Bull Dog Breeders Raise Prices On Pups

Michael wrote us in about his experience trying to buy an expensive, pure-bred bulldog pup from Sharon and Mitchell Hipsley of Bulldogs of Ft. Mountain. When he approached the breeders for a small male bulldog pup, he was quoted a price of $1650 per pup. But when Michael tried to close the deal, the breeders claimed that they’d been hit by a financial emergency relating to the death of one of the breeder’s mother and so they were only going to be able to sell him the pup for $2500. Michael is wondering what he can do to get the pup at the original price.

We’re going to give our opinion before the email: why not save your $2500 and go to the pound and get a puppy for free? We don’t want to appear flip, but we do have a hard time putting the purchase of a $2500 or even $1650 purebred in perspective when there are thousands of puppies out there waiting to be loved, who cost nothing and who are facing euthanization.

As for Bulldogs of Ft. Mountain, granted, it’s extremely crappy of them to raise the price on you after a verbal agreement has been struck, and you probably do have legal recourse. But our impression of the email they sent you was that it had the rambling, awkward quality of someone who was telling the truth and really was hard-up for cash due to personal misfortune. That doesn’t excuse a breached deal, of course, but we’d leave legal action out of it and content ourselves with not giving them our business.

Perhaps we’re off base here, perhaps we don’t understand the world of dog breeding or the types of people who want to own incredibly expensive pure-bred when a mutt will be just as devoted and lavish you with just as much love. We’re not making a judgment call… we just don’t get it. But when the solution is to get a dog for free and simply not to bother suing a couple of people who appear to have had a rough few months, we think that’s the path to take.

Michael’s email after the jump:

Dog Breeders go from the range of Salt of the Earth to Horrible Bastards from hell.

The Horrible Bastard end of the spectrum is filled up with people who run puppy mills. Puppy mills churn out animals with little care for their health or breeding. Many pet stores are supplied from these abhorrent places.

Sharon and Mitchell Hipsley aren’t in that horrible group, but the fact they appear to treat their dogs well does not excuse their appaling business practices.

On March 27th, my Fiancee and I started communicating with them via email about their new litter. They wrote back (apologies for the formatting, that is theirs):

“Dear Alexa. I’ve attached Pictures of the Pups. 5 Females and 4 Males and one of the whole litter. The Prices are $1500.00 for the Females and $1650.00 for the Males. These prices are only for the People who contacted us before the Pups were born. Advertising costs drive up the prices if we have to sell them through our Web Site. You are 2nd on our list, but first come first served. These Pups are so fat. Nemo sure took her time to make sure they were well done before she had
them. It was a very long weekend, because she was due on the 23rd. Sincerely. Mitchell & Sharon Bulldogs of Ft. Mountain. “

We discussed getting the smallest male from them (over the phone). We offered to give them a deposit, to which they said “None is necessary”. We emailed and called them repeatedly on the weekend of the 27th of April (the puppies were due to be ready to go home the 6th of May). They repeatedly did not pick up, and did not answer email.

On Monday, I called them from a different number and Mitchell picked up. He told me about their wonderful puppies for sale, and then I explained to him that I was the fiance of the woman he’d been speaking to. He then quickly got quiet, and then said “My wife deals with all the internet stuff, and is asleep. She’ll call you back by tonight”.

She didn’t. The following day, I emailed her about which puppy I wanted. (Listed on the website, (http://www.bulldogsofftmountain.com/) as Spike. She then wrote back to me.

“Dear Alexa. You told me that you wanted the smallest Male Pup. Well that Pup died. I wish that the Pup had lived and you would have a Pup. Sharon’s Mother was diagnosed with Malignant Lymphoma, We had to Pay Uncle Sam, We had 2 Bulldogs that needed Surgery. So in other words if we don’t get what prices we put on our Bulldogs we will no longer be Breeding Bulldogs. All I can say is I’m sorry and that this is the first time this has happened to us. I will give you a Discount on any Female Pup, but the Males I have to get what we’re asking for them. If you will get in touch with Karla Lowe at Ridgetop Bulldogs,. I’m sure she will have a Pup in your price range. Her E-mail is Pupluv@catt.com. We have used some of her Males for Stud Service at our Kennel. She has 30 Bulldogs and she taught me how to Breed Bulldogs. She’s a really great Breeder. She is only about 30 minutes North of our Kennel. If you are willing to pay the $2500.00 we have on Spike we’ll sell him to you. Some time things happen that we have no control over. And this is one of those times. We make our Living Breeding Bulldog and Chinese Sharpeis. I will give you the Pick of the Litter on Gordy’s Litter. Bubba will be the Sire of the Litter. Our Chinese Sharpeis are priced from $900.00 to $1500.00 and Sharpeis take care of their own Pups. No 24/7 Care No Artificial Inseminations, No C-Sections, No Feeding the Pups every 3 hours for a Month Then every 4 hours after 4 weeks old. We sold 3 of our Adult Bulldogs last year and bought 3 more Chinese Sharpeis and eventually we are going to get out of Bulldog Breeding. The Male Pups are of Stud Quality, because of Bubba’s Pedogree.We get $500.00 for Stud Service on Bubba and Dozier and Spike will also get $500.00 a Breeding. We live from Litter to Litter with the Bulldogs. One Litter pays for the next Litter. You can Stud a Bulldog out at 14 months old. I’m trying to open some doors for you. Most any other Bulldog Breeders wouldn’t even try to help no matter what the situation. They sell their Pups to who ever they choose. That’s the best we can do for you at this time. Sharon and I are so very sorry , but this litter will either make us or break us. And Sharon doesn’t need any more pressure put in her a this time when her Mother is battling for her life. She’s 79 years old. Again we are so sorry. Mitchell & Sharon.”

What recourse do I have? I’m not sure it’s wise to spend an extra $850 on an already expensive dog, especially when we have an offer in writing to sell us “2nd pick of the litter”. Especially when their reasonings goes: We knew the risks, then decided to attempt to raise the price on you when one of the risks happened, even though we didn’t state we’d do that if the risk happened, and besides, we don’t even LIKE doing this.

Are they contractually home free as they didn’t take any deposit?

Other than warn others about their untrustworthyness, what can I do?

What do you guys think? Any advice for Michael?

UPDATE: On 4/3/07, Mitchell Hipsley of Bulldogs of Ft. Mountain writes:

I’m the owner of Bulldogs of Ft. Mountain. I was very offended that your Web Site would allow someone to place a complaint against our Kennel without even knowing the circumstances of the complaint. Weather you know it or not is your Company can be sued by me for publishing this story without checking the validity of the compliant with me. I checked it out with my Lawyer who happens to own two of my English Bulldogs. Seems Michael is still fuming over the loss of getting one of our Pups. What I told him was the truth. He stated that he wanted the smallest Female Bulldog out of the Litter and that “Female” was the runt and it died. That’s not all that unusual with any runt in Purebred Canines. When I told Mike that the Pup had died he wanted me to sell him a “MALE ENGLISH BULLDOG” for the $1650.00 that I had quoted him. The Male Pup was $2500.00. He harassed me so much that I finally had had enough of his squalling. When he cursed my Wife over the Phone that was the straw that broke the camels back. If Mike would have received one of our Pups he’d be singing the praises of the Healthy AKC English Bulldog that he got from our Kennel. I wish this guy would just grow up, but to me it seems like he’s been spoiled and didn’t get his way. That’s what a Child does. Not a Mature Adult. Anybody who has never Bred English Bulldogs should just research the breed before making any uneducated suggestions to any Bulldog Breeder. If you would read in the article I reffered him to another Bulldog Breeder to see if she had any Female Pups at the price he was looking for. Any Bulldog Breeder knows that this is the most difficult Canine to Breed. The cost of just having a Litter is enormous. Mike had never been to our Kennel. My Kennel is in good standings with the AKC and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. You can check it out yourself. I tried to help Mike out but he blew his chance of ever getting one of our Bulldogs. I’m the one who makes the decision on who gets one of our Pups or who doesn’t. That’s what all Professional Breeders do. In fact some Breeders make you fill out an application to get one of their English Bulldog Pups. My Kennel is very well known because of all the Bulldog Pups that we have sold all over the United States. Our Canines receive the absolute best care. I’ve placed Pups with clients in The Government, but I won’t and can’t mention their names. It seems that some of the People who gave their opinion where on my side. So let Mikey cry all by himself. I hold no animosities with your company, you were just plain lied to. I just wish that you would have taken the time to research the compliant with me and heard the real truth. I always sell every one of my Pups and as far as my Mother in Law goes, she’s fighting for her life. She’s not dead as Mike said. I would appreciate you posting my side of the story. You just can’t please every body no matter how hard you try. I’m a small business Man and I’m proud of our Kennel and our Canines. I hope that Mike gets his turn at Breeding English Bulldogs. Then he will realize that he was spitting into the wind. I’m a devoted Animal Lover and anyone who wrote a suggestion on that article is free to visit our Kennel anytime. So I’ve wasted my time to dealing with a Child instead of an Adult. Sincerely. Mitchell Hipsley, Bulldogs of Ft. Mountain.

Comments

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  1. CorporationsAreAwesome says:

    Suck it up princess?

  2. Ben Popken says:

    Lisa writes:

    “Howdy!

    Reader Michael writes “Other than warn others about their untrustworthyness, what can I do?”

    First: Don’t buy that puppy from them! The breeder is clearly engaging in a “bait-and-switch!” (And I second your motion that they adopt instead!)

    And I’m wondering how exactly they know this operation is reputable and produces good pups under humane conditions? Because the website shows pictures of pretty mountains and a lovely little slice of puppy heaven? That’s no guarantee of anything at all–I can put up a website depicting myself as a supermodel when I’m really 5’3″ and 148 lbs. Just because a breeder is not “high volume” or only sells one or two breeds is no guarantee that they are quality. If Michael feels he must spent an exorbitant amount of money for a breed that is riddled with health problems ( http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/bulldogs.html, http://www.bulldoginformation.com/bulldogs-hereditary-defe… ) and is likely to cost him many times the outlandish purchase price in vet bills over the years, then he most certainly should only buy from a breeder whose facilities he has visited, and only if he has seen the sire and dam (or at least health records on the sire if he was an off-site stud.)

    The HSUS has more information abotu purchasing a puppy: http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_adoption_information/buying_a

    As for what he can do to warn others, the internet is swarming with forums and e-mail lists where people exchange information about dogs and experiences with breeders. One place to start is nopuppymills.com, but there are many more if he feelse like spending some time on Google.

    Lisa B”

  3. Jesse in Japan says:

    Have you considered getting a cat?

  4. RandomHookup says:

    My UCC is a little rusty, but there’s not much a court could do. Since the prospective buyer never provided consideration, there’s no contract. Without a contract, you can’t force someone to go through with the transaction.

    Not a lawyer and never played one on TV.

  5. Paul D says:

    Real men don’t “buy” dogs.

    If you want a dog, take your ass down to the pound and adopt one. There are too many perfectly lovable animals being euthanized for anyone to be paying $2000 for a pure(in)bred dog.

    What’s this world coming to?

  6. KevinQ says:

    RandomHookup: I, also, am not a lawyer, but I do believe that promise to perform is consideration. If one party says “I’ll give you a puppy if you give me $1650,” and the other party says “I accept” (or words to that effect) then you have an enforceable contract.

    That being said, there are so many good reasons to not buy from these people. First, if they’re lying, then they’re dishonest, and there’s no reason to believe anything they say about the health or quality of the pups. No real guarantee that they’re even purebred.

    But, if they’re telling the truth, then you’re negotiating to buy a dog (of a breed with health problems) with a family history of cancer, and a litter history of less-than-perfect health. Run, don’t walk, away from these breeders.

    K

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Constantine writes:

    “I have to respect the passionate desire to have a bulldog and the passionate feeling of Hey Just Go Get A Dog From The Pound. Fortunately there is a way to do both … here are links to two different bulldog rescue leagues.

    http://www.fbdcarl.org/

    http://www.rescuebulldogs.org/

    Be warned though: It’s hard to pick just one.”

  8. RandomHookup says:

    KevinQ is probably right concerning the enforceability of the agreement, however, here’s something I found on the Interweb:

    General rule: UCC 2-201(1) says that “a contract for the sale of goods for the price of $500 or more is not enforceable … unless there is some writing sufficient to indicate that a contract for sale has been made….” So an oral contract for goods at a price of $500 or more is unenforceable under the UCC. [301 – 302]

    Also reading through the soap opera, it doesn’t look like there was really a firm agreement, especially since the pup desired died.

    Lots of excuses equals someone you don’t want to do business with.

  9. tinfoil says:

    Perhaps I’m naive, but I believe their story. The breeder’s mother has some significant health problems that are going to cost the family some incredible amounts of cashish, so they are doing what they need to do to try and stay afloat.

    If she really is sick, I think they’ve got bigger problems and for anyone to throw lawyers on them would only be adding salt to the wound.

    As CorporationsAreAwesome put it, suck it up.

    Go to the pound and pick up a puppy that is about to be put down and spend the rest on hookers and blow.

  10. KevinQ says:

    Thanks, RandomHookup – That’s the so-called “Statute of Frauds,”and I forgot about it on my Contracts exam last year, too.

    IIRC, you don’t need a written contract to satisfy the statute of frauds, you only need a writing that indicates that there was a contract. A letter or email saying “Thanks for agreeing to buy my dogs” would be enough in most courts.

    That being said, I still agree that the best course of action is to walk away from these people, and get your dog elsewhere.

    K

  11. any such name says:

    ugh. go to the pound – search petfinder, they have a considerable number of purebreds on there that were abandoned as well.

    and have you even considered the health problems that many purebread dogs bring? i.e. what is the mother dog sick with? is it something that may genetically be passed ont o the dog you want to buy?

    isn’t this all common sense???

  12. etinterrapax says:

    Leaving out the question of whether it’s a good idea to buy a purebred, I would be suspicious of these people just because they raised their prices mid-negotiation. Even if they are respectable and being honest about their needs, they would have to know that to ask $2500 suddenly leaves them open to getting nothing, whereas honoring their original offer of $1650 means that they have $1650. People who genuinely need money would rather have some than none. If you hold firm on the original price and they’d rather let you walk away, you know something’s up unless you were getting a real bargain and $2500 is closer to market price. I’d be reluctant to badmouth them all over the place, and I wouldn’t sue, but I wouldn’t give them their price out of sheer sympathy, either. It is not an insignificant amount of money to me, that $850.

  13. ikes says:

    two strange things i noticed:

    1) why would advertising on their own website cause them to raise the price on a dog?

    2) what kind of dog breeder can’t spell ‘pedigree’?

  14. Karmakin says:

    Buying a pure-bred pitbull?

    Ugh.

    I’ve seen things surrounding that scene that would turn you colors you didn’t even know existed. The problem is that most of those pitbulls are literally bred to be violent, and act as guard dogs for drug houses, at least in my experience.

  15. gte910h says:

    Those people don’t sell pit bulls. They sell english bulldogs.

  16. thejanna says:

    First, as an active volunteer in a dog rescue, I would like to thank Consumerist and everyone else for the suggestion of adoption. One of my volunteer duties is to check the rescue email, and it amazes me how many requests we get each day to save beautiful dogs from the pounds where they will be euthanized. That said, if you are going to go to a breeder, do some serious research and find a reputable one.

    Second, I want to respond to the comment that pit-bulls are bred to be violent. There are so many sweet, loving dogs who fit the “pit-bull” description that are euthanized each day because state laws and insurance regulations make it difficult for rescues to take them in. American Pit-Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are two breeds commonly called “pit-bulls.” The American Temperament Test Society provides temperament testing around the country for dog breeds, and gives a score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of the particular breed tested. In their most recent statistics, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a current passing rate of 83.5%, and the American Staffordshire Terrier passes at 83.3%. In comparison, The Golden Retriever passing rate is 83.7%. I’m not saying they have the best temperament of any dog, but I also don’t like seeing the spread of the belief that most of them are violent.

  17. I tend to be prejudiced against pit bulls because I was attacked by a pack of them when I was five. But your mileage may vary.

  18. RandomHookup says:

    John, are you sure it wasn’t dingoes? Cause dingoes are known for stealing babies.

  19. clever epithet says:

    Nonono. Dingoes ATE my baby. Totally different from stealing. Besides, what’s a dingo going to do with a baby? Pawn it? No fence’ll touch an infant younger than two.

    It must be pointed out that the breeders even gave Michael the name and e-mail of another breeder who would be more in their price range. That right there makes me think these people aren’t all bad (if lacking in writing skill). And too, he was talking to her about buying the smallest puppy. That dog died. I think that kinda negates the deal, doesn’t it?

  20. Ben Popken says:

    Lady Crumpet writes:

    “My sister has a white English bulldog and apparently lymphoma is
    endemic to the breed. Even though he’s only a couple of years old, he
    was diagnosed with it and recently had to go through an 8-week session
    of chemo. But his health issues seem to have existed since he was a
    puppy. He has allergies (he’s allergic to grass!), he has to eat
    special food, and with his build, he’s incapable of licking himself
    clean (meaning my sister has to wipe his butt). He’s a sweet dog, but
    incredibly high-maintenance, and given all his health issues, probably
    terribly inbred.

    I have cats – and they were all given to me by friends who believe in
    animal rescue. But if I didn’t have them, I’d certainly be getting my
    pet from the pound.”

  21. Mr. Soul says:

    Get a pot-bellied pig. Way cooler.

  22. x23 says:

    “John, are you sure it wasn’t dingoes? Cause dingoes are known for stealing babies.”

    i have a dingo. she hasn’t ate a baby yet.

    got her at the pound. via petfinder. i tell everyone about petfinder now… because it’s awesome and something more people should use.

  23. OkiMike says:

    What kind of pet-breeding operation is so paycheck to paycheck that they can’t honor the original price?

    Furthermore, advertising doesn’t cost anything on their website. It’s free if it’s their website!

  24. “What kind of pet-breeding operation is so paycheck to paycheck that they can’t honor the original price?”

    The kind where someone’s mother has a life-threatening illness and they desperately need money to help treat her. They explained that in their letter.

  25. Bubba Barney says:

    I am the world’s biggest bulldog fan, had two in my childhood, but they can be a sickly breed.

    Our last bulldog had to be put down because she had stomach/intestinal cancer.

    I would look at getting a bulldog mixed.

    Their weight complicates things.

  26. LLH says:

    does this idiot want a dog to breed himself or is he truly looking for a new best friend with fur? when the price of gas is nearly 4 bucks a gallon, when there is genicide in dufar (sp.?) oh, and when there are thousands of animals in pounds that need a good home (and if you can kick down 1650 for a dog you probably have a good home) something like this guys priorities makes me sick to my stomach.

  27. icky2000 says:

    So so so so so dumb. Why the hell would you pay even $1650 for a dog? Dog breeders are selfish bastards constantly contributing to the problem of millions of animals put to sleep every year because their dogs/their business is special and somehow worth it. The only good reason to buy a purebred is that you too want to get into this stupid industry in which case I hope you get consistently screwed out of getting into it and lose interest. Adopt an animal that is about to die.

    As for people defending the jacked price because of illness, that’s insane. If you go to the gas station and somebody suddenly wants $12 a gallon cuz his kid is sick, would you pay it? Of course we can all sympathize with illness and financial problems but if you want a handout, be honest about it.

  28. macks says:

    How do you spelll “Backyard Breeder”???
    No reputable breeder would dare to pull a stunt like this…
    While I understand that rescue is an optimun choice..not everyone wants to or can rescue..Some people WANT a particular breed of dog..And if they do.. the key is to buy that dog from a REPUTABLE breeder..one that shows thier dogs; does genetic testing; neuters/spays the pups BEFORE they go to the forever home.. and supports rescue..Not some scumbag who sees $$$$..

    Before you buy a dog.. RESEARCH…and then RESEARCH and then do some RESEARCH…

    And whatever you do..don’t buy from people like this..who will disappear the minute the check clears….