Although we are not by law required to, we have found that is in our best interest to go over this warranty with each customer buying a dog, and read it to them, word-for-word, and explain it. Because if not, nobody would ever read it and then when a problem arose they'd be all pissed at us for their ignorance. This is why it takes me about 45 minutes to sell a dog. Let me state right now: Even though we do this, half the customers pay no attention, or interrupt us in the middle of a sentence to ask things like, "Do you have collars with rhinestones on them?" and these are invariably the ones who end up pissed off because they didn't know about some part of our warranty. I'm seriously considering starting to ask people, "Do you have any questions? If you do, do NOT sign this paper until they are answered to your satisfaction." But you know what? Even still there would be people feigning outrage that they were never told something, because everyone who returns a dog thinks there should be an exception made for them so they can get a full refund, regardless of what legal document they signed and why. I'll post another blog about the stories people make up to try and get a full refund and the consequences later.
OUR STORE extends the following Limited Warranties to the buyer (or designated owner) named below:
THESE WARRANTIES ARE NOT TRANSFERABLE.
We had to put that warranties are not transferable after having several nasty problems with people who got the dog from someone who got the dog from someone who got the dog from someone who got the dog from us. In a few of these instances, the dog they were trying to get reimbursement for wasn't the dog listed on the papers. Dunno if lines got crossed somewhere in the multiple owners, or if the people thought they were being really slick and were going to get money for a problem in a dog they got from who knows where. In another couple of instances, the warranties had expired YEARS before, but the people who currently had the dog figured that since THEY'D only had the dog for a few weeks, they should still be reimbursed. Um, lol whut? No.
These Limited Warranties apply only to puppy #________ described below:
COLOR AND MARKINGS
SEX WHELPING DATE
MICROCHIP # (if available)
SIRE'S REGISTERED NAME
SIRE'S REGISTRATION NUMBER
DAM'S REGISTERED NAME
DAM'S REGISTRATION NUMBER
Obvious reasons as stated above with people trying to obtain money for dogs that were not purchased from us.
To qualify for these Limited Warranties, you must have your puppy examined by a licensed veterinarian within 14 days of purchase.
You must also keep the puppy under the regular and continued care of a licensed veterinarian for the full term of these Limited Warranties.
It is unbelievable how many people buy puppies and NEVER TAKE THEM TO A VET. Seriously. Once I had someone call me and ask for their dog's shot history because they lost it and they were going to board the dog while they were on vacation. The boarding kennel, naturally, wanted proof of vaccinations. I said, "Okay, how long ago did you buy your puppy," thinking like, oh, I dunno, two weeks ago. Three weeks ago, maybe. "Two years ago." Err. "You do realize that those vaccinations are no longer valid? The dog should have been vaccinated yearly, and needs proof of rabies which only a veterinarian can administer. The records we have aren't going to do you any good." They promptly started freaking out because they were supposed to leave the next day.
(To digress for a moment, this is what really kills me when people start the holier than thou "I want to rescue this dog!" shit when they're in the store. Because most of them "rescue" a dog from our store only to neglect the care of it as previously stated. Really? Before you come at me like that, make sure the dogs currently under your care are up to date on all their shots and a see a vet every week. Oh, they aren't and they don't? Then go rescue your own dogs, twit.)
(I call this the "Reconsideration Policy" because I think the term "Return Policy" is misleading. There is more than one reason to return a dog to our store and they do not all have the same repercussions as this.)
The staff of [the store I work for] recognizes that even after careful consideration, unforeseen circumstances may arise that prevents you from fulfilling the obligation of a new puppy. In consideration of our concern for both you and the puppy, if the puppy is unsuitable to your situation, in a non-health related issue, you may return the puppy to [the store I work for]. Be advised, there is a service charge of $50.00 for the first day and an additional $25.00 per day up to 14 days. (No return for non-health related issues after 14 days.)
- [The store I work for] reserves the right to refuse the refund of any puppy under this policy.
- All refunds are subject to manager approval.
- [The store I work for] may require a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian before any refund is given.
We've had this policy in place since I started working at the store six years ago. This copy of warranties was updated two years ago (I think). Before that, there was no service charge for returning a puppy to the store just 'cause someone changed their minds. People returned dogs like they were clothes. With reasons like, "Well we decided we don't like this one. We want to exchange it for another one." Finally it got to the point where the employees who had to deal with this dumb crap all the time were fed up. I mean, for real. Let's make people think just a little teensy bit before they just start snatching up dogs. It really sucks for a puppy when someones had it for two weeks, it grows considerably larger than it was when they purchased it, and then it gets passed over time and time again in favor of younger dogs. (This does happen.) So if someone returns a dog at 14 days, we're going to make sure we keep some of that money so that when we discount it due to it's age or size or both, we didn't just completely take that loss up the butt because the original purchaser didn't think it through enough. Same thing with the health certificate. They'd take a perfectly healthy dog, bring it back two weeks later, and 10 days after that it starts coughing. Great. Now it's going to not be for sale for 7-10 days. Thanks guys.
LIMITED FOURTEEN DAY WARRANTY OF HEALTH
[The store I work for] does not cover ANY emergency vet bills or normal puppy maintenance.
Insert Dr. W's practice name, address, and telephone number here.
Your puppy must be seen by this veterinarian within 14 days of purchase or your warranties are void. Your office visit fee will be waived and prescription medications prescribed at that time will be covered by [The store I work for] for the puppy purchased only.
If, within the 14 day warranty period, your puppy has any physical problems which makes it a poor health risk upon diagnosis, you may return the puppy to [the store I work for] for a refund. You must bring a signed statement from the veterinarian indicating the date of the diagnosis, and the reason s/he believes the puppy to be a poor health risk. This statement must include a description of the symptoms supporting the opinion.
Since it is your intention to return the puppy for a refund or credit, your veterinarian should NOT provide further immunizations or treatments for the puppy. Rest assured that all necessary care will be provided after consultation with our veterinarian upon the puppy's return to [the store I work for].
Okay. The reason it says that the dog must be seen by Dr. W or the warranties are void are mostly just to get people to go at all, but also because it is easier on us. The dog has already been seen by Dr. W once. She has her notes on that dog at her office, and can refer to them before she sees the dog. Also, since we have a running tab with them for all the meds and supplies I use in the kennel, it's a lot easier for them to just charge us for the medications they send home with puppies should they need them. It's a real pain in the ass to deal with everyone else. We'll do it, don't get me wrong, but it's a pain in the ass. People routinely bring in just their payment receipt with grand totals when they should be bringing itemized statements so we can see what it is exactly that we're paying for, and some vets just like to make things as big a pain in the ass as possible for us because we sell dogs and they hate us. I have actually heard customers tell us that the vet they took their new puppy to told them that I didn't really give the dog the vaccinations I said I did, because we're a pet store, and "pet stores do things like that." I dunno if they really believe that or if they said it just to make someone pay for something that had already been done, but either way it pisses me off. Dr. W knows that I give the dogs their shots, and she knows that I know what I'm doing.
I always tell people, by all means, take the dog to whatever vet you feel comfortable with and trust. I don't want anyone to feel like we're just in cahoots with Dr. W and she's not going to disclose problems or something. That's not the way it is, but I feel like that statement makes it seem that way. So yes, take the dog to whatever vet you want. Just make sure you take it to see Dr. W first. The office visit is waived, and all meds the dog might need at that time they just walk out with, no expense out of pocket. Why wouldn't you?
If any vet, be it Dr. W or whatever vet they decided to take the puppy to afterwards, is of the opinion that the puppy is a poor health risk for whatever reason, they can bring the dog back and receive a full refund. We just want a statement from that vet saying why they think the dog is a poor health risk. I don't think that's unreasonable. Generally if Dr W discovers something at her clinic after purchase, she'll just pick up the phone and call us, and that's fine. We're not pretentious asshats about it. But if it's any other vet, yes we'd like to know that an actual veterinarian thinks the dog is a risk, and why.
We prefer that the dog not receive vaccinations if it's going to be returned because, again, it just makes things simpler. Just bring the dog back. I'll give it the vaccinations it needs. And yes, we do really treat the dogs at our store, on site. If the problem is not treatable, we have Dr. W check it out if she hasn't already, and then we put the dog back up for sale, with all problems disclosed, at a very discounted price, as is, no warranty no return. No matter what it is, we do not send the dog back to the breeder, so forget every horror story you've ever heard about dogs with horrible defects being killed by breeders. Maybe some stores do that. We do not. We've sold dogs with some pretty serious fully disclosed problems before. (A Dachshund puppy with hydrocephalus comes to mind.) No matter what the problem is, somebody somewhere is willing to put the extra care and/or money into a special needs puppy.
As for not covering emergency care, we can do all illness related critical care at the store, so we tell people that we'd prefer the dog to come back to us. Anything else, such as emergency care because a dog chewed on an electrical cord, or got hit by a car, or what have you.. no, of course we're not going to cover that. Why would we?
Limited Six Month Warranty Against Hereditary Defects
If, within six months of purchase date, the puppy is diagnosed by a veterinarian as having a debilitating hereditary defect that in his/her opinion prevents the puppy from serving as a companion animal, [the store I work for] will provide you with one of the following options:
- You may keep the puppy and have a STORE CREDIT.
- You may keep the puppy and have ONE HALF-REFUND.
- You may return the puppy and have a FULL REFUND FOR THE PRICE OF THE PUPPY.
To make a claim under this provision, bring a signed statement from your veterinarian including the date of the diagnosis, the nature of the defect, the statement that the defect is hereditary in nature and the reasons why the defect will prevent the dog from being a companion animal. In all instances, you will be required to return all registration documents and warranties for the puppy. At the opinion of [the store I work for] you may also be required to secure a second veterinarian's opinion at our expense. In some instances, we may require you to return the puppy.
The puppies in our store are not show quality. They are not breeding quality. They are not guaranteed for these purposes. But unless we specify "prevents the puppy from being a companion animal" people would be trying to return 7 month old dogs to the store because the testicles that they knew couldn't be palpated won't drop and the dog can't be used for breeding purposes. Or for some other idiotic reason, like the dog has skin tags on it's lips and it grosses the owner out (true story).
The first two options are to keep the puppy because really, that's what most people want. Six months go by, you get attached to the puppy, you don't want to bring it back. Okay, MOST people don't want to bring it back. They just want some kind of compensation, and most people are fine with a refund. Our owner isn't a jerk, either. As long as we get the paperwork proving that someone isn't just trying to take us for a ride, they'll usually get more than one half of the dog's price.
Honestly, I don't know why it says in some instances, we may require someone to return a puppy. I've never seen it happen. I can't think of any reason why we would.
The second veterinarian's opinion would be Dr. W's. Dr. W is a good vet. There have been plenty of times when people returned dogs saying their vet wanted some hundreds of dollars worth of testing for somesuch and she takes one look at the thing and goes, "Oh. It's so-and-so. No big deal." Since some vets do just seem to be intent on using the "store bought dogs have expensive health issues" angle to get people to pay for things, we want our vet to see it, too. If it's no big deal, it's win all around. If it's big deal, then at least we know it's legit.
***GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS***
The following terms and conditions apply to these Limited Warranties:
A. [The store I work for] provides puppies solely for the purpose of a companion (pet) animal. There is no warranty expressed or implied that you will ever be able to use this puppy for showing or breeding purposes. You should NOT purchase a puppy from [the store I work for] if either of these uses are a condition of your purchase.
Pretty self-explanatory, I think. Most people seem to be under the haughty impression that the only reason we have this condition is because we don't want anyone else selling puppies.
B. [The store I work for] does not guarantee the temperament of our puppies.
Temperament is a combination of nature and nurture. Once they leave the store, we have no control over factors that may influence their condition such as how they're treated. There has been ONE case in which a puppy seemed to me to be dangerously unstable at a very early age. We sold that puppy fully disclosing that the dog was showing unusually aggressive behavior for such a young age, and we would not be held responsible, since this fact was disclosed up front, should the dog hurt anyone. I couldn't believe this guy was honestly going to take that dog with two small (as in 5 years and younger) girls. Honestly, this is the ONE dog I could say was just born with issues. The elevator didn't go all the way to the top floor. It's rare, but it happens.
C. [The store I work for] is not responsible for the transfer of any contagious illnesses to any other pet or person in your home. You are responsible for what you bring into your home. It is always advisable that you quarantine and monitor any animal before introducing it to your existing pets.
This one seems very reasonable to me. If a dog is exposed to something contagious, like kennel cough, two days prior to arriving at the store, kennel cough has a 5-10 day incubation period. It comes in, and it's sick already, but it isn't showing any signs or symptoms. A day later, Dr. W looks at it and says it's good for sale. Still not showing signs or symptoms. That night, someone buys it. Still not showing any signs or symptoms. Three days later, that dog is coughing and has a nasal discharge. Sorry, but I can't be held responsible for the other 3 dogs in the household becoming ill with something I didn't even know the dog had. That's a risk people have to be willing to take, not only bringing pet store animals into a home, but ANY animal. Be it a dog from a private breeder or a kitten found in a parking lot or a rescue animal. Shit is contagious, has an incubation period, people can't possibly know. Some dogs can be asymptomatic carriers of things, and be ill and contagious themselves without showing any symptoms. It happens. When explaining this part to people, I always stress heavily the importance of keeping the new puppy away from any existing dogs until it is cleared at the 14 day visit. Usually, by that time, anything that is contagious will be evident.
D. The warranties concerning health, life and condition are limited as expressed. [The store I work for] is not responsible for any payments of veterinarian's fees for examination, drugs, x-rays, laboratory testing or any other treatment unless approved by [the store I work for] in writing prior to those services being performed.
We cover a lot of crap under our 14 day warranty. As stated before, if Dr. W thinks a dog needs x-rays and the puppy is still under the 14 day warranty period, she just picks up the phone and calls us. It's taken care of. We're not sticklers for making people have a piece of paper unless we think they're trying to screw us. This one is mostly just making sure that people can't come back and demand payment for things that are part of routine pet maintenance. (It's happened.) These things are a part of owning a dog. If it's not a part of our 14 day warranty, and you need x-rays to determine if something is hereditary defect for that warranty, have the vet give us a call. Chances are they're going to cover it. If not, then you are on your own with it. Sometimes, we still get screwed and end up paying for things that aren't our fault. Just the nature of the business I guess. I'm reminded of a time recently when a lady purchased a puppy that started coughing during the 14 day warranty period. Nothing cleared it up. The dog continued to cough, the lady was pissed at us, and eventually, well after the 14 day warranty period had ended, Dr. W gives us a call to see if we will pay for x-rays that she thinks are necessary to really see what's going on. The owner called me and another manager up to the office to hear our opinions. We both said that he should not offer to pay for x-rays unless the owner offered to reimburse us should the problem turn out to be not our fault. I put it to him this way: If you don't pay for the x-rays, chances are she's just not going to have them done, and the problem is just going to be unresolved the way it is, with you paying for medications that may or may not work indefinitely. But what if you do pay for the x-ray and find out that the dog has a collapsed trachea from them yanking it around on a leash or something? Is she going to pay you back? Probably not, unless you make it clear up front that's how it is.
He paid for the x-rays without any conditions, and it turns out the dog had swallowed a stick that was caught in the esophagus. Not our fault. (And now my question is, do you think that lady admitted to everyone she bad mouthed us to that her problem wasn't our fault? I'm thinking no.)
E. Due to the high incidence of these defects, [the store I work for] does not cover (before or after sale):
- Cherry eye
- Undescended testicles
- Umbilical hernias
- Heart murmur, grade II or less
- Luxating Patella, grade II or less
This part of the warranty I'm ambivalent about. I think we should cover cherry eye and luxating patellas, even if only through Dr. W's clinic. Undescended testicles, well. The dog shouldn't be bred anyway. What does it need testicles for? I could see maybe if the cost of removing them, which should be done, is greater than the cost of a normal neuter surgery, we pay the difference. That makes sense to me. Heart murmurs of grade II or less aren't usually a problem. My dog has a grade II heart murmur. I have an irregular irregular heartbeat that doesn't bother me in the least. Umbilical hernias, again, not usually a big deal. It's the inguinal ones that are a big deal. All these things are disclosed at the time of sale. If the person is iffy about buying the dog because it has an umbilical hernia, they're aware of it and don't have to buy the dog. It's not like we hide anything and then point and laugh after the first vet visit. I've even put dogs on temporary, verbal holds for people while they go home and consult their vet about the issues. I'm a big "Don't just take my word for it," person.
F. [The store I work for] does not guarantee Hypoglycemia.* We recommend you do not purchase a Small breed if you are not equipped for the challenge.
*See Hypoglycemia Care Sheet
Completely aside from what it means, I hate the wording of that. It makes it sound like the dog is supposed to have hypoglycemia. I wish it said something more along the lines of, "We do not issue refunds because of hypoglycemia," or something. Oh well. I didn't write the thing.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. Toy breeds are incredibly prone to this problem. If they're too exited and they don't eat, they get hypoglycemia. If they're stressed and don't eat, they get hypoglycemia. If someone carries them around all day in a purse and doesn't give them the chance to eat, they get hypoglycemia. It's completely and totally based on how much and how often the dog is eating, and that is entirely out of our control once the dog leaves the store. I'm not going to let a dog that isn't eating go home with someone. But if it is eating, and has been eating fine for me, they take it home, and then they try to bring it back hypoglycemic, hey. This is not our fault. They were warned. Repeatedly. In the warranty, with our Hypoglycemia FAQ & Troubleshooting sheet that is in every warranty regardless of breed, and by the fact that under the vet notes, of any dog under 10 pounds, I write how much the dog weighed at the time of Dr. W's exam and the words, "MONITOR EATING - WATCH FOR HYPOGLYCEMIA."
If you can't be there to make sure the dog is eating 3-4 small meals spaced frequently throughout the day, or if you can't syringe feed a dog that won't eat, don't buy a toy breed. It's that simple.
That being said, when people DO make a dog hypoglycemic after purchase, we're not going to just leave them hanging on their own. We're not going to give a refund, but if they bring it back, we'll syringe feed it Nutri-Cal and Karo syrup and Pedialyte and whatever else it needs to bounce back. And we tell everyone who leaves with a tiny puppy this, and that they should NOT wait to see if the problem resolves, because they can very quickly just fade out and die from hypoglycemia.
G. You qualify for a refund or a credit for another puppy only for the reason and the manner stated herein.
You do not get a refund if you allow your dog to get by a car, killed by another dog or animal, or cause harm to it in any other way.
H. If you are eligible for and select a refund under these warranties, [the store I work for] will refund your puppy's purchase price by company check within 14 days after receipt of all documentation substantiating your claim.
Or in layman's terms, we do not go by your word alone. If we feel someone is trying to screw us over, we will need x-rays and other proof that the problem actually exists before we're forking over the money.
This written agreement is the entire agreement between myself and [the store I work for] concerning the health, condition, development, use or loss of the puppy purchased today. I will not rely on any oral statements contrary to this written agreement unless they are included in writing. I have read and completely understand these warranties, including the General Terms and Conditions, all of which I accept.
We had to add this after people would try to pull the, "But the girl TOLD me," BS. Well it doesn't matter what anyone TOLD you, you signed your name to this piece of paper that says otherwise. People STILL try that BS, despite the fact that everyone who is authorized to sell a puppy knows that you HAVE to read that last bit OUT LOUD to the customer.
On the back of all this, there is a an immunization, worming and other care record. I hand write all the shots I give the dogs, the dates the shots were administered, all the wormings I give the dogs, the solution I used and the dates I administered them. I also write in every other chemical I use on or put in the dogs, including flea preventative, just in case. All information is important to vets. After hearing the "pet stores don't REALLY give those shots, they just say they do," crap, I also started peeling the stickers off of the vaccine vials and sticking them to the outside of the envelope that these warranties come in, with the dates written above them. Hopefully that shuts them up.
Under the vaccine and worming history, there is a space for the customer to initial next to bold text that says:
Continuation of this immunization and worming program is essential to this puppy's health and the responsibility of the new owner.
Other Veterinary Care
This initial program of protection and treatment was designed and administered in consultation with [the clinic Dr. W works for]. We have counselled your client about the need for continuing a program of veterinary care, to both fulfill their responsibility as a pet owner and to validate this warranty.
While every effort is made to see that no puppy leaves [the store that I work for] showing clinical symptoms of illness, your examination may uncover a problem that was not yet evident to our veterinarian, staff, or the customer prior to sale. Should this situation arise, we would appreciate your call before treatment in order to determine whether a refund or replacement is a more satisfactory alternative for the client and the puppy.
And then there is a space for Dr. W's findings at her initial examination of the puppy.
This is there because:
1. It's true. Liver shunts and some other problems may not be evident to me, the staff, the customer or Dr. W at her initial exam.
2. Before anyone makes any major decisions regarding that dog, we'd like to be informed. There have been circumstances where people do not take the dog to Dr. W, go to a different vet, discover a problem, and ELECT (the key word here is ELECT) to put the dog to sleep despite the fact that the condition is correctable. And then they come with hands stretched out and voices raised to demand compensation.
Nobody could imagine how much it pissed me off the first time that happened while I was the kennel manager. I really wanted to hurt that woman. And of course when she made the first phone call after the fact, her statement to us was that the dog HAD to put put down. I was the one who threw a fit and demanded that the owner contact the veterinarian who euthanized the dog. Good thing I did, too, but I started to shake when they informed me, "No, she didn't HAVE to put the dog down, she ELECTED to. She could have elected for treatment instead, it was offered as a viable option."
She probably didn't bring the warranty information with the health record to that veterinarian at all, now when I'm sitting here thinking about it. At the time I sat in silence for a few minutes while I struggled with the urge to shout at the woman at the other vet's office, "WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST CALL US."
Really. We would have issued her a complete refund for the dog and had him treated at Dr. W's. But she had to kill him, instead. Because, you know, if she didn't want to bother treating him, certainly no one else might want to.
Those are our warranties. I don't know about any other store's warranties. I do know that other stores seem to have pricing 500+ dollars more than our average for puppies, which boggles my mind. But that's another blog post.