BelKay Kennels Informative - Review of dog breeder
FT. WORTH, TEXAS -- I have structured this review simply to tell my story about an experience with Belkay kennels.
When I looked at the web investigating this kennel and breeder, even the second time I bought an animal from her, I never found any untoward writings. Hence, I believed my experience would be positive (in combination with my first experience in 1997). However, that was not the case. I feel certain other individuals have also had bad experiences but I can find no record of those detailed on the web. Only today on a web search, I did find public record of a court decision where Ms. [name removed] was fined $14,800 for selling animals without an Animal Welfare license. That particular document can be found at the following URL as a PDF file:
Here is our story:
I purchased my first Brussels griffon from BelKay kennels in 1996 for $400. At that time, I found Ms. [name removed] to be pleasant, knowledgeable, helpful and attentive. She bred only Brussels griffons (or so I was told by her), and I was required to go through a phone interview before I was even told her address to view the puppies. I have been very happy with my first Brussels, hence, when I wanted to get my daughter a griff for her birthday, I went to the same breeder: Belkay kennels, Ms. Belinda [name removed], in Ft. Worth, TX.
On the second go-round, even from the start, I found her behavior a little odd. She was not interested at all in the fact that I’d previously purchased a puppy from her. She didn’t ask me the parent’s names or show any interest in our previous transaction, which is odd behavior for a breeder. When I went to pick out my puppy and leave a $300 deposit, I saw several other breeds of puppies on the premises, including about 7 other griffs and a pen of yorkees. When my husband and I went to Ft. Worth about 3 weeks later to get the puppy, we came with another check for the $700 balance. We noticed a grayish discharge on the puppy’s nose and two patches where the puppy's hair had been shaved. Ms. [name removed] told me he had a “slight skin infection” but she treated it with antimicrobial cream and “it’s better…see the new hair is growing in.” She stated he’d just been bathed and some of the bathing supplies left the nose discolored. We accepted this explanation and went directly to a veterinarian in Dallas, who is an outstanding DVM.
He examined the puppy and did note the discoloration on the nose and the skin lesions; he looked for ringworm with a black light but because of the recent scrubbing, there were no scales to fluoresce under the light. We opted to wait on a skin culture, seeing what the skin would do. He gave us an antibiotic for the rhinitis, noting it was probably viral but he didn’t want the puppy to get pneumonia.
Within 24 hours, the puppy began to cough, and our world hasn’t been the same since. To make a 3 month story short, the puppy developed pneumonia and has required referral to a veterinary internist who specializes in canine pulmonary disease. This has cost us > $2000 in medical bills for the puppy, not including the original cost of the animal. When we had to make a second veterinary appointment within 72 hours of obtaining the dog, I called Ms. [name removed] from the veterinarian’s office detailing the situation. From the beginning of our conversation, she was hostile and aggressive, talking over me and continually referring to her “handouts” which are given to new owners; she asked if I was using vaporizer treatments. She informed me that the dog developed pneumonia because I didn’t use the vaporizer as instructed when he began to cough. My perspective was that I paid $1000 for the animal: I shouldn’t have to use even a suction bulb. I might have even said as much, but because of her aggressive demeanor (talking over me every time I tried to speak), I hardly got a word in edgewise. She exhibited no concern for the animal and said only that the veterinarian and his antibiotics would not help us as the puppy has a virus and “antibiotics don’t work against viruses.” It was only at this time that I informed her I am an infectious diseases physician, and I know about the use of antimicrobials. She then stated, verbatim, “well then you should know the difference between bacteria and viruses. And if you’re trying to impress me, I am not impressed that you are a physician. Your kind let my husband die right in front of my eyes and all the while telling me that everything was ok. If you’re going to return the dog, you’d better do it before he’s dead.” (Of note, I was not involved with her husband's care in any way. I am an Asst. Professor at a medical school in Louisiana; she lives in Texas.) Then she hung up the phone before I could respond. I stood in the veterinary office absolutely speechless. She never contacted me again to see how the puppy fared.
We had the option to return the dog within 72 hours to the breeder should he be ill. I decided I would not return the dog to her, as I was concerned she would only use vaporizer treatments and not give him the needed antimicrobials for the secondary bacterial pneumonia he suffered after his initial respiratory infection (which no doubt resulted from over-crowding at the breeding facility), and he would surely die. Additionally, he was far too sick to be transported back to Ft. Worth from Louisiana late on a Sunday evening. We decided to focus our attention on the dog and worry about the breeder later. The contract I signed said the breeder was not responsible for any medical bills under any circumstances. I assumed this was a standard contract. She does allow for refund of an animal who develops a congenital defect within the first 3 years of its life.
Fortunately, the puppy bounced back and has done well, although he remains on antibiotics now, even 12 weeks later. He gets chest radiographs every few weeks. We are not out of the woods, though, in that if he doesn’t resolve the pulmonary infiltrates or begins coughing again, he will need bronchoscopy, another $1000. His course has been complicated by coccidia (an intestinal protozoa) and ringworm, both of which he came with from the breeder. (Of note, my first dog also was infected with coccidia in 1996.) Treating both of these other infections included additional expense, especially the ringworm. And we didn't get it treated before everybody in my home got infected with ringworm: my daughter, me, my husband, my daughter's schoolmates, my babysitter and her son, and my dad. As I write this, I still have a lesion on my shoulder, even though the dog is now well.
Fortunately my husband and I have the resources to care for this animal, although it has not been easy. I worry about the people who put all their money into the purchase price of one of Ms. [name removed]’s animals, then have nothing left to care for a very sick puppy, to which they’ve begun to love.
I decided to write this review while I was sitting in the vet internists office reading through a dog magazine, and I saw several ads for various puppies through BelKay kennels (Brussels griffons, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Yorkees). This morning, I saw another ad on the web for shih-tzu's. I don’t want anyone to have the experience we did, and ALL of these infectious complications could have been prevented through hygienic breeding behaviors.
I can not in good conscience not tell our story. I am willing to accept some responsibility: when I saw the warning signs, I didn’t run the other way. I was too overzealous to get a puppy from a breeder who was close in proximity. I didn’t want to order a dog by mail. I thought I might “get a sick dog”. There are many good breeders out there. If you’re reading my review, then you’re savvy with the web. Stick to the advice about how to pick a breeder, and run away if the breeders don’t behave as expected.
Under no circumstances can I recommend BelKay Kennels or Ms. [name removed] for any animal.
My best wishes for all of you who are searching for a new puppy for your home.