Buyers beware: Man faces huge vet bill after buying puppy from Errington breeder

Keith Price's recent purchase from an Errington dog breeder left him with massive veterinary costs he wants others to avoid.

"My dog is a Burnese mountain dog-St. Bernard cross," Price said. "He just turned seven months old and the vet said he will need a new hip in a year to a year-and-a-half."

The operation is expected to cost $6,000 plus travel and at least one stay in Vancouver.

"It's not the money, it's people like these breeders have to be held accountable for selling crippled dogs to people," he said, adding that the breeders have an ad on Kijiji with another batch for sale and he said they look like they have the same hip problems, based on the way they're sitting.

When Price called the breeder about covering some of the medical costs or getting some of his $750 purchase price back, he said the breeder hung up on him. Price, who lives in Ladysmith, contacted the SPCA in Nanaimo who told him they would send someone to check on it, but couldn't say when.

Nanaimo SPCA manager Leon Davis said he wasn't aware of the specific case, pointing out that they do check on breeders and complaints about animal welfare, but it's done by a separate provincial branch.

He said their first contact is usually just a check-up and they can provide information to breeders or pet owners and are there to help.

Taking animals away is a last resort and he said they can often resolve situations before that.

While there are groups like the Canadian Kennel Club, which can recommend breeders, Davis said they are not fool-proof and he suggests it’s really up to the individual to investigate where the animal is coming from.

“If you do buy from a breeder, make sure you meet the dog’s parents and really check where those puppies are coming from,” he said.

“Of course the only way to really be sure is to adopt, rather than buy,” he said touting the non-profit work of the SPCA which provides as much medical history as they can and is not looking to make a profit, “in fact we lose money on most adoptions,” he said.

He said that so called “pure breed” dogs are actually like “Frankenstein breeds created by humans,” and they frequently have health issues, pointing to a recent case in Victoria in which an overwhelmed breeder turned over 30 bull dogs and pugs requiring tens of thousands of dollars in medical attention.

Price said he feels like he was taken by a con and is worried other dog lovers will have a similar experience if they are not cautious.

People with concerns about animal welfare should call the SPCA tip line at 1-855-622-7722.

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