Vancouver, WA asked in Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: Can a dog breeder sue a puppy buyer for euthanizing the dog after purchase? Can they win?

The contract does not say anything about behavioral euthanasia or euthanasia in general. The contract includes a standard first right of refusal clause (if you can't keep the dog you must return the dog to the breeder to keep it out of shelters/rescues/pounds etc). The puppy has been legally purchased and owned by the buyer for at least 6 months. The puppy has been diagnosed with several types of aggression by a veterinary behaviorist and behavioral medication is not helping. Breeder has threatened to sue if puppy is euthanized.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, a dog breeder may potentially sue a puppy buyer if they euthanize the dog, especially if the contract includes a first right of refusal clause. This clause generally means that if the buyer cannot keep the dog for any reason, they are obligated to return it to the breeder instead of making other arrangements, including euthanasia.

However, the success of such a lawsuit would depend on various factors. The court would consider the specific terms of the contract, the circumstances surrounding the euthanasia decision, and whether the first right of refusal clause is applicable and enforceable in this situation. The fact that the puppy has been diagnosed with severe aggression and the ineffectiveness of behavioral medication might be significant factors in the court's decision.

If the breeder decides to pursue legal action, it would likely be under the claim of breach of contract. Yet, without explicit terms in the contract regarding euthanasia, the outcome is not straightforward. Legal advice based on the specific details of the case would be crucial in this scenario.

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