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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22591
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Hello, we are not a breeder, but we have two KC registered

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Hello, we are not a breeder, but we have two KC registered working cocker spaniels that had puppies. All puppies were KC registered and they were vet checked by our vets prior to them going their new homes. The vet confirmed they were all in good health. The new owner has taken the puppy to there vets for injections and the vet has told them it has a small hernia. We spoke to the owners and offered them a full refund on return of the puppy and we offered to collect her. They have advised that they want a contribution to the opertation. Can you advise are we liable for this after the puppy was vet checked. Whilst we registered the puppies and provided 4 weeks free insurance but there was not written contract between us and the new owners. As you can imagine this is very distressing and we are more than happy to have the puppy back and keep her ourselves. You thoughts are greatly appreciated.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with you today.

I am very sorry to hear that you have ended up in this awkward situation.

Can you just confirm for me that the hernia that has been found is an umbilical (at the level of the belly button) hernia?

Can you tell me what these owners have requested as a "contribution"?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your reply, the hernia appatently is very small and was to do when it was born apparently umblical. I have spoken to our vet and they can confirm they we confident when they vet checked it there were no issues. The new owners have advised it was going to be £210.00 and they want 50% towards it. We feel very disappointed as we spent alot of time get the right owners and bringing the puppies up in our own home as part of our family. As you would get attached and that why we have no issue in providing a complete refund and keeping her. Do we know if they will have the operation for it or keep the money.

Thank you Andrew,

First, let me say that as I am veterinary surgeon (as you have posted to the veterinary category) and not a lawyer, I will give you my opinion regarding the situation and generally what legal ramifications there are. If you wish afterwards, just let me know and I will forward your question to the legal experts to aid you.

Now it is unfortunate that your vet may not have caught this subtle umbilical hernia. These are genetically passed from parents to pup, but if it small and reducible on palpation (meaning it pops back in and likely why it was missed) then it usually will cause no health issue for the dog. This means we wouldn't jump into surgery in a wee pup this age (especially if this wasn't a massive hernia that she was displacing her guts into --which I suspect everyone would have noticed). Instead as this is a female puppy,we'd just plan to repair the hernia when the dog was in for spaying. At that time, it would just mean making a slightly bigger incision at the midline to incorporate the hernia and closing the deficit afterwards.

The reason I asked about this “contribution” is because when we spay female dogs in my practice (and pretty much all the practice I have worked in here in the UK) we don’t tend to charge anything more for a small hernia repair done at the time of spaying. It is literally a few more minutes and a few extra stitches. I suppose if the practice they frequent are sticklers, then perhaps they could charge a token fee for the additional time (ie £30 or so). As you can see, a £210 fee is a bit odd for a small hernia that isn't causing issue and therefore doesn't need to be addressed right away. Sure, if it was massive, thus couldn't wait until spaying, and needed a separate operation now the cost would be justified. But for a small hernia that was so small that her first vet didn't catch it, this doesn't make sense. And I have to admit, I would question this. Therefore, I would strongly suggest that you consider getting your vet to ring their vet to get some answers to this fishy situation.

Otherwise, I have looked into the laws that would surround this issue. In this case, poor wee Titch would be considered a "defective" item (since dogs are considered to be property in the legal world). Therefore, under Section 13 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, we'd have to appreciate that they do have some consumer rights after buying Titch. And even having had a health check, if the pup is found within 6 months to be defective you would be liable to either refund the purchase price for her return (as you offered) or to pay to have the puppy's defect fixed. (reference). And I do have to note that they can choose to push you to cover "reasonable" costs (or take you to small claims court) rather then go for full refund since SOGA 1979 doesn't require them to return her but only that they have the right to do so if they wish.

Overall, this situation sounds a wee bit dodgy as it is. Therefore, the first step is to ring your vet, let them know the situation and the contact details for their vet. They will need to ring them and discuss the state of this pup. This will ensure they are not exaggerating the situation and trying anything on. Depending on the outcome of that, you can again offer a full refund for her return. But if they are not keen to oblige, then they are taking a puppy "as is" then I would suggest getting a quote for umbilical hernia repair from your vet to compare (ie done at the time of spay and without). This will give you further idea of what they can reasonable request and what would be reasonable indicated at this time based on hernia.

Otherwise, just let me know if you do want me to pass your query on to the legal experts or if you want to first touch base with your own vet.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )


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