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Kevin and Sandy McCabe (Heartland Labradors, Heartland Havanese), located in Clare, Iowa. I’m writing to alert you of their unscrupulous business practices.
It has been over 7 years since I entered an oral contract with the McCabes, and they have not maintained their end of the agreement. Please be cautious, I was taken for $1000. If you have any questions, or ideas of how I may recoup my losses please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have every email correspondence, receipt, delivery confirmation, certified mail receipt, etc. pertaining to the case.
In February 2004, I purchased a yellow lab bitch from the McCabes for $1000. I was on a wait list for several months, and spoke with Kevin numerous times regarding the multi-purpose labrador my lifestyle required (obedience, hunt tests, conformation showing). I flew from South Carolina to pick up the puppy in Clare, Iowa, in addition to meeting Kevin and touring his kennel. I specifically requested a contract on the day I picked up the puppy, but Kevin assured me he would “take care of me” if the “puppy didn’t turn out.” He also said “a contract is only as good as the people who sign it.”
In April 2005 it was obvious the bitch was not was not developing into a conformation specimen. I sent numerous pictures every month, and discussed my concerns about the lack of pigment on her nose, thin coat and tail and “legginess.” I spoke with Kevin over the phone, and he said he did not want me to show the bitch. He explained that their Hearland kennel name was on her, and they did not want her in the ring due to her faults. Kevin asked if I would be willing to return the bitch for a replacement puppy who would be better suited for the conformation ring. I agreed, and the bitch was returned. I invested thousands of dollars in the bitch due to the 4 mos. of professional field training she received. She was ready to compete in Junior level hunt tests and earn her Companion Dog obedience title (I have receipts for the 4 mos. of field training).
In December 2005 I received the replacement puppy. She was extremely intelligent and trainable, and with my training, earned the first leg of her Companion Dog title at 6 mos. old. Unfortunately, she also began showing signs of Exercise Induced Collapse at this time. Every time she was exposed to 20 minutes of exercise (retrieving, playing with other dogs, running on the beach, etc.) she would loose coordination in her rear end, collapse, and drag herself around by her front legs. She was not painful or unconscious during the episodes. It was impossible to take her swimming due to the concern she would have an episode and drown. Her episodes were observed by two field trainers and three veterinarians. I also had her hips radiographed, which ruled out hip problems. Exercise induced collapse is a GENETIC disorder predominately seen in labradors (there are videos of it on the internet). This meant I would not be able to use her for hunting, hunt tests, conformation showing or breeding. She was returned to the McCabes in the summer of 2006.
I have NUMEROUS emails from the McCabes. A May 30, 2006 email states they will give me an 8 week old puppy or $300. I elected for a puppy replacement, and was told they would contact me in the fall. On August 14, 2007 Sandy sent me an email saying she will refund $500. When I write back explaining I paid $1000, raised and TRAINED 2 puppies, and will not accept $500, she replies on August 20, 2007 with:
“We are now going to give you a replacement with no guarantees we are no longer offering the $500. Contact AKC we already have...Contact the Parent club we already have that is most of the breeders that I contacted. Do you think that breeders haven’t spent thousands of dollars with dogs that didn’t turn out? This doesn’t come easy. I can give you a list when we first started of dogs that didn’t turn out and we never got more than 1 dog for replacement.”
I called the McCabes and sent them numerous emails and certified letters (I have all emails & certified letter receipts) between 2007 and present. It takes me numerous emails, letters, and phone calls in order to receive a response. They refuse to call me, and their emails are nasty. A December 20, 2010 email states:
“...since there is no contract its not good for us or for you. Talking with lab breeders who are still showing most are giving no guarantees. Everyone who has shown dogs for a few years all have, dogs that are not replaced, stud services never took or replaced, semen that was never shipped. I can’t tell you the thousand of thousands of dollars we are out of and the years with dogs that didn’t turn out.”
My most recent correspondence with the McCabes was earlier this week. I kindly reminded Sandy I am still waiting for my replacement puppy, confronted her about the fact I’ve been told by 6 different sources that they are no longer breeding labs, and asked her if this could be handled in a timely manner. Her reply on August 8, 2011:
“I thought I had explained this to you, you need to go and read your contract. ....when we have another litter and that I cannot tell you when (one year, two year, three years or five) ...I will not go over the breeders, who we got a puppy from that weren’t replaced because of eyes, or hips second dog health issues...a few breeders stopped breeding because of one reason or another....we still have stud services own to us we will never be able to get. THIS IS THE DOG SHOW WORLD.”
I reminded Sandy I do not have a contract, and I don’t think it’s fair to ask a buyer to wait 7, 10 or 15 years for a replacement puppy! She replied, “I’m sorry you don’t have any kind of contract with us. Sandy”
I am currently a third year veterinary student. I have a 12 and 13 year old lab, both whom are in excellent health. I put all the titles on my dogs, and they have their CD, CDX, JH, CGC, TDI. I did sent one of my girls to a trainer for her SH.
They are super nice people prior to your purchase, but if things don't work out they get nasty. I have several emails from them demonstrating their unprofessional behavior and nastiness. Kevin also made it obvious during my initial meeting with him in Feb. 2004 that "a contract is only as good as the people who sign it." He went on to explain that even if we signed a contract, nothing can make them follow it, thus I was just as well off to "take his word." Looking back I wish I had a contract. It would stand up better in court and the statue of limitations is twice as long as they are for a verbal contract.
I've tallied up almost $5000 in losses from the 2 labs whom I raised, trained, and sent to field trainers, not to mention flights back and forth from SC to IA. It's an expensive mistake.
Every time I attempt to contact them it takes a min. of 1 week and several emails to get in touch with them. However, if you are prior to purchase I assume they are quick to reply to you! I have also had to email their friends, acquaintances in order to get a reply from the McCabes. When they finally reply it's the same story; they love telling me about how much money they lost in the dog show world & how many people "did them wrong." They are attempting to justify their behavior towards me. I explained to them that just because people treated them this way, it's not proper for them to treat others unethically.
It's frustrating, but at this point I'm writing it off as a loss and learning experience. I hope to help others, I would hate for anyone to go through what I've gone through.
I know they have a big name in the Havanese breed, but it's time people are made aware of the McCabes true colors. It's an ethical and moral injustice to the labrador and havanese breed, not to mention the dog show world.
I don’t appreciate the lack of respect, morals, values, and ethics the McCabes have demonstrated. The dog show world has a less than perfect reputation due to unethical, money hungry breeders. My goal is to enlighten future prospective buyers so they don’t endure the same fiasco, and I will NOT stop until the McCabes have satisfied their original agreement.