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Taking breeder to small claims


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hi,

 

Just asking for some experience or knowledge.

 

I purchased a puppy on the 30th of august.

On numerous occasions I was in contact with breeder and asked if the puppy showed signs of entropion. 

 

I was told no.

 

On the 26th of August puppy had first jabs.

And apparently their vets said none of the litter showed sign of entropion. 

 

On collection of puppy I noticed he was covered in green mucus.

The pen had dog muck spread in there so assumed it was just from pups playing and maybe getting it in each others eyes (poor hygiene on breeders part)

 

Asked breeder to wipe pup and we left  

 

With in 3 hours we realised that the puppy wasn't well.

He physically couldn't open his eyes and when we attempted to clean them his eyeballs weren't visible. 

 

We phoned an out of hour vets and contacted the breeders immediately.

 

The pup was taken to the vets and we were informed he had a severe eye infection which was a result to entropion. 

 

The vet bill came to around £900 after tacking and meds etc.

I asked the breeder to cover the costs.

They said no because their vets said their was no issues.  

 

The state on this puppy my vets think he's suffered from birth.

And most certainly not 5 minutes before I turned up. 

 

I've filed a small claims for the cost of the vets and the cost of the puppy. 

 

Where do you think ill stand? 

 

What type of evidence will the judge want to see.

 

Thanks

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You probably have an excellent chance of success – but we need to know much more.

If you only bought the puppy on 30 August and you have moved very quickly so that is very good. Did you send a letter of claim?

Have you got written evidence from the vet as to the condition and likely cause of the illness?

Please could you post up the claim form in PDF format.

Presumably no defence has been filed so far.

I would suggest that you spend a little time reading around this forum about taking a small claim in the County Court. It seems to me that you haven't fully prepared yourself before you have undertaken this action. It's not difficult but it is worth knowing the steps so that you are more confident.

As you have claimed for the cost of the puppy, do we understand that the puppy is now dead?

 

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Hi, 

 

No the puppy is not dead but from what I understood as the puppy was not fit for sale I had rights to ask for reimbursement of the puppy and the vetinary bills. 

 

I have had a reply from breeders they dispute all claims as their vets on the 26th said there was no issues. I spoke with their vets and they said there is no notes what so ever regarding their eyes.   

 

Yes I've got full details from vets. But am ringing them today to ask for another letter stating their professional opinions on length of time puppy has suffered for. 

 

I sent a message explaining and warning of court being further action.  I have been advised by the money claim help line that a letter of claim is neither here nor then and either way I did send communication regarding all via a phone message. 

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If you still have the puppy then you will not be able to recover the cost of it from the breeder. You will only be able to recover any losses/expenses which you have reasonably incurred in remedying the defects.

You will need the written details and also the statement that you are phoning them for. Tell them that it is for litigation – there may be a fee. Pay the fee that you will get that back when you win – as you surely will.

I'm afraid having warned them of a legal action by means of a telephone call is not sufficient. It should have been a letter of claim either in paper format or by email.

It won't matter terribly if the reader doesn't challenge it – but if the breeder does challenge it, then a judge may say that you have acted precipitately and that you might have avoided a legal action by taking your time, warning the breeder and giving the breeder an opportunity to propose a solution. If the judge finds that that is the case then although you would win your case, the judge may decide that it would be inappropriate to allow you to recover the costs of the action and you may find that you would not be awarded these.

I think it might be an idea to tell us exactly what you have done – lay out in a bullet pointed chronology.

I'm afraid it sounds to me as if you may have acted rather too quickly

Incidentally, who advised you that because the puppy was in a poor condition, that you would be entitled to get reimbursement of the price of it?

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30th of august picked puppy up

 

30th of august puppy admitted to vetinary hospital.

 

Kept in contact with breeder and mebtioned immediately they will need to cover costs of vet bills. 

 

Breeder stated they couldn't afford it I reminded them they had just made £4500 from selling puppies. 

 

Puppy came home 1st of September I contacted breeder with full costs at that point. 

 

Breeder phoned vets that day and contacted us and said they won't be paying so for us to proceed with legal action.  This was all by text. 

 

I am not harassing someone who clearly isn't going to pay.  How slow should I have taken things? 

 

The money claims team advised me that the letter of claim was irrelevant as I have full proof i tried to discuss with the breeder the costs and also they told me to continue with court claim.

 

 

From reading online forums it was what I had gathered was the norm.   But in honestly the main point here is to get the reimbursement of the medical costs we have paid back. 

 

 

 

Edited by Mrsrsj
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While I'm sorry to say that the court staff are all very nice but very often under trained because they are part of an over worked and under resourced service.

There is very clear pre-action protocol which would require a clear warning that you are about to commence legal action. If you did telephone and they told you to go ahead with legal action then that will certainly help you but if you do this kind of thing again then I suggest that you will be safer following the rules which are contained on the County Court website in respect of the pre-action protocol.

If this goes to a hearing – or even to mediation then be prepared for a challenge that you didn't observe the pre-action protocol. What evidence do you have of the phone call in which the defendant told you to go ahead?

Applying the pre-action protocol is not harassing anyone. It's not a question about going slowly, it's about going methodically and making sure that you don't leave any weaknesses in what you do so that you are best able to establish your arguments and to show that you have followed the procedures so that there is no question as to your success.

Please will you post up the claim form. I've asked you to do that already. Please post it up in PDF format.

Has the breeder acknowledged the claim yet? Has the breeder filed a defence? You should post up any defence in PDF format here as well.

 

 

You haven't told us who gave you the advice that you could recover the cost of the puppy if it was in poor condition

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It was via text message not phone call so I have it in black and white from their number. 

 

The hearing is on the 6th of October via video link. I will send the claim forms on here now. 

 

 

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So if there is a hearing that means that they have filed a defence. Please will you post this  up as well. I have to say this is incredibly quick if you have only recently issued the claim. What date did you issue?

Once again, who was it who advised you that you could recover the cost of the puppy if it was in bad condition?

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Also, I notice that although you have told us the vet costs, you haven't told us how much you paid for the animal

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I have answered this above. I read it online i have also said the breeders gave replied. 

Quote

 

Reason for claim: 3.1. I bought a puppy from breeders 

3.2. I have had lots of contact and asked numerous times if the puppy had any eye issues as he is a shar pei. 3.3. We were told no on numerous occasions which I have evidence of via messages.

3.4. We collected the puppy Sunday the 30th of August.

3.5. On arrival the puppy was covered over his face in mucus. I mentioned to breeder and asked her to wipe him. She said it was fine and wiped him. We assumed it was poor hygiene on her part.

3.6. When we came home and spent some time with the pup we realised something wasnt right. As he could still not open his eyes. He had not opened them once since us going to the breeders house.

3.7. With in 4 hours he was in an emergency vet hospital he has since had tacking on his eyes and we still arent aware of the full extent of his damage. Had the breeders had his eyes tacked at 3 weeks when they should have it would have cost them around £100 instead theyve neglected him and been deceitful to us.

3.8. Theyve refused to make any payments towards the puppys vetinary costs

 

 June 2020 we made contact after being advised breeder was due to have shar pei puppys

5th July 2020 they were born

7th July 2020 we paid a £200 deposit for our puppy

30th August 2020 we collected our puppy and paid remaining 700 and

puppys microchip was then changed to our details by breeder

30th August 2020 we took puppy to vetinary hospital

31st August 2020 Puppy came home we have the full records of everything ouppy had and wen through in those 24 hours. We only had puppy at home for 4 hours Evidence: Letters, emails and other correspondence Whats ap messages, Expert witness Vets full account of puppys health issues 4. Claim amount details Claim amount items: Puppy £900 Expenses for sick puppy £800 Interest rate claimed: 8% Explanation: The claimant reserves the right to claim interest under Section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984 Date interest is claimed from: 1 September 2020 Explanation: From the date the claim was issued Interest end date: Interest will accrue at the daily rate of £0.37 up to the date of judgment

I'm not adding as of as it has details of my home and breeders name and home 

 

The puppy was 900

 

 

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You should tell us details of the breeder as well as that will protect other people who might also end up with a similar problem.

So I understand that you are claiming £900 for the puppy and £800 for the veterinary costs.

I'm not sure how much you paid in fees for this – but it may well be that if you are awarded costs, the costs which will be awarded will be calculated on the value of the amount you are eventually awarded.

So in principle, you should report a claim for £800 – veterinary fees and so in principle you should be awarded the costs of bringing a small claim for that value.

Please will you post up the defence that you have received.

Once again, this is startlingly fast if you have issue the claim, received a defence and a hearing date has been fixed for 6 October. I think it's unprecedented

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Defendant’s response

Quote

 

I dispute all the claim Why they dispute the claim

2.1. I dispute the claim because the puppy had been seen by my vet and given the all clear of Entropian.

2.2. Buyer spent 45 minutes here, at myhomee, inspecting and spending time with her new puppy. After this inspection she was happy to pay the balance of £700 and take the dog. This would indicate all was fine at time of purchase.

2.3. I dispute her claim for the cost of the dog. She is in ownership of the dog. It has not been returned to me. 2.4. I dispute the vet costs on the basis that buyer tried to bully us into paying £1400 for emergency vet fees. She told us she would take us to court if we did not immediateley make payment. Yet case states vet fees of £800. We have messages to prove this.

2.5. Buyer states the dogs eyes had never opened. We have pictures proving otherwise. Buyer was also sent these prior to purchase.

2.6. Buyer states eyes should of been tacked at 3 weeks. I have an email from the head of Swansea Council animal services stating that eyes are not normally tacked until 5 months old, if needed at all.

2.7. I dont feel that ive been decietful at all. Instead i feel victimised. Buyer demanded far more money from me than is listed in this claim. 2.8. We did not have a contract for sale of puppy. According to the citizens advice bureau that means there are no consumer rights regarding the sale. Defendant’s timeline of what happened 5th July 2020 Puppies were born

7th July 2020 buyer paid a deposit of £200

. 8th Jul-30 Aug 2020 Kept in touch via Whatsapp group. Pictures sent on daily basis to buyer and others regarding all puppies. Picture sent showing puppies eyes open.

26th August 2020 Puppies seen at Lakeside vets, Swansea. Given first injections and microchips along with all clear to leave Mum. Mrs buyer notified that her puppy had an undecended testitcle. She was happy to proceed with purchase.

30th August 2020 Mrs buyer attended my home to collect her puppy. She spent 45 mins here whilst the puppies were eating and being cleaned as per normal routine. She spent some time inspecting her dog and stated that she was happy to pay the outstanding balance and left with the dog.

30th August 2020 Eve Messages from buyer stating the dog was ill and making demands for large sums of money.

31st August Messages from buyer making demands for a far large sum of money than listed in the claim. Our vet told us the true cost of the operation would be a third of the sum she was asking for. We notified her that we would not be paying as i felt victimised and bullied by buyer

Photo evidence Photo of buyer dog with eyes open Expert witness Vets account that puppies were free of Entropian Letters, emails and other correspondence Email from head of animal services at Swansea Council stating no eye tacking normally until 5 months old disputing 3 week old claim. Other Whatsapp messages showing unreasonable demands for a far greater sum of money for vets fees than is listed in claim.

 

 

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with regards to costs being different they are correct. 

 

All together we originally paid vets 1400 pounds they then refunded us after we challenged some of the costs and they refunded us part. Hence only claiming for the 800. 

 

We had one photo with the puppys eyes open but whose to say it was even him and that's irrelevant as the state of him when we got him home wasn't the same state as any previous photos. 

I contacted swansea council and they told me that they hadn't said that to them and quoted to me what they actually had said via email. 

 

 

After all is said and done ill happily name breeder but I dont want both our addresses being online for all to see. 

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Thank you.

I'm sorry that you feel that you have to protect the breeder. It's unfair to the animals and it's unfair to other potential purchasers. If you win the case then I think you should publish all the details.

As you can see, the breeder is challenging your claim for the cost of the puppy because you still have possession of the puppy. On that point the breeder will be successful and quite frankly I would surrender that point as quickly as possible because you will be better off arguing winners rather than maintaining the weak part of your case.

The dispute as to the original amount that you were claiming from the breeder I'm afraid undermines your position in respect of your failure to observe the correct pre-action protocol.

Although you obtained a refund later on, the fact is that you moved very quickly and as far as the breeder knew, they were resisting a claim for £1400 vets fees – and on that basis, they were absolutely correct and your claim form now shows that they were correct to resist that.

I'm afraid that a slower and more careful approach would probably have given time for your negotiation with the vet to have produced the reduction which you eventually received – and even if it hadn't, at least you could have shown that all of the steps you took were completely justifiable given your state of knowledge at the time.

I wonder if you explained all of this to the MoneyClaim staff when you talk to them about the necessity for a written or telephoned warning that you are going to bring a claim.

 

I think you are likely to win the case – but with the caveat that I have outlined above, especially in respect of costs. I think you are likely to be awarded costs of a claim for £800 – but there is an element of doubt in respect of that the basis that you failed to observe the pre-action protocol correctly and it is clear that the breeder is well aware of this and has made a point of referring to this in their defence.

So your chances of recovering your £800 are good. Your chances of getting all of your costs are slightly less good.

However, I can imagine that the breeder will be obtaining their own statements and so for from their own vet. I can imagine that their own vet will not want to be shown up for having missed some important indications of a disease and so I expect that the breeder's veterinary statements will be extremely supportive of the breeder's case.

You will need to marshal as many statements and as much evidence as you can. On that basis of course your own vet's statement will be important – but also some corroborative evidence of how this disease develops and how long it is likely to have been present et cetera and why the breeder's vet might have missed it. This will be extremely useful.

You may will have to pay a fee for this information and I would suggest that you send a warning to the breeder that you will be looking to get this corroborative evidence and that if a fee is involved then you will be asking the court to include this as part of the award when you eventually win the case.

Unfortunately, you haven't included the costs of this kind of evidence in your claim – and that's because you move very quickly before being fully prepared in terms of evidence. I hope you don't have to go down this route again, but I suggest that if you do, that you bide your time a little more and make sure that you have got all your evidence together and you understand exactly what the costs might be of evidence gathering and so forth before you then go ahead and issue your claim.

Of course best of all will be that you come here first.

When I say that I expect that you will win, I would say that your chances are better than 80%. Normally I prefer much higher odds than that but you have issue the claim and so clearly you will have to go ahead with it.

Can you confirm that the hearing really is on 6 October? Has there been an directions questionnaire? I wonder whether it is possible that you have interpreted the deadline for the submission of the directions questionnaire as being the date of a hearing. Even directions questionnaire by 6 October would be very fast but as I have said, a hearing date of 6 October would be really quite remarkable

 

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Amazing. Have you exchanged court bundles? Were you given the opportunity to choose mediation?

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Also, you will be bringing your action under the consumer rights act, on the basis that the item you bought was not of satisfactory quality. This is your cause of action

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I have to email over all evidence to the court. No one has mentioned court bundles? 

 

Breeder opted for mediation. I did not

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Have a look at our guide on preparing your court bundle. It may help you with the way you produce it.

I think in the circumstances it's a shame that you rejected mediation and this also might influence the judge's approach to awarding you costs.

Anyway we will be very interested to follow what happens and to know the result.

If you have any questions then feel free to ask.

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Incidentally, in case you think that I'm simply being negative about what you've done, I certainly congratulate you on the very businesslike and assertive approach you have taken. I think it could have been handled more methodically and to your greater advantage – but I have to say that most people shilly-shally around and that's not something we could ever accuse you of!

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Thank you. At this point I'm not sure how right or wrong I am. 

 

But based on our conversation this evening I have gone back to the breeder via message and pointed out to them that I offer them one final chance to settle at 900 pounds. 

 

They informed me their vets only said this treatment would cost 500. The same vets who don't notice a puppy who cant open his eyes. 

 

And they are willing to settle at 500 as a gesture of good will. Ha! And this is why they wanted to mediate  to put this offer over. I advised that we wouldn't take less than 900 as a settlement. They arent interested.

 

I had to be quick as the money we used is our savings for some private health treatment we need to back in our banks by next month so really left me no choice but to bite the bullet and try and get this solved sooner rather than later  

 

I appreciate your advice and hope the courts understand the full picture. 

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I suggest that you write to the breeder immediately with a copy to the court and concede the cost of the puppy and also concede the excess costs for bringing that element of the claim.

you will simply be conceding two points which frankly I don't think you can possibly win and it means that you're left with claims which are entirely winnable. Moreover the gesture of having written to the breeder making these concessions will show that you have tried hard to avoid litigation  and trouble and inconvenience to the court.

even if the breeder refuses it, it will go to your credit that you have done this.

 

 

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