NSW Fair Trading has received more than 20 complaints so far this year from consumers having significant and costly problems with dog breeders.
In some cases consumers have found themselves out of pocket and responsible for expensive vet bills for sick and genetically compromised puppies suffering serious diseases.
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is urging breeders to abide by Australian Consumer Law (ACL) consumer guarantees and recommending consumers bring their complaints to Fair Trading for mediation.
“Buying a puppy or dog is a big investment, financially and emotionally,” he said.
“We have reports of some real canine catastrophes and are worried consumers are being left with big bills and broken hearts when much anticipated new pets present with serious illness, in some cases resulting in death.”
One man bought his girlfriend an American bulldog puppy as a combined birthday and Christmas present.
The puppy cost $1,000 but within days was ill from roundworm infestation. It was taken to the vet where it remained for two weeks until it died.
The vet bill was $1,445. The breeder promised a replacement puppy, but none has been forthcoming.
One woman paid $4,000 for an alleged purebred British bulldog that has been beset with numerous health problems costing $5,000 in vet bills in the first nine months of the dog’s life.
The woman also discovered the pedigree certificate was fraudulent and the puppy was from an incorrect colour dam, which can void a pedigree registration.
Another woman bought a $3,000 Australian bulldog puppy from a NSW breeder and had it flown to Western Australia.
The puppy was sick on arrival with a respiratory condition that precluded vaccination and voided pet insurance.
The puppy arrived in a soiled crate with no blanket or toys. The woman spent $5,000 on vet bills but the puppy had to be put down, causing significant distress to the woman and her two children.
Mr Stowe said in several cases people had paid thousands of dollars for pedigree puppies but after repeated requests for proof of pedigree, none were forthcoming.
“If people are buying dogs to breed, a lack of suitable certification can stymie those plans,” he said.
Dogs NSW spokesperson Brian Crump said all dog breeders should abide by the ACL and the code of ethics of Dogs NSW.
“All puppy buyers should check the credentials of the dog seller and visit the puppy and its parents,” he said.
“Don’t buy a puppy from Facebook or based on a photograph on the internet.
“We see many people caught out this way, out of pocket and with a dog that may not suit their needs…..or no dog at all.”
There is a failure of consumer guarantees under the ACL for the supply of goods if a puppy or dog:
- doesn’t match descriptions made by the salesperson and in promotions or advertising
- is not fit for the purpose the breeder or seller told you it would be fit for and for any purpose that you made known to the breeder or seller before purchasing
- does not meet any extra promises made about performance, condition and quality.