I want to talk about deposits this morning. You searched forever to find a breeder who you liked and one that was going to be having puppies. You found the breeder of your choice; paid your deposit that will hold a puppy for you in the upcoming litter. How exciting? The puppies are born and your puppy is one of them. You watch as they grow and wait with anticipation. As the weeks pass something changes; it could be a feeling or something in your life. Perhaps you start to feel anxiety; it may not be the right time for a puppy. Maybe the breeder has done something to get you to start second guessing your decision about one of their puppies. Whatever the reason, things changed and your mind is made up; it is not the time for you to add another puppy to your life. You call the breeder to let them know and ask about your deposit. "No, oh no, you signed a paper, you don't get it back." Legal? Yes. Right? No. At least not in my opinion.
When you decide to breed dogs; you take on a great deal of risk. There is risk in many things along the way; from conception, whelping, sales and placement. Much can be lost but you should have known that when you decided to breed dogs. Prospective puppy buyers will come and go; it is your decision alone whether to or not to sell a puppy to specific people. You can say no if you want; they are your puppies up until they are fully paid for and handed over.
Deposit amounts fluctuate from breeder to breeder; it can be anything from 100.00 - 1,000.00 with the final payment due before the puppy goes into the puppy buyers hands. Is it justified to keep someone's deposit money if they change their mind and decide not to take a puppy? Is it right to keep someone's money when they get nothing in return? After the entire litter is sold and you have the cost of each puppy and then some in your pocket; shouldn't you return the extra? One risk when you breed puppies is that you may end up with a couple who take a bit longer to place. It just goes without saying that this can and will happen from time to time.
I unfortunately know people who have taken a puppy so that they will not lose their deposit. How sad is that? Once a puppy leaves the breeders home; the breeder has no guarantee what will truly happen to that puppy. That puppy will hopefully have a wonderful long life; but what if someone just went through with acquiring the puppy so that they didn't lose their deposit? There is a good chance that they are going to resell that puppy or at least try to recoup some of their loss. Yes, even if they have signed a contract saying that the puppy must be returned to the breeder if they cannot keep it. People will do what they like; not everyone is ethical. They may think that they'll be able to resell it easily but when no one steps up to pay big money for their puppy they turn to the shelter. How awful is that? If someone changes their mind and decides against a puppy; I say return their money and sell the puppy to someone who does want it.
Money is tight for most people these days; losing a deposit can be an additional hardship. Why keep someone's money when they get nothing? I truly believe that asking for a deposit is enough to make people consider; before actually buying a puppy. Keeping it when they change their mind is another thing all together. If a prospective puppy buyer hands over their hard earned money because they are sure at that moment that they want a puppy, great. But life happens and keeping someones money who has either changed their mind or had something change in their life is just not right.
Recently I was interviewing Pet Sitters when one told me that if I cancelled two weeks before the booked date that I would owe the entire amount. I stood in shock and made sure before she left that there was no booking made and I'd let her know. If someone hired me as a trainer or photographer, paid and then changed their mind; I would not, could not keep their money. Even if I was miffed about it; I could not keep their money and feel okay about it. Puppies are far more important than a service that I would offer; that makes it even more important that they go to someone who truly wants them. Even if someone thought they wanted a puppy and then got cold feet about it.
As a breeder, you might want to hold onto a deposit for a while if someone backs out as hopefully "a lesson learned" point. This of course is my opinion as is the right to pull a sale at the last minute on the breeders side. Yes, I think the breeder has the right to stop a sale if things change. They may find out something that they hadn't known before and now they don't feel right about letting a puppy go to a particular home. Make the decision before the puppy is in the wrong hands; it is tough to get a puppy back after it is placed. But that is a topic for another blog altogether.
Every circumstance is different so there would be times when my recommendation would be to keep a deposit. But it would only be in a very rare situation that keeping someone's money would make sense when they did not get a puppy in return. I have read a great deal on both sides of the argument before writing this blog. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion as am I; mine is to give it back; ethical dog breeders don't take money for nothing, in my opinion.
The infamous saying "I don't do it for the money" isn't always the whole truth.