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I was trying to buy a dog from a breeder (I’m in TX, the breeder is in PA). The breeder told me originally that it was okay to hold the puppy until the middle of December & after that it would cost $50/month, I had no issues with that.

But when I told the breeder the payment would be delayed a week or two it became a HUGE issue so I said I’m not dealing with all of this. I never signed a contract & I initially told the breeder I should be able to pay by the middle of December but wasn’t 100% sure.

I paid her $1400, will it be possible to get my money back or should I consider it a loss at this point? I don’t want to waste my money on attorney fees if I’m just going to lose.

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    In what way did it "become a huge problem"? E.g. they said they would charge interest? Or did they say "Okay, the price is now double", or "We're selling the dog to someone else"? It matters what they said first. Your answer was probably legally inappropriate. – user6726 Dec 10 '17 at 19:47
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    They no longer no wanted to hold the dog for me & put the dog back up for sale. But then wanted me to pay for the dog. Which is why I don’t my answer is legally inappropriate. I have screen caps of everything. She posted the dog back up for sale as soon as I told her that I couldn’t make the payment in the middle of December but still wanted me to pay in full. Why would I pay for a dog that is for sale? So she could sell the dog to someone else & take my money too? – V. Doe Dec 10 '17 at 22:14
  • Your question is extremely unclear as to what happened, e.g. when you paid the money, under what circumstances, what the agreed-upon price was, etc. – Acccumulation Dec 11 '17 at 4:13
  • I know & I’m sorry. So much happened in such a short period of time. I paid $1400 in December. I’m unclear as what you mean under what circumstances. The agreed price was $4000. – V. Doe Dec 13 '17 at 4:49
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Since there seems to be no written agreement, there is likely to be dispute over what was agreed on. The question of substance is when the remainder of the cost must be paid, given this understanding of "holding the puppy until the middle of December", coupled with the $50/month charge thereafter. While it is clear that you have an obligation to pay the remainder of the price, it is not at all evident that "pay the remainder by Dec. 15, or else" is a condition of the agreement. One could reasonably infer that you may render the remainder of the payment in February or later, given the $50/month option (however, that is very cheap, suggesting a misunderstanding). Given the facts as described, saying "I'll be a week or two late with the payment" is not obviously repudiation of the contract.

If the agreement were that you must pay the remainder by Dec 15 and immediately take possession (else pay $50/month for boarding – there has to be some reasonable interpretation of what any "per month" charge would be about), a declaration that you could not make final payment by the specific date could (remotely) constitute anticipatory breach of the contract. But even then, simply being late on the payment does not deprive the other party of most or all of the benefit of the contract (in this case, a sum of money), and is not grounds for terminating the contract. You being late by 2 weeks does not make completion of the contract pointless.

The breeder might maintain that final payment by the 15th was clearly a condition of the agreement, and if you had a written contract with a "time is of the essence" clause, the breeder could prevail. Otherwise, it may be reasonable to think that you agreed to pay $50 for each month (or part thereof) by which you were late, but payment by an exact date is not essential.

The reason to make that payment, even in the current circumstances, is that if you do, you will have fulfilled your part of the bargain, and the breeder would then likewise be required to provide the dog (the performing party i.e. you would be in a strong position to sue). Whereas if you don't make the payment and clearly refuse to ever make the payment, then you will have repudiated the contract and the other party can terminate the contract. They could then sue you for damages, although they might be happy enough with $1400.

Both parties did things that look like repudiating the contract, by putting the puppy back up for sale, and by refusing to ever make the final payment. Both parties can (perhaps) retract their apparent repudiations and the contract can be performed normally, though once the dog is sold, it becomes much more complicated. In this case, consulting with an attorney is clearly the best option. He may look at the facts and tell you that you'll never get your money back, but it may also write a letter which causes you to get a refund, or a dog, and it shouldn't cost $1400.

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Prima facie, a contract exists where you were to pay $X in 2 instalments, an initial one of $1400 and a subsequent one for the balance and that this was to be paid by a given date. In return they were to supply you with a puppy. All the required elements are there.

It appears that you were unable to fulfil your obligation and were unable to negotiate a variation to the terms so you decided to repudiate the contract, that is, terminate it without having a legal right to do so. In so doing you have exposed yourself to being sued for damages and/or for an order that you complete your obligations. Damages would almost certainly be more than $1400 once legal costs were included.

If the other party is satisfied with the money they have you should count yourself lucky.

  • No it’s not. I never said specifically that I would be able to pay by the 15th, I said I maybe able to. I never agreed to certain amount of payments in certain time frames. They asked when the puppy might be able to be paid off & I gave my best guess & said maybe. Nothing was set in stone. Then they went back on the contract as well. They agreed to hold the puppy longer when they didn’t. That’s why I’m thinking about getting a lawyer. The breeder specifically stated they would hold the puppy longer & I never stated I would have the money by the 15th nor were there any time frames for payments. – V. Doe Dec 10 '17 at 13:43
  • I have screen caps of the conversations I had with the breeder & the breeder never once made a payment schedule with me. I also have a screen cap where I said I “maybe” able to pay by the 15th. – V. Doe Dec 10 '17 at 13:45
  • Now she wants me to pay in full for the puppy & she has it back up for sale. – V. Doe Dec 10 '17 at 13:57

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