Puppy Buyers Beware: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Dog
-- Longing for a Canine Companion? Don’t Get Conned! --
New York, NY – The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) are warning consumers about scams targeting unsuspecting puppy buyers.
Both the AKC and the CBBB have recently received a number of reports from consumers throughout the nation who have lost money after responding to online or newspaper classified advertising. Commonly, the scammer —posing as a breeder—will place an ad offering free or inexpensive puppies. Communicating solely through emails, the scammer may claim that he/she is affiliated with a religious organization and is being relocated to a foreign country and needs to re-home the puppies.
“The consumer can be taken in by the sincerity of the scammer, who’ll say that they don’t care about money and just want to find a good home for their beloved puppies,” said Steve Cox, Vice President of communications for the CBBB. “But then the fees for shipping the pet mount up and the consumer can lose hundreds of dollars before realizing they’ve been conned and will never get their puppy.”
“This is certainly not the only scam to be aware of, but it is a common one,” says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “Because of the emotional investment, consumers are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of when it comes to a cute cuddly puppy than with any other purchase. A dog is a major investment -- a living, breathing being who will rely on you for 10 years or more. Take time to educate yourself on the hallmarks of a legitimate and responsible breeder.”
The AKC and BBB offer the following advice:
Do your research. Ask if the breeder is a member of an AKC-affiliated club and contact that club to verify membership or check recent listings of available AKC Litters from breeders at: http://www.akc.org/classified/index.cfm. You can also check with the BBB (www.bbb.org) and the AKC (919-233-9767) to see if there are any complaints about the breeder. Request references and speak to other people who have purchased dogs from this breeder—especially if the breeder does not live near you.
Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned with getting paid. Any reputable breeder will be far more concerned with the appropriateness of the potential pet home than what and when they are getting paid. Make sure you have clear expectations – ideally in writing – of how and when the pup will be paid for. Be especially wary of any breeder who insists that you wire money and who calls to ask for more money to be wired to cover last minute shipping fees.
Don’t be fooled by a slick web site. Unscrupulous breeders and even outright scams can be represented by professional-looking web sites that lure you in with fraudulent pictures of adorable puppies. At the very least speak with the breeder on the telephone and ideally meet the breeder, the puppy and the dam in person. If you locate a breeder online, never send money without checking their references and credentials first. The AKC recommends that you first contact the national organization for the breed (Parent Club). It is essential to visit the breeder at their home to see the entire litter and the care and conditions given to the puppies prior to purchasing.
Take your time. Beware of breeders who claim to have multiple breeds ready to ship immediately. It’s highly unlikely that your perfect puppy will be available for shipping on the very day you call. Gestation and socialization of a litter takes months -- no puppy should be separated from the dam before 8 weeks of age.
Report a scam.Anyone who has experienced a dog-related scam should report it to their local authorities as well as their local BBB (www.bbb.org) to file a complaint. Consumers can also direct questions and concerns to AKC Customer Service at 919-233-9767, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you are sure you are dealing with an actual breeder who has a dog to sell, there are still things to be aware of,” adds Peterson. “If you expect the dog you are buying to be AKC-registrable, you must obtain documentation when you pick up the dog. Be wary of excuses such as ‘AKC hasn't sent the papers yet.’ If a breeder is doing his paperwork in a timely manner, there is no reason the AKC Dog Registration Application form should not be available, so wait until you receive it before you pay for and take home your puppy. Once you have completed the financial aspect of the transaction, there is little recourse for an unsatisfied buyer.”