We found John Brink and Diana Carr's ad for Alaskan Malamute puppies on a free dog listing site. They were easy to talk to on the phone and everything sounded good so we drove down to VA from New England to pick up a Malamute puppy on a trip down South to visit family.
Unfortunately when we got there we noticed that the "kennel" was a tool shed in a back yard that was no bigger than 10' x 10'. There was one adult malamute tied up back there, the other was inside with the puppies. We were disappointed but didn't want to go home empty handed as we had driven all that way and been planning on getting a puppy for a while.
We picked out a puppy that we named Isa and in about 6 weeks she started having seizures. After many tests, and seeing the professionals at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in Greenwich, RI and at Eastside Veterinary Clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, Isa was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic epilepsy.
After many emails in which we forwarded the appropriate medical records, the breeders denied our claims and any responsibility under the 2 year health guarantee. Diana Carr spoke with our vet on the phone and argued with the vet the whole time in an attempt to deny any responsibility.
Isa was purchased with full registration, at one point they agreed to a partial refund for the breeding rights. We fulfilled our half of the agreement and registered Isa without breeding rights, and they never sent us a refund for those breeding rights. They offered a puppy from a future litter, but refused to conduct any testing that may assure us that epilepsy does not run in their lines.
Epilepsy is often a recessive gene that is carried through the lines and brought out by too much line breeding. Unless proven otherwise by genetic testing, it is likely that the sire, AKC registered as Tequila Brink, the dam- AKC registered as Shiva Brink, and other dogs from that litter such as Bear Brink, an all white male that John and Diana intended to stud, all carry the epileptic gene. The breeders continue to breed and sell dogs from this line. It is also likely that other dogs within this line have epilepsy, but will not show signs until they are older.
I have spoken to many reputable breeders and have read many websites on the subject of canine epilepsy since this began. It is standard practice that responsible breeders stop breeding any dog within 1 degree of relation to the epileptic dog. If you buy or breed a dog with any dogs in this line, be warned, you run the risk of owning a dog with canine epilepsy or introducing the disorder into your lines. Ultimately Isa was put down before she was a year old because she built up a tolerance to the medication and the seizures became longer and harder to control. Prolonged seizures like the ones Isa was having cause brain damage, as the oxygen flow to the brain is stopped during a seizure. Our vet informed us that epilepsy in Northern dog breeds such as Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies is often very intense and hard to control. The whole situation cost us thousands of dollars in vet bills, in addition to the purchase price which was never refunded.
A good bit of advice was offered to me when in the market for purebred dogs. If you want a puppy from a breeder, look for dogs that have actual working titles. In the case of Alaskan Malamutes, dog pull championships, or sled dog races. If they have older dogs around 9 or 10 years old that still compete, you can be sure that is a healthy line. Working dogs are usually a better bet than showroom floor dogs. The Brinks have neither titles in this area. If you are looking for an Alaskan Malamute, you can also do a web search for local rescues.