Over 2 weeks ago I rehomed a dog interstate. I advertised the dog as trained to public access, complex skills and beginning search and rescue. Reason for rehoming is other dog to concentrate on.
I interviewed the buyer for 2 hours. I was satisfied that despite having young children they would utilize their professional trainer to help them with their other dog and young kids. The buyer is from Queensland. I am from Victoria.
The buyer signed a contract of sale for the Labrador. Dog was sold for $5000. The money was paid into my account and I transferred the ownership for the microchip of the dog.
The contract has a health clause in it where a person must get the dog vetted within 2 days after reviewing the dog. The clause clearly states no refunds of money. It also states inappropriate socialization.
I had the dog vetted and vaccinated less than 24 hours prior to sending it on road transport to Queensland.
I advised that the dog was due to be in heat around December. The buyers advised me she was in heat within a couple of days of arriving. I had no idea. The vet was not aware either. I probably wouldn't have sent her until it subsided. So they managed it.
Before they got the dog I advised them to get a crate, manage the dogs in crates and separate areas and get the help of a professional trainer to assist them to safely introduce the two dogs in a controlled way. I had advised to not have toys or food around the 2 dogs together in the early days.
It can take a few months for a new dog to settle into a brand new environment.
I got a distressed text message 3 weeks later about the dog showing possessive behaviour over a toy towards the other dog and that they were worried about their children. I told them to manage the dog and her the help of the professional trainer. This is a problem that can be managed and trained.
They are blaming me for misrepresenting this dog and not disclosing behaviour. They got advice from their trainer and the assessment on the dog on another dog is inconclusive. It would be only subjective anyway. The dog was behaving like a dog and it is difficult to predict how any dog will react in situations. The dog had gone through a lot. Moved to a new home, a new environment, new dog, on heat, transport for 2 days.
I advised them it can take a few months to get used to a new environment.
They are now demanding to return the dog st their expense $600 For a full refund. I no longer have the money because I paid some bills and my financial situation is tight.
They engaged a lawyer and made the demand for a refund.
They are better of advertising the dog and sellig it in Queensland.
It seems they expected a perfect pet and did not understand that dogs can respond differently to different situations. One cannot predict a dog's innate behaviour all the time trained or not.
I think the dog may have suffered duress from the travel and being on heat.
I have sought legal advice and they said I should be protected by the agreement.
What action can they take against me?
What is the legal process for claims of up to $5000 between parties from different states where contract took place in Victoria, and dog transferred to Queensland?
How can I get support of a pro-bono lawyer to represent me given I am vulnerable and on a pension?
I have a moral obligation to the dog to bring it home. But I don't have the money, or the means to give it. Bottom-line.
What's the worst thing they could do to peruse this?
Their best option is to drop their demands and Odell the dog.