the dog, breeder will not be responsible for any veterinary costs, refund of the dog or other incurred expenses.
So there is really no warrantee with this dog? Or guarantee?
>> The dog must also be spayed or neutered and not bred in order to guarantee no genetic defects will be inherited.
If the dog is spayed or neutered and not bred it won't get genetic defects?
>> Since 85% of all hip dysplasia is due to overfeeding or feeding high protein, high calorie diet, pup must be kept in trim weight, especially avoiding obesity, and closely approximate Target Weights as verifiable through veterinary records.
This is very misleading information. Hip dysplasia (HD) is not caused by over feeding, or other action noted above. Though the condition can be acerbated by improper care & exercise. Please see:
OFA: http://www.offa.org/ofahd.html and related pages.
GRCA: http://www.grca.org/acquiring.htm "Acquiring A Golden Retriever"
>> The puppy must be fed either Authority Chicken and Rice, Nutro Natural Choice or Flint River dog food in order to insure high quality food without preservatives and by-products. If this food is not fed consult with breeder.
While it is responsible to make recommendations, how fair is it to dictate what a dog can be fed? In addition, some of the foods listed above do contain preservatives and byproducts these things may not have been added by the manufacture but they are in the food regardless.
>> The health insurance will not be valid if Iams, Eukanuba and Sciene Hills Diet, Pedigree or Purina have been fed.
Health insurance? Or implied "guarantee" is void if dog is fed these foods? I have a serious problem with statements such as this, again how fair is it to dictate what a dog is fed?
In closing while as previously noted: "It's nearly impossible to write a contract that covers it all" and the fact that we as breeders can not be held responsible for the expression of genetically suspect diseases what we should do is: Be aware, be fair and educate. Work with our buyers case by case and embrace the the mission:
RESPONSIBILITIES AS A BREEDER:
GRCA members who breed Golden Retrievers are encouraged to maintain the purpose of the breed and are expected to demonstrate honesty and fairness in dealing with other owners and breeders, purchasers of dogs and the general public.