A NSW woman has been awarded thousands of dollars after a puppy she purchased from a dog breeder was diagnosed with a congenital medical condition (a condition present from birth).
The woman purchased Bobby, an English bulldog, from a certified breeder in April 2022 for $6000.
At the time, Bobby was 12 weeks old, and the woman had been told before the purchase that all puppies from that litter and the previous litter were healthy.
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Weeks later, Bobby was urgently admitted to a veterinary hospital and was diagnosed with brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) — a congenital condition that impacts breathing and overall quality of life in dogs.
In June that year, Bobby was admitted to hospital again after a choking incident.
At the time, the woman spoke to the breeder about compensation.
The breeder offered a refund for the purchase of Bobby, to take him back into her care and to pay 50 per cent of the veterinary costs up to that date.
The woman declined that offer.
A few months later, Bobby was diagnosed with dysplasia (a growth deformity) in his front left elbow and both hips and was required to have anti-inflammatory medication, arthritis injections and joint supplements.
In July 2022, the woman applied to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking a refund and damages totalling $21,500, which she later increased to $43,130.
In her claim, the woman argued that before listing Bobby for sale, the breeder should have undertaken testing to ensure he did not have any congenital or chronic health conditions.
The breeder said she was unaware of any underlying health issues with the litter or Bobby, and that the health issues he displayed were common in the English bulldog breed.
The woman claimed the breeder breached Australian Consumer Law by making misleading and deceptive representations regarding the health of Bobby before the purchase and that Bobby was not of an acceptable quality.
In its decision, the tribunal found the breeder didn’t know Bobby had BOAS at the time of purchase.
The woman’s first claim was dismissed, but she was successful on her second claim that Bobby was not of acceptable quality.
However, the tribunal found the woman failed to mitigate her loss after declining the breeder’s offer of a refund in June 2022.
The breeder was ordered to pay half the woman’s vet costs up until the woman declined the offer, totalling $4365, and her legal fees.
The woman appealed the tribunal’s first decision and increased her claim of damages to $45,365.
In a decision handed down on Tuesday, the breeder was ordered to pay the woman $6000 to include the cost of purchasing the puppy and all the vet costs up until the offer of refund was made.
The tribunal ordered the breeder to pay the woman a total of $13,194.