NORTH BENTON, Ohio - When you buy a car, appliance or a new phone, you usually have a contract to sign. The same is true when you spend hundreds of dollars on a purebred dog.
An On Your Side investigation found one Northeast Ohio breeder with big paperwork problems. Fairview Kennels in North Benton, Ohio is owned by Terri Wylie.
Wylie told Newchannel5 investigator Sarah Buduson her Yorkshire Terriers are purebred, but we found she has a history of leaving customers upset and unsure of whether they got the dog they paid to own.
Inspired by "Legally Blonde" heroine Elle Woods and lonely at Akron law school, Dawn Zweier bought a furry friend.
"I do love that movie. It's a good movie," said Dawn Zweier. "I decided to name him Bruiser. I felt like I was just going to get through this somehow."
But Dawn is not sure Bruiser is who she thought he was.
"I really wanted a purebred, a purebred Yorkie," Zweier said.
Zweier's contract from Fairview Kennels says Bruiser is "a purebred Yorkie registered with the Dog Registry of America."
Dog Registry of America (DRA), formerly the U.S. Kennel Club, is just one of several kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club and the American Dog Breeders Association.
"Does this guarantee the dogs are purebred?" asked NewChannel5 investigator Sarah Buduson about DRA contracts.
"Yes. Because it has the registration numbers," Wylie said.
Again, Wylie said her dozens of Yorkshire Terriers are the real deal.
"I have good blood line. I have champion blood lines," she said.
However, a Dog Registry of America spokesperson sent NewsChannel5 a statement that said Bruiser is not part of a registered purebred litter. The spokesperson said the dogs listed as his parents aren't registered purebreds either. In fact, they're not registered with the DRA at all.
Wylie's husband, Richard, and her lawyer greeted us when we arrived to interview Terri about Dawn's dog and other complaints.
"You're not running your camera now?" said Richard to photographer Dave Arnold.
"I always run it," said Arnold.
"Well, turn it off now," said Harry DePietro, Wylie's lawyer.
Terri Wylie did go on camera for an interview.
"Can you tell us what happened?" asked Buduson about one of the complaints.
"I have no idea," said Wylie.
Other customers have had concerns like Dawn Zweier's.
In 2009, one customer filed a report with Smith Township police that said she spent more than $1,000 for a dog registered with the American Kennel Club.
The problem: The AKC says Wylie is "not in good standing" and not been able to "register any dogs or litters" since 2006.
"You haven't been a member for several years," said Buduson
"I think we're going to end this interview at this time," DiPietro said.
"Sure, you're the boss," Wylie said.
In an email, DiPietro wrote, "Terry used to, but has chosen to no longer, register any of her dogs with AKC. It is not the only dog registry available to breeders in the United States. Terry long ago advised the AKC that she was no longer interested in registering future litters with that entity."
Customers have also taken Wylie and her husband to court.
Fairview Kennels also has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau for not responding to complaints. Two of those who complained said they never received registration papers proving their puppies' pedigree.
"With all these calls, there has to be a problem somewhere," said Dave Nelson, Mahoning County's deputy dog warden.
"Over the course of years, it's probably been maybe 70 to 100 calls of where the people weren't happy with the paper," Nelson said.
He said Wylie's customers have complained to him since 1988.
"I have literally had people call on the phone crying at night through Smith Township police department and say we just paid over $4,000 and we just got a mixed breed, more or less mutt," said Nelson.
"They're all purebreds, but they're not all superior quality," Nelson said.
Many dogs are bred for show. Those that don't meet the breed standard are not considered superior quality. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the dogs. They are just sold as pets.
As for Wylie's pedigree paperwork problems, she told Buduson she has suffered a long illness.
"I'm sorry I've made a few people unhappy," Wylie said.
Even though Bruiser doesn't have the proven pedigree, he still provides Zweier what she needed.
"Oh, he's the best dog. He's a very good companion for me," she said.
The Dog Registry of America asked us to fax them complaints after we informed them about Wylie's complaints.
If you are looking to buy a purebred dog,
make sure the breeder is in good standing with the American Kennel Club, ask the Better Business Bureau about the breeder and make sure you understand the terms of your contract.