You know that adorable puppy you saw in an ad? It could be a scam.
The American Kennel Club and the Council of Better Business Bureaus are warning consumers about scams targeting puppy buyers.
The club and the council have received a number of reports from consumers across 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 e-mails, the scammer may claim that he is affiliated with a religious organization and is being relocated to a foreign country and needs a new home for the puppies.
It’s that kind of appeal that softens the potential victim, said Steve Cox, vice president of communications for the council.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The kennel club says the scam is an easy one to run, and it often is used.
“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," said Lisa Peterson, kennel club spokeswoman.
“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.”
- 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 atwww.akc.org/classified/index.cfm.
You can also check with the bureau at www.bbb.org and the kennel club at (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. 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 pictures of adorable puppies. At the very least, speak with the breeder on the telephone. If you locate a breeder online, never send money without checking their references and credentials first.
- 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 day you call.
- Report a scam. Anyone who has experienced a dog-related scam should report it to their local authorities as well as their local bureau or to the kennel club.