Consumer in dispute with Phoenix Coton breeder - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

CBS 5 Advocate

Consumer in dispute with Phoenix Coton breeder

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Phoenix woman says a breeder of exotic dogs took back her puppy, but won't give her a refund. This case offers a good example of an important step every family should take before buying a dog.

Before you see what the puppy is like in your home, you should see it in its natural environment first. If the breeder doesn't offer or allow that option, consider that a "red flag."

"We had researched for a Coton," Angela Rusch said.

Rusch wanted the unique dog as a companion for her autistic son. She found a Phoenix-breeder called Simply Grand Cotons, owned by a woman named Marilyn Smart. Rusch says prior to buying the pet, Smart did not offer her family an opportunity to interact with the dog at Smart's place of business.

"She placed a dog into a family, we've never met before. We never had the opportunity to visit and see her reaction - how it would be with small children," Rusch said.

Rusch signed a contract with Simply Grand Cotons, paid $2800 and Smart dropped the female Coton off at the Rusch house.

"She was aggressive. She bit my daughter twice, once on the face, once on the nose.  On the eighth day, I called her (Smart) and said it's not working out," Rusch said.

Rusch says Smart agreed to pick up the puppy and refund only $1500 if the puppy was healthy. Smart came and collected the dog, but Rusch says she reneged on the promised refund.

"Now she's saying she took the puppy to the vet and it's lost 25-percent of its body weight, which is completely impossible," Rusch said.

Smart told CBS 5 that she doesn't believe the Coton ever bit Rusch's child, and because of the alleged weight loss and trauma the dog experienced in the Rusch's care, no refund is warranted. She also says that, according to the contract, Rusch cannot take possession of the dog again and sell her to another family without Smart's express consent. Rusch says it's not fair that Smart is keeping both her money and the dog.

"Her response yesterday to my husband was 'You're not getting either,'" Rusch said.

Smart told CBS 5 she normally allows visits. She only discourages it when she has young puppies, which she claims was the case here.

All this may have been avoided if Rusch had taken vital steps before buying.

Consumers should demand an opportunity for their families to interact with any dog prior to buying, and always address possible temperament issues in the contract.

Rusch says she will seek remedy in small claims court.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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