Last week at Londonderry’s Appletree Mall, I noticed a tiny white and tan dog surveying the parking lot from a car window. That little Bijon-like face and soft hairy body made it irresistible in the cuteness department.
Its owner said it was a “Royal Shih Tzu.” That she had an AKC registration supporting her claim conflicted with the animal’s mixed-breed appearance. She subsequently conceded her dark-eyed little cotton ball might not be the pedigree shown on its registration.
That’s not unusual. In fact, my wife purchased a puppy purported to be a purebred Shih Tzu. She, too, was given papers confirming the pedigree. She, too, was scammed.
Normally observant, she was so enamored by Mozart’s affectionate nature, she was blinded to what the oversized paws and snout im- plied. Unscrupulous dealers rely on that.
They also rely on a delayed wakeup to reality. The latter usually occurs only as a puppy matures, revealing features not characteristic of its assigned breed.
By that time, it’s too late to take the dog back. For most people, doing so would be like giving up a child.
My daughter, Latasha, agrees. She runs a pet salon in Merrimack called the PawPad. She grooms both mixed breeds and purebreds. Recognizing the difference is important in regard to grooming issues.
Some breeds have fur. Others have hair. Still others have both. Mixed breeds can have any combination, so it’s necessary to recognize which coat variation needs addressing.
Hair is easy. It’s consistent throughout the strand. Cutting it long or short makes little differ-ence to the coat, aside from appearance.
Fur is different. At its base, the texture is soft in order to retain body heat. At the tip, it’s hard and shiny in order to fight the elements and reflect sunlight. Cutting fur leaves that soft lower surface exposed to the elements. Consequently, the animal feels the effects of sun and moisture more intensely.
For that reason, Tasha won’t cut fur. She’s had that policy since she stumbled into this niche after a couple career changes following college. It combines her enjoyment of animals with a way to earn a living.
Nevertheless, it’s a continuous learning process, through which she’s acquired considerable expertise. Hence, like much of her clientele, I defer to her on issues regarding breeding or breeders.
Certainly, most breeders are ethical in their business dealings. Yet, the registry system is fertile ground for fraudulent activity. It relies heavily on breeder integrity. That’s an invitation to abuse.
For instance, a disreputable breeder might have a stable of registered dogs. For whatever reason, if a mixed-breed litter is produced, the breeder has a problem.
Puppies need to be sold at a good price to support the operation. The process makes it easy to falsify the litter registration. All that’s needed is to complete the form with a sire and dam of the same breed using one of the registration numbers from the stable.
No one verifies breed purity except the breeder. Therefore, when the registration is recorded, the mixed-breed litter can all be sold as purebreds.
That’s why it’s important to buy from a long-established, show-dog breeder with a reputation to protect. Better yet, animal shelters are another option.
Registry organizations do not to guarantee breed purity. The American Kennel Club website disclaimer states: “As AKC does not breed or sell dogs, it cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry.”
The Dog Registry of America Inc. avoids the issue. Its website refers buyers to “Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.”
Clearly, dog registries are merely database mills that sell bragging rights. Garbage in, garbage out. The onus of ensuring actual breed purity is on the buyer.
States such as New York and California have puppy lemon laws. They allow buyers to obtain a partial refund of the animal’s purchase price if mongrel qualities appear. Our state does not.
New Hampshire’s “Title XLV. Animals. Chapter 466. Dogs and Cats. Licensing of Dogs” covers everything but breed purity. Just a single additional sentence would remedy that: “Sale of a dog with a registration representing it as a breed to which it does not belong shall entitle the buyer to claim from the seller (1) a refund of the purchase price (2) reimbursement for costs of proving misrepresentation (3) ownership of the misrepresented animal.”
Such a puppy lemon-law amendment would give defrauded consumers a means by which to recover their money while keeping their pets. That would not only discourage the sale of misrepresented pups, but also improve breed purity.
Seems like well-reasoned justice, but might it ever become law? I think not. There are too many other concerns on the yardstick of importance for this to claim legislative attention.
As a scam, this is mild by comparison to what’s found when Googling “puppy scams.” So then, why should anyone care if someone looking to fill an empty life pays too much for the affection of a cotton ball with legs?
One might answer by saying it’s a matter of morality: “When I see thee, I see me.”
WWC NOTE: Every dog deserves a loving home but I do not condone faulty paper work or misrepresentation and charging for something that is not what is portrayed. If your questioning if your beloved pet is indeed a pure bred or not, there is a DNA test kit that you can order for around $50.00 that will identify the breeds your dog is indeed. If your questioning the pedigree that is shown on papers, then you would need to do DNA testing on the sire, dam, and your dog. Any male that has produced more then 5 litters in a year or 7 litters all together has DNA testing by AKC. Without the law in practice in your area and a breeder who is not willing to prove that the paper work matches your dog, then I guess you would have to file papers with the courts unfortunately. Though I have to stick up for the reputable breeders who has a buyer questioning their breeding practices and say that if you want to question them and have DNA done on their dogs then I feel you should pay for it until you’ve proven that breeder guilty. Many different looks come within ideal standards on breeds of dogs and its all in how you interpret those standards and what you like in those breeds and standards. With that being said, many pups look great but as they mature they don’t have the look you were striving for and this is why it is important to see the sire and dam of that pup to get an idea of what your pup will look like at maturity.