Two days ago, a dear client of mine came in a with a 4 month old pug puppy they had just purchased. The purpose of the visit was to administer the final round of vaccines, but also to check a "protrusion" coming out of the vagina that was giving the puppy discomfort every time she sat. Under the breeder's care, the puppy had only had one puppy vaccine at the age of 11 weeks (puppy vaccines should be started at 6 weeks, then boostered again at 9 and 12 weeks), and came with no state health certificate for sale signed by a veterinarian, a legal requirement to sell any animal in Florida. Both of these facts concerned me from the beginning of this visit.
Upon examination, I was fairly certain that the "protrusion" from the vaginal cavity was actually a small penis, meaning that the puppy was born with mixed male and female reproductive organs, a condition known as hermaphroditism. I explained to the owner that the puppy would need to have an imaging contrast study to ascertain the exact location and path of the urethra and lower urinary tract, before it can be decided whether I could perform the surgical correction, or whether this needed to be in the hands of a specialist. I also informed the owners that altering the patient could be tricky, as the puppy could have ovaries, testes, or both, and only abdominal exploratory surgery would reveal this.
The owners were already attached to this puppy, but they were concerned about making the financial commitment necessary to repair the puppy's deformity; a puppy that had been in their lives for less than 24 hours. I attempted to quell their concerns by telling them about the Florida State puppy lemon law, which states that if within 14 days of purchase, a veterinarian deems that a puppy if sick or has one or congenital deformities, the owners are entitled to return the puppy for a full refund, or be compensated for medical fees up to and including the price of the animal. Many breeders will try to worm their way out of this responsibility, but I thought that this breeder would likely capitulate knowing that he had already broken the law once by not having a health certificate for the puppy he sold.
The next day, the owners of the puppy called me very upset that the breeder had informed them that he was not going to provide them with a refund, that they were misinformed about both the lemon law and health certificate requirement. He told them that the puppy was theirs for better or for worse. What's more, when they called the vet where the puppy had received her one and only vaccine, they informed the owners that they had denied dispensing a health certificate on the grounds of her deformity! This fact confirmed that this breeder knowingly and purposefully sold this puppy with a deformity.
I decided that I would call the breeder myself on behalf of the owners. Often, once a breeder knows that an owner has the full backing and support of a licensed veterinarian to pursue legal satisfaction, they change their tune. I reached the breeder's voice mail and left him a message stating that he had already broken the law once by selling a puppy without a state health certificate, and he is breaking yet a second time by not observing the lemon law. As such, I informed him that I will offer the owners my full support and testimony for any legal action they take against him in this matter, if he does not concede and do the right thing.
The breeder called me back in a short period of time and started yelling a string of profanities, meanwhile threatening that he was going to use my message to have my license taken away. To this I laughed and told him how funny the state board will find it when an unethical and unlawful business man approaches them demanding that a they revoke the license of a veterinarian with a flawless record in 7 years of practice - all on the grounds of my attempt to help my clients uphold the law and preserve their rights. To this he became hostile and said,"Yeah? How about I just come down to your place and smack you like a little female dog [he used a different word for this]?" At that, I told him the conversation was over and hung up.
I called the owners back shortly thereafter and informed them that they were unfortunately dealing with, not only an unethical and unlawful breeder, but a sociopath as well. Interestingly enough, the owners told me that the breeder had already called them back with a completely different demeanor, offering his apologies and a full refund that they can put toward having the puppy's deformity fixed. I guess despite all of his hostility, I must have made an impression.
These owners and their puppy have potentially a tough road ahead of them in getting this puppy right, but at least they have the financial relief that was rightfully theirs, to offset the financial burden that the puppy's treatment could end up costing them. I offer this story so that the public is aware of the caliber of people they could end up dealing with, even when partaking in an activity as innocent as buying a puppy. Always beware of people like the breeder in this story.