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Buying a puppy is one of the most exciting things you can do, but it can also be rather stressful. Hopefully by the time you’ve got as far as having made your selection on the breed and type of dog you wish to purchase and where you’re going to get it from, you’ll already have spent a significant amount of time researching and finding out about everything that you’ll need to know beforehand. One of the key areas in which it is important to get things right when buying a new pedigree puppy, is in knowing what kind of formal paperwork you should receive with your dog. This is to make sure that you are covered in law and in reality against any unforeseen problems, and to give you some comeback if things should somehow go wrong after the event. However, even with all that is written about buying a new dog and the wealth of advice that is available to prospective would-be pedigree puppy owners, very little is written about the need for formal paperwork, and exactly what this should entail. Your new puppy will take a significant investment from you- not only in financial terms, but emotionally- and doing what you can to make sure you’re getting what you pay for and that you safeguard yourself as much as you possibly can against any problems in the future is vitally important. So, what exactly do you need, how can you make sure that you get it, and why do you need it? Read on to find out more.
One of the first things you should ascertain about your new puppy-to-be is what veterinary visits or treatments he has had during his short life. Generally when buying a pedigree dog from a breeder, your pup will already have received their first health check, flea and worming treatment and the first of his two-stage vaccinations, all of which should have certifications and verifying paperwork to show this. You will need to ensure that all of this paperwork comes with you when you collect your new puppy. Also, with some pedigree breeds that are particularly prone to genetic conditions and hereditary predispositions to certain conditions (such as hip dysplasia in Labradors, for instance) veterinary certifications such as hip scores for the parent dog may be included as part of the sale or as part of the pricing decision for the puppies. Puppies that are bred from a dam with a record of veterinary testing for good health and freedom from common inherited disorders are generally considered to be of more financial ‘worth’ than an unknown quantity. If part of your decision is being based on the results of veterinary testing (either performed by a vet contracted by yourself or the seller) make sure that you receive formal copies of the results produced.
Whatever means you use to make your payment with, be it cash, cheque or even card, a formal receipt for your payment is important. All that this document does is confirms that you paid the agreed amount to the seller and received the goods (the dog) owed to you accordingly, but nevertheless it is an important document to have for precisely this reason. Ensure that the receipt denotes the date of the transaction, the payment method, and the specific details of the dog you have bought, and that the exchange of funds and goods is witnessed by a third party if at all possible.
A formal contract or bill of sale is much more detailed than the simple receipt for your cash, and how it is worded is very important. You may choose to have a solicitor or other professional draw up an official and formal contract of sale for you in order to encompass a range of different caveats and occurrences, and to make sure that your contract is worded correctly to be considered as a formal legal document, should you ever have to refer back to it. What the contract or bill of sale actually contains is largely down to yourself and the breeder, and how detailed or simple it is will depend on what is agreed between you. As some very general guidance, some of the topics you might wish to consider in your contract of sale might include:
In order to make your contract or bill of sale water tight, it is always best to have it checked over by a legal professional before signing, and to ensure that an unconnected third party who also signs the document witnesses both the buyer and seller’s signatures.
Finally, when buying a pedigree puppy, make sure that you remember to get the formal breed registration paperwork confirming that the puppy is indeed a pedigree, and is of the provenance that the seller is selling him as! If the seller is for any reason reticent to provide this paperwork, or tells you that they have registered the puppies but have not yet received the certification paperwork back, something may be amiss. If your seller is waiting for the breed paperwork to come down from The Kennel Club or the breed registry, you should be able to verify this independently with the organisation itself. Also until you have the paperwork in your hands (which can sometimes take some time to process, and it is not uncommon to have to wait several weeks after the puppies are born) add a caveat to your contract of sale that the breed paperwork constitutes part of the sale and that the sale is not complete without it.
None of these documents are foolproof, or guaranteed to protect you in the case of problems or issues arising after the sale. However, they are all relatively simple, common sense steps that you can take to ensure that the chances of running into later problems are kept to an absolute minimum, and to give you some protection and comeback if they do. Talk to a solicitor if you need some advice on your legal rights when buying a pedigree puppy, or on what you can to protect yourself from any future problems.
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