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How to File a Complaint Against a Dog Breeder

Camila Lopez - Pets - December 4, 2023

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    Dogs offer companionship, emotional support and so much more. Unfortunately, dog breeders sometimes sell sick or injured dogs to unassuming purchasers. If you have had an unpleasant experience with a dog breeder, you may want to file a complaint against the breeder or bring a small claims lawsuit.

    In this article, we go over 5 ways on how to file a complaint against a dog breeder:  

    1. Demand Letter. Send a demand letter to the dog breeder. 

    2. Government Complaint. File a complaint with the agency that regulates dog breeders.

    3. Private Association Complaint. File a complaint with the American Kennel Club.

    4. BBB. File a Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint against the dog breeder. 

    5. Small Claims Court. Sue the dog breeder in small claims. 

    Save this article for future reference as you may need to try multiple ways of filing a complaint to resolve your problem with the dog breeder.

    Did you know that we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to a dog breeder?  Check out our demand letter tool.

    Common Types of Complaints Against Dog Breeders

    Here are some common complaints people have against dog breeders:

    • You were sold a sick dog

    • You were sold an injured dog

    • The dog breeder misrepresented or failed to disclose a fact about the dog

    • You thought you purchased a purebred dog

    • You want to recover from your contract for sale of a “defective dog”

    Consider this story:

    You just purchased a puppy for your family from a dog breeder. The contract stated that the puppy was purebred and all the paperwork you received from the dog breeder stated the dog was a purebred and its parents were also purebreds. You wanted a purebred puppy to train and take to dog shows and for the companionship a dog offers. You soon realize that the puppy was not purebred and even worse quickly starts getting sick. Unfortunately, the dog does not recover and your dreams of companionship and championship glory are crushed. What do you do? In this case not only can you file a complaint against the dog breeder, but also consider suing the dog breeder for your damages.

    Option 1: Send a Demand Letter

    demand letter outlines the problem you are having with the dog breeder, what action you would like the dog breeder to take, and a deadline for when they need to take that action. 

    For example, if the dog breeder sold you a sick puppy, you could proceed to write a demand letter demanding reimbursement for the cost of the puppy that you paid them.

    Here is what you can consider including in your demand letter: 

    • How much money you are owed.

    • Why are you owed money.

    • Where to send payment. 

    • A deadline when you expect a response. 

    A demand letter is an effective and affordable way to let the dog breeder know you are serious about your complaint and are willing to escalate the problem until they have resolved it. 

    Did you know that we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to a dog breeder?  Check out our demand letter tool.

    Here is a video on how our demand letter tool works:

    Option 2: File a Complaint with the Department of Agriculture 

    Some dog breeders are regulated and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act. If a dog breeder sold you a sick dog, you may consider contacting the USDA as it may be a sign their dogs are not living under the required living conditions in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

    To check if the dog breeder is licensed with the USDA, check out the USDA Animal Care public search tool

    If the dog breeder falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA, here is how to file a complaint:

    1. Online by using the USDA Animal Welfare Complaint form

    2. By phone at one of USDA’s regional offices, Eastern Regional office: (919) 855-7100 or Western Regional office: (970) 494-7478

    If the dog breeder is not under the jurisdiction of the USDA, you will need to research if your state regulates dog breeders and proceed with the other options we list in this article.

    Option 3: File a Complaint with the American Kennel Club

    While you can file a complaint about a dog breeder to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the American Kennel Club doesn't take enforcement action against dog breeders (“the AKC does not license or endorse anyone engaged in the commerce of selling purebred dogs and, therefore, has no control over the business practices of those involved in such transactions.”). They will, however, reach out to the breeder. It is unclear what happens after the AKC reaches out to the dog breeder.

    Option 4: File a BBB Complaint

    Still haven’t resolved your complaint? Consider filing a BBB complaint.

    The BBB is a nonprofit organization with the goal of promoting transparency between businesses and consumers by providing information and resources to consumers to help resolve disputes with businesses. 

    Despite not having the authority to force a dog breeder to resolve consumer complaints, a dog breeder may respond to BBB complaints for the following reasons: 

    • Businesses accredited with the BBB can have their accreditation revoked if they do not respond and the complaint would become part of their profile. 

    • Unaccredited businesses will have the complaint become part of their BBB profile. 

    • Negative BBB reviews can hurt a business’s reputation. 

    Before filing the BBB complaint, review the dog breeder's profile on the BBB to determine if they have a history of responding to complaints. If they have left their complaints unresponded to, you may be wasting your time filing a complaint with the BBB.

    Once you file your complaint against the dog breeder, the BBB will forward your complaint to the towing company within 2 business days. The dog breeder will be asked to respond within 14 days and you will be notified of the business’s response when the BBB receives it or if the business fails to respond. 

    Learn more about filing a complaint with the BBB.

    Option 5: Sue in Small Claims Court

    If your previous attempts at resolution have been unsuccessful, it may be time to take the dog breeder to small claims court. 

    Each state has a different process for small claims court, so make sure to check out our 50-state guide to small claims court

    Here are some quick facts about suing a dog breeder in small claims: 

    • The maximum amount you can sue for ranges between $2,500 and $25,000. 

    • The filing fees range between $0 and $125.

    • You may also need to pay to notify the the dog breeder about the lawsuit (serving), and this can range from $0 and $125. 

    Here is a checklist of potential evidence you will need:

    • The contract for the sale of the dog 

    • Communications with the dog breeder or their office

    • Pictures of the dog 

    • Documents that the dog breeder gave to you when you purchased the dog

    • Declarations from witnesses, the dog breeder, or any other relevant individuals 

    One of the first steps individuals take before suing in small claims court is sending a demand letter. We have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to a dog breeder.  Check out our demand letter tool.


    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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