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The Puppy Scam

It may come as a surprise to some, but purchasing puppies online has become a very popular way to shop for those interested in acquiring a new pet.  There are many reputable breeders who do business in this manner.  Unfortunately, there are also a large number of scammers who are ready to take advantage of people looking for a new companion.

What is the Puppy Scam?

While other animals such as kittens can be the focus of this type of scam, puppies are by far the most popular choice.  The scammer will post a picture of a puppy which is often accompanied by a sad tale about why the owner needs to give it up.  Or the photo may be posted by someone posing as a reputable breeder.  Once the victim agrees to purchase the dog, often at a very low price, additional fees will start to accumulate, such as adoption fees, shipping costs, veterinary bills, etc.

How can I spot the Puppy Scam?

There are several warning signs that point to a scam.

  • Scammers often use only email to get in contact with you. Breeders who can be trusted will communicate with you in person, or through phone calls or video chat.
  • The cost for the puppy will be much lower than other puppies of similar breeds.
  • The biggest warning sign that you are involved with a scammer is the type of payment they request.  Wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, or gift cards are always a big sign that you are dealing with someone trying to scam you.

How do I know my breeder is reputable?

According to the American Kennel Club, better known as the AKC, there are several steps you can take to be sure you are working with a trustworthy breeder. 

  • Check out reviews and/or referrals for the breeder
  • Meet the person on the phone or video chat
  • Ask questions about the puppy as well as the breeder
  • Request proof of the puppy’s parentage, veterinarian bills, shot records, etc.
  • Don’t be impulsive. A reputable breeder will not rush the process.

Purchasing a pet online can be a safe and rewarding experience if you watch the warning signs and avoid falling into the Puppy Scam. 

If you have questions and do not know what to do, please feel free to contact us.