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Reimbursement for dead dog rejected by B.C. tribunal

Winston the Yorkshire terrier began having walking problems and was then diagnosed with a liver condition before being euthanized.
A stock image of a Yorkshire terrier.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a small claims action by a man who wanted a refund for a deceased puppy he claimed died of a genetic disorder.

According to the Aug. 31 decision, Derek Geary bought the dog from Yorkshire terrier puppy breeder Gail Lewis for $3,500. Winston was the last puppy in his Sept. 9, 2020-born litter and was purchased a few months later on Nov. 7. 

The parties did not have a written contract for Winston’s purchase and there is no indication that Lewis gave any express warranties or guarantees about Winston’s health, tribunal member Kristin Gardner said.

By April, Winston was having walking problems. By July, he could hardly walk and a vet diagnosed him with a liver condition and prescribed medication. Sadly, Winston did not improve and was euthanized that August.

Shortly before Winston’s death, Geary’s father visited Lewis to advise her that Winston had a genetic disorder that had caused liver failure. Lewis and her husband told the senior Geary they would replace the puppy or refund Winston’s purchase price.

Geary said he would accept a replacement puppy as Lewis anticipated a new litter would be born that November.

When November came, Lewis called Geary to advise that she had changed her mind and would not be providing him with a new puppy. She offered Geary $1,500, which he accepted.

"Mrs. Lewis says due to the lack of proof of any genetic disorder, she was entitled to rescind her offer," the tribunal's ruling says.

Soon, though, Geary sent Lewis a letter demanding an additional $2,000 for the full refund she had previously agreed to. She said she had agreed to the $1,500 so no further discussion was warranted.

Geary argued that Lewis breached their agreement to provide a refund or a replacement puppy, and that she sold him a defective puppy with numerous health issues.

Gardner ruled Geary had accepted the $1,500 as a settlement.

In going to the tribunal, Geary sought a total of $4,759: $2,000 for the outstanding purchase price refund, $1,759 for Winston's medical expenses and $1,000 in "moral damages."

"I find he is not entitled to more,” Gardner said. “Therefore, I dismiss Mr. Geary’s claim for further compensation.”

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