Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sick Pup Follow-Up

Poor, sick puppy.
Four months ago I shared a sad story about the $3500 sick puppy. You can read the entire story at "Kelley Drinks Because . . ." The gist is:
  • Husband bought a "surprise" German shepherd puppy for his wife from an online broker. Husband never spoke with the breeder, nor did he interact with the puppy before purchase.
  • The puppy was delivered just before the wife's scheduled two-month trip to Europe.
  • Puppy showed up sick. The couple treated the infection, then they discovered serious genetic problems. The puppy was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia (both hips) and bilateral distal femoral osteochondritis dissecans (excessive cartilage growing on the ball joints of both large leg bones).
  • The couple realized that their work schedules and finances weren't great for a healthy puppy, never mind one that would require thousands of dollars in orthopedic surgery.
  • The puppy broker stopped returning calls and the name of the breeder was never divulged.
  • The wife blanketed the local dog community with sad pleas, looking for someone to take on this "special needs puppy."
This is a healthy puppy.
Well, a friend of mine got involved. She was able to comb through the couple's paperwork and found some slightly good news. The puppy originated in Florida, so there was a mandatory health certificate, for what it's worth. Obviously the veterinarian didn't inspect the puppy as required. There was no way this puppy was fit for purchase. However, the name of the breeder was on the certificate. Word got out quickly. The breeder's Facebook page was inundated with nasty truths and was eventually shut down. Animal welfare groups have gotten involved and they are going after both breeder and veterinarian -- to what extent, I don't know. (Because of my job and position as an AKC-sanctioned club president, I'm trying not to get involved.)

The couple kept the puppy after all. They tried to make him as comfortable as possible while weighing their options. The puppy died quickly and quietly last week. They think he had a heart attack. (No autopsy was performed.) The puppy wasn't even 9 months old. The couple is devastated, but happy that their pet is no longer in pain. And they're feeling guilty that they're relieved the ordeal is over. This is not what they were expecting when they saw their little ball of fur 6 months ago.

I'm very sorry for the pain that this couple and their poor sick puppy went through. I'm sharing this story hoping that it will be a lesson to others. Here are some things I want people take away from this:
This is worth the work!
  • Never, ever, EVER buy from an online puppy broker. If you can't talk to the breeder directly, run away!
  • Living creatures should not be surprise gifts. Animals are a lot of work. Everybody needs to be on board before bringing one home.
  • A dog is a 10-15 year commitment. Make sure your schedule and finances have room for the new addition.
  • Just because you pay more for something doesn't mean it's better. This is especially true with dogs. My AKC show dog is no better than my "free to a good home" dog was.
  • Do some research beforehand. What should you expect from a dog of this breed/size/age? Does the breeder/rescue group/animal shelter have a contract? If so, what protections and recourses do you have should something go wrong?
If you don't like the answers you're getting, walk away -- no matter how cute the puppy is. It may sound callous. Sorry. But a little legwork up front can save you a lot of heartache later on.

My friend is still in contact with the couple. When they're done grieving she can help them find a happy, healthy German shepherd either through a reputable breeder or a good German shepherd rescue group. Too bad they didn't meet her last year. -- K