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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Addie's Story

Making the decision to get a family pet is not an easy one, and should not be taken lightly.  It is a commitment to be made for the life of the pet.  This is the tale of one family who decided to join the ranks of pet guardianship.
After much family deliberating, a young family decides it is time for a pet.  The kids are young, but not too young.  They considered the commitment it would take, the chores it would require, the expenses involved, the time needed.  They discussed as a family what would need to be done to care for a pet and agreed that they were ready.

The family went to the local pet store.  After all, that is where you get a pet, right?  You see the puppy in the showroom of your local pet store and cannot bear the thought of leaving without it. You are in love.  You are hooked.  The family went home that day with an adorable little yellow Labrador Retriever puppy. 

This was the family's first pet, and it was a special time for everyone involved.  They named the puppy "Addie", and Addie was a very lucky dog to be in such a caring family.  The family did everything "right".  They followed their veterinarian's recommendations to a "T".  They took Addie to doggie school.  They brought her on their vacations rather than leave her behind.

The young children were thrilled to have a new puppy. They ran with her.  They played with her.  They dressed her up.

They cuddled in bed with her.

They had monthly birthday parties for her. 

What could be better for a parent than to watch such a marvelous interaction between their children and a puppy?  It was not just a puppy learning to behave and do tricks.  It was a family learning to love, care for, and respect a new life in their home.

 Addie seemed to be a happy, loving, and healthy puppy.  She played.  She ran.

She ate.  She slept.  She climbed stairs.

She was as fun and as mischievous as any puppy should be.

But the family noticed a few odd things about Addie, even when she was tiny.  When she would lay down, she did not always seem comfortable.  She never spread her legs out back like a frog when laying down. There was something strange about the way she ran.

As time passed, and Addie grew larger and heavier, the few odd things became more noticeable.  Her gait became more unusual.  Her ability to lay down and get back up became more like an old dog, rather than the puppy she still was.  Her willingness to jump or stand on her hind legs was significantly less enthusiastic.

With great concern, they took her to their veterinarian.  An exam was completed and x-rays were taken.  The results did not surprise Addie's Mom, but the prognosis did.

The family was informed that their beautiful, "healthy" Lab puppy had severe hip dysplasia.  Addie's hip dysplasia was so severe, that the veterinarian informed them that even with surgery, they would be forced to carry her around.  They would need to carry her up and down the stairs that were throughout their house as a result of the pain from the deformity.  She would be unable to do it on her own.  She would likely lose the ability to walk.

The family left their veterinary hospital with  pain relievers for Addie.  What they needed were pain relievers for their hearts.  While Addie left the veterinary clinic unaware of her prognosis, her owners were painfully aware of it, and now had to talk to their children about it.

After many words, and even more tears, the family was fully aware that at some point in her young life, Addie, their puppy, would need to be euthanized when her pain became intolerable.

They consulted the pet store where they purchased Addie about her health condition.  To their dismay, a letter from their veterinarian about Addie's condition would not suffice.  For the warranty to be honored, they were required to return Addie to the pet store.  She would in turn be returned to the breeder and "euthanized".  The pet store would then be given "credit" for the puppy's return, and the family could receive a new puppy at no charge when they were ready.  There would be no reimbursement for the extensive veterinary bills they had already accumulated.  There would be nothing to repair the hearts of the children that fell in love with their first pet only to lose her in just a few short months.

Unfortunately, most breeder warranties contain clauses similar to this.  The warranty often requires return of the puppy if for any reason the dog is deemed unhealthy by a veterinarian.  Once returned, a "replacement" is given. 

When a severe condition is discovered, it may not be life threatening but may be life altering, and unless you plan to give that dog back to the breeder or pet store, you receive no credit, and rarely any money back on purchase price.  You are left to accrue veterinary bills on your dog's health problems with no recourse.  Many warranties bank on the fact that you love the animal enough to not return it.  But in Addie's case, her condition was not repairable, not livable, and would cause her great discomfort.  Addie's family felt as though they had no other option.  They believed they were bound by a contract.

Addie became consistently more troubled by her hips.  She was in and out of their veterinarian's office.  She was on different types of pain relievers.  Soon, none of them were helping.  Her stiffness and pain was evident on a daily basis.  The medications were altering her personality.  At eight months of age, Addie stopped wanting to eat.  She became very lethargic, no longer wanting to play the way an eight month old puppy should.  After a final consult with their veterinarian, the family knew the time had come.

As a final farewell, the family took Addie on her final vacation.  They took her to Lake Michigan, where she could stand and play in the water that she loved so much. 

Shortly after they returned home, the family decided it was Addie's time.  After the children said their tearful goodbyes to their first puppy, who was still a puppy, Addie was heartbreakingly returned to the pet store to satisfy a contract. 

Everything about the situation sickened Addie's Mom, but she thought she was doing the right thing by Addie and felt bound to the agreement that they signed when purchasing that cute pet store puppy.

They left the pet store in a state of grief, knowing that their puppy would soon be euthanized, and they were returning to a house where their children sat heartbroken.  The puppy they purchased, thinking they would share 8-10 years of love, was loved immensely by a family for only six short months.

They thought this was the end of Addie's story, but was it?

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ameow2002 said...

Pretty sure i know how this ends but i am already so angry that i want to scream!!!!

Mel Battison said...

I can't even imagine where this is going..

Marilyn Kiefer said...


Addie's Family said...

Dr. Lisa, we couldn't have told our story any better!
You did The Addie Story justice
Thank you !

Jennifer Currie Rose Depp said...

I actually feel ill thinking of all the scenarios - I'm praying for a miracle. :( I wish more vets were aware of where pet store puppies come from so maybe this family could have been warned. That's why it's important that these stories be told.

Bonnie Drescher said...

As a Lab lover and having been owned by many Labs - one with severe hip dysplasia and who lived to the age of 14 - hope you post something soon - this is just killing me I tell you!

Mary E Morris Maloney said...

Hope this has a happy ending. Weren't they told about surgery. The breeder should pay for it.

Joan Hutson-Windschitl said...

I too hope this has a happy ending but wonder about how such a "loving" family would take her back to be euthanized alone.. all for a replacement? Glad they dont have warranties on people !!!

Sharon H. said...

This story doesn't ring true so far. What family who loved a dog would return it to the stinking dirty pigs who sold it, to allow it to be put to sleep without them holding her to comfort for that last moment of her life. Something don't sound right here, only when you adopt from a shelter, I was aware that there is a contract to return the pet to the shelter if you can no longer care for it, but even then....the heart should rule the mind and turning your pet over to someone who doesn't give a damn about it in the first place doesn't make any sense....I hope this has a happy ending because it's sure sucks to think anyone is stupid enough to do this.

Nancy said...

;-)) Ah! OK ;-0

PLEASE just tell me she did NOT end up thrown in a truck back to soMO or some other puppy mill hellhole to die at the hands of a puppy miller .... my heart is breaking just thinking about it. We take in all kinds of puppy mill dogs and here in MO we rescues know exactly what happens to "returned" pet store pups. There is an 11th level of hell reserved just for people involved in such events.

Thanks, your blog is terrific and I'm so thrilled to know (well, e-know) a vet who is also a rescuer! Wish we could clone you ...

Bonnie Drescher said...

My first instinct was to judge Addie's owners. However I think we can all look back on our lives and say we would have handled a situation differently. And yes when it comes to animals myself included. My second instinct is to judge VRB for not posting the rest of the story yet..... juss sayin' ;0-)

Marilyn Kiefer said...


Anonymous said...

I think the next chapter in this story is that we should all commit to bringing about the end of puppy mills. The recent legislature overturn of the will of the people in Missouri should be the starting point. Education,education and more education is needed to raise the awareness of these torture chambers for animals.

Marge Nerness said...

Another reason to adopt from an animal shelter, not buy from a puppy mill

Ann Krogman Miller said...

We got our beagle from our vet after a lady gave it to a friend - it came from a "pet store". Wish they would outlaw puppy mills!

Holly Adix said...

Well...what happend?

Adele said...

This is a sad story...... So far. What happened..... Please continue.

Jane Roberts said...

My first thought was how could this family put a warranty above their love for Addie and then I had a feeling that I shouldn't have judged. I know there is going to be a miracle for "the rest of the story" and I can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine EVER abandoning a loved member of the family - when you take on the responsibility of a pet you accept all that it brings with it - the good and the bad. I DEFINATELY would never "return" her like a defective piece of equipment - if, after trying everything to help her - you should stay with her until the end and love her. I hope this story has a surprise and wonderful ending.

Emily Rogeness said...

Surgery was never a thought in anyone's mind? I know many dogs who've had severe hip dysplasia and been treated for it and done well. I'm missing something where the only option was to return the family pet to the pet store to be euthanized by strangers..............I'm not saying they are bad people just wondering what kind of medical advice they got when their very young dog was given this prognosis. It must have devastated them and they must have been thinking of dealing with this as quickly and as surgically as possible for the sake of their children. So Addie went away........

Donna Jefferson said...

When we bought our lab, we were given a "warranty". He had to have surgery on his eye lids at 3 months of age and he, too, has severe hip problems. To get a refund, we had to return him to the breeder. We were in love with him so that wasn't an option. We just paid for his eye surgery and medication, as needed, for his hip. I will NEVER buy another dog.