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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a question for all of the Non U.S. Breeders. There is a growing phenomenon in the U.S. regarding mice breeders where more and more breeders are demanding extreme stipulations on mice (including the potential return of) in the forms of contracted mice including any descendants for up to 5 generations.

I was wondering, if any non U.S. breeders employ this practice with their mice?
 

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Not in the UK, thank goodness :) Mice are generally swapped about between show breeders with no problems. On the whole, mouse fanciers are a very friendly, helpful lot; happy to give mice to a breeder that needs them.

Contracts on mice 5 generations down the line is just plain RIDICULOUS! I've never heard of such a thing! :lol:

Sarah xxx
 

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I'm not breeding (yet!) but, to a point, I understand where people who insist on contracts are coming from.

Having buyers sign a contract (even though they're not legally binding) tends to put off anyone with less honourable intentions, which would be helpful if selling mice to someone you don't know/trust. I've seen mouse breeders say they're hesitant to sell to the public because good homes can't be guaranteed and if a reasonable contract helps in that case, I don't think it's a big deal.

I assume the reason for the 5-generation thing is to stop a new breeder taking all the credit for breeding nice mice, when the person they got them from was the one that really did all the work? That does seem excessive to me - from what I can see, British breeders seem happy to credit whoever got them started :) Besides, surely others would notice if someone tried to pull a fast one?! :lol:
 

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Unlike the rat fancy, which is more pet orientated, the UK mouse fancy does not use contracts. Private breeders may do, but to be honest since everyone knows they're not legally binding it doesn't matter if someone signs it or not - it doesn't stop a potential bad owner because they are not bound by it, and tbh it can be hard if not impossible to know what happens to an animal once it leaves your care if the new owner refuses to keep in touch. Since the UK mouse fancy is a case of all the regular show-goers know each other, that's why there isn't a problem swapping or giving mice to each other. As has been said it's ironically members of the public who want pets that tend to be the problem owners. I've had some lovely people have pet mice from me but I've also had a couple who seemed fine, but turned out to be very poor owners despite having other mice. In one case a friend of mine went and collected the mice I bred and was shocked at the state they had been allowed to get into (they're fine now).
 

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It all sounds so silly, why bother to sell them at all. I am not too concerned about the homes my mice go to, unless the perosn is clearly a weirdo. I think its better for them to have a chance at some kind of life rather than being culled when I decide they are undesirable for breeding. I think after you sell an animal you have no say over how it kept or used. Why should you, the buyer has no right to tell you how to spend their money.
 

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I have a friend in CA who just entered into a contract that she has to keep three generations before letting any go to a new home.
 

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Unfortunately animals do attract, and I'm phrasing this politely, nutters. All you can do is speak to the person who would like your animals (whatever species) and try and see if they are knowledgeable (or learning) and what sort of person they are. You can never get it right 100% of the time sadly, contracts do not change that. What exactly do the contracts in the OP consist of?
 

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Most of the European mice I've bought (but not all) are contract-free.

Most of the American mice I've bought (but not all) are under contract.

Some of my own mice are under contract. Most are not.

MouseBreeder said:
What exactly do the contracts in the OP consist of?
Generally, a contract in the US may include things such as proper veterinary care for the animal, return of the animal if at any time the original owner breaks the terms of the contract (too common, unfortunately), stipulations as to which club(s) the mouse/mice must be shown under, and what should happen to the mice if the adopter dies or is incarcerated, etc. These contracts often go as far as three generations down the line, but sometimes as many as five (I have some under 5-generation contracts still). I've signed mouse contracts from KAW, WNT, CSB, and MyLM in the US, if I remember right. Each of them is at least two pages and each has a long list of requirements. Most others don't use written contracts, as far as I'm aware. I've never broken a contract, so I don't know if any of the breeders would actually take it to court, but I do turn my copies over to my lawyer, just in case something were to come of it (she lives near me so it's not a big deal) and she has told me some of them would not be enforceable because of their vagueness.

The terms and conditions in a contract are related (somewhat) to the concept of co-ownership of show dogs: http://greaterswiss.com/contracts.htm For one (or three or five) generations, you enter into a kind of co-ownership, then the contract dissolves.

The show mice who are under contract are generally the ones who have had a lot of work put into them and the original breeder wants the animals to be continued on properly. Breaking the contract by breeding them improperly (such as chinchilla to recessive yellow splashed) is a serious matter when you consider the years of work that have gone into improving the original mice, on both sides of the Atlantic.

I've never heard of contracts for mixed-ancestry or pet-typed mice. I'm sure they exist, though. I just don't personally ever buy those mice.

I have mixed-feelings about contracts, myself. I honor the ones I sign but I don't usually make other people sign contracts unless I am contractually bound to do so. :p
 

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how many times have senior breeders let strains of winning mice go to persons who have been in the fancy a year or so, make all the right noises etc, only to find a year or so later that they have given up and the mice are down the pet store or worse. loads times . a contract saying that the mice have to be retuned to the original supplier if the fancier gives up the breed would be good. five generations-load of rubbuish ! a strain belongs to the breeder by then !
 

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I'll be back. said:
how many times have senior breeders let strains of winning mice go to persons who have been in the fancy a year or so, make all the right noises etc, only to find a year or so later that they have given up and the mice are down the pet store or worse. loads times . a contract saying that the mice have to be retuned to the original supplier if the fancier gives up the breed would be good. five generations-load of rubbuish ! a strain belongs to the breeder by then !
Yeah, by 5 generations the mice are the product of the (new) breeder. That's why all the ones I've encountered stop at 3 or 5 generations. After that, the contract dissolves.

Just like in the UK, in the US talented breeders have let strains of winning mice go to people who ended up doing bad by them. No matter how safe you are, sometimes it turns out the person you adopted to is a nutter, or worse, an animal hoarder. That's a big reason as to why the contracts exist in the US. But at the end of the day, it's a mixed-bag. Some good show breeders use them; others don't. Some only use them part of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have spoken to people familiar with animal law, and according to them, even dog contracts are hard to uphold in court, because, legally, the animal belongs to the purchaser, regardless of the contract. There are a lot of dog breeders who have been unable to get dogs back even after a breach of contract.

And you seem to misunderstand the "co-ownership" part. I have co-owned 3 different Aussies in my lifetime, and the contract was not what made the co-ownership. The breeder and myself could have both thrown the contract out the window and the dog still would have been co-owned because it was registered to both the breeder and myself through the AKC and ASCA. I could not have done anything with the dog (such as breeding or transferring ownership) without the breeder signing the papers also. However, I could have bred the dog and sold the puppies without AKC or ASCA papers, and have breached the contract if I had and, at that point, the breeder may have fought to get their dog back, but would have never been able to get the puppies back (but may have sued for damages or profits earned off of the litter - depending on stipulations specifically written in the contract).

The contract is not just there to protect the dog, its also there to protect the buyer. Dog contracts typically state that if the dog develops a congenital defect before the age of 2 (or 26 months, or 24 months, or 32 months, etc.) then the breeder will replace the dog (often two options will be given for replacement and some may offer a refund, but this is not common). It also states that if certain conditions are met (ie. the dog achieves a title and health clearances are complete) then the breeder will sign the dog's registration papers over to the new owner making the dog fully and completely theirs. If the purchaser never meets those stipulations or breaches the contract, the breeder can attempt to get the dog back and refuse to sign off on the dog's papers.

The biggest difference here between a dog contract and these mouse "contracts", are that the dog does eventually become the sole property of the purchaser, and the breeder may ask for a puppy back (but the papers will not be signed over until this step in the contract is complete also) or use of the dog as a stud later, but they do not ever place stipulations on the dog or its offspring or what dogs that dog can be bred to AFTER the purchaser is given the papers and the dog is fully and completely theirs.

I don't see how anyone can contract generation upon generation of any animal, as they would have to prove that those animals were theirs, and in order to do so without any doubt, would need to obtain DNA evidence that those animals were off of that line. And that would require the breeder to keep DNA samples of all mice sold on file for DNA comparison if ANY breach of contract occurred.

I have never purchased any mice where I had to sign a contract (in the US). I have had mice where there were stipulations to be met BEFORE the exchange of animals went down, and that was merely becoming a member of a club before they would sell to me, which I have no problem with. And I have made "good-faith" statements to people, such as telling them I would not release their lines for 3 generations, but it was never required. It was done merely as a testament as to my respect for that breeder and her hard work over the last 20+ years. I do not think she really cared one way or the other.

Out of curiosity, why would a contract stipulate that a mouse couldn't be bred to a certain color? What if that breeder purchased that mouse specifically to work on a new variety they were trying to standardize, and that cross was required to make it?

Mouse Breeder, I have heard a lot of different things stipulated, but I have also heard that there a some breeders who use those "contracts" to take back mice for no reason or without any breach of the contract. I also heard, if they suddenly decide they don't like the purchaser one day, they up and try to take their mice back (including descendants) just to be spiteful and hurt the other breeder's breeding program. And (in some of those instances) instead of trying to obtain the animals legally or take the person to court, they threaten, harass, and stalk them at public events. So I've heard. I'm not 100% positive on the truthfulness of these events, but I've heard. In some cases, I even heard tales of mice being given away and then the person they were given to told they were contracted AFTER they got the mice home (several hours away) OR the person claiming there was a verbal contract in place later because no signed contract could be presented.

All I know is, I don't care how nice the mice are, I would never want to purchase animals with such unreasonable stipulations, and would probably just go to a different breeder, even if it does mean a little extra hard work breeding a nicer specimen for show. (I used to do contracts for pet animals 9 years ago, but after learning the hard way they didn't hold up in court, I stopped and just screened adopters more carefully).
 

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It seems like you have specific issues and questions for certain individuals. If this is the case, you should address these questions to them personally instead of making what seems to be thinly-veiled references on public forums where they may or may not even read (I know at least one of them doesn't have an account here...probably neither of them do). Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Jack, I was merely answering a question. I don't have any personal issues with anyone or their contracts. And that was things that have been told to me by multiple fanciers not just one. But as I said, I have merely heard these things and do not know the truth to these matters. I do not even know who the breeder is in some of these instances, so would not be able to question them further regarding their practices.
 

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I personally do not have contracts. I try and adopt to like minded people, who are completely aware that I am an unethical breeder, and do not have have issues with the way my animals are kept or bred. In addition I screen new people carefully. I am more apt to adopt a pet that is not from lines that I am pressed over to people I do not know as well.

I have witnessed contracts in the rat hobby that darn-near make you sign over your first born to them for the option of hosting their rat at your house. You have to contact them with every potential breeding for 5 or more generations, and if you do one thing they do not agree with they will sue you for both reposession of the rat and damages. When I first talked to the breeder who told me this I thought she was joking. But no she was serious.
 

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I'll be back. said:
how many times have senior breeders let strains of winning mice go to persons who have been in the fancy a year or so, make all the right noises etc, only to find a year or so later that they have given up and the mice are down the pet store or worse. loads times . a contract saying that the mice have to be retuned to the original supplier if the fancier gives up the breed would be good. five generations-load of rubbuish ! a strain belongs to the breeder by then !
I think all fanciers who have been breeding for a few years (at least in the UK) have had this happen to them, I certainly have a few times. I don't see how a contract will change that - if the buyer never shows etc they don't make the effort to return the mice either, or they sell them off. Either that or by the time they give up they have bred the mice without proper selection and the original show breeder would have no use for taking them back anyway as they have devolved into more pet quality than show quality mice. There are also the people who ask you for pet mice, then a few weeks/months later you see their offspring advertised as 'exhibition' or 'top show quality' mice. That is what really irks me - duping trusting members of the public and giving the hobby/NMC a bad name.
 

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But as you said Jack... many (I'd be willing to bet most actually) contracts written for this are not enforcable. I'd also be willing to bet people, as in the breeders, did these contracts without any legal guidance.

So, really these contracts are merely useful to put off not quite so serious owners, and bind you in a matter of trust if nothing else.
As far as I am concerned, once you sell or giveaway an animal, it is no longer yours to control. It is up to the new owner to keep in contact if they want to.

W xx
 

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I'll be back. said:
how many times have senior breeders let strains of winning mice go to persons who have been in the fancy a year or so, make all the right noises etc, only to find a year or so later that they have given up and the mice are down the pet store or worse. loads times . a contract saying that the mice have to be retuned to the original supplier if the fancier gives up the breed would be good. five generations-load of rubbuish ! a strain belongs to the breeder by then !
I see the point in this, but I like the words of a top fancier who told me that as soon as the mice go in your shed, they're yours. You can easily f'em up in a few weeks with the wrong food, poor care, and bad selection for breeding, through inexperience or just a lack of ability. I have given people mice and seen this happen in a few months.

Sure, it's irritating if the stock you gave them was good, and they mess it up or give up completely, but i believe that if you just expect that to happen as default, you can only be pleasantly surprised if it all goes well. Personally, once mice leave my shed, i wouldn't weant them back nine times out of 10, or if i had to have them back, i'd probably just end up culling them.
 

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MouseBreeder said:
There are also the people who ask you for pet mice, then a few weeks/months later you see their offspring advertised as 'exhibition' or 'top show quality' mice. That is what really irks me - duping trusting members of the public and giving the hobby/NMC a bad name.
I agree!

Another irk for me is people that use your stud name in adverts for young mice, which may be the origins of the mice that they have been breeding from, but, as in my previous post above, they have already made a mess of the line.

I have been guilty of making a mess of lines of mice that have come into my shed; it's all part of the learning curve! You let things slip because you don't know what you're doing. But I don't like it when i see my stud name quoted in ads for stock from a new breeder.
 

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Unfortunately, that happens stateside, too!

Contracts could feasibly include clauses against it, I suppose.
 
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