Contributed by Better Business Bureau
Seeing an adorable puppy under the tree may seem like the perfect holiday gift to some, but making a new puppy a successful gift requires planning and extensive research.
Many soon-to-be pet parents are completely unprepared for what a new puppy entails. Not only are new puppies a lifetime of responsibility, but they are also expensive and demand your full attention.
People melt when they see a new puppy, and scammers know this. Scammers are professionals at tugging on your heartstrings, and they use this to their full advantage by posing as reputable breeders.
Not only do you have to worry about scammers selling you a non-existent puppy, but you have to worry about where your dog came from – and its health.
Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties recommend the following advice when purchasing a puppy this holiday season:
Avoid puppy mills
Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is placed above the well-being of the animals. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Many of these dogs are plagued with congenital and hereditary conditions.
When picking out your new furry friend, it’s best to take a tour and visit with the facility. This can tell you how they have been treated, what health problems they may come home with and if they even exist at all.
California recently became the first state in the nation to ban the sale of dogs from puppy mills in local pet stores across the entire state when Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 485 into law. After January 2019, pet stores can only sell animals from adoption centers, rescue groups or animal shelters, or face a fine of $500 for the sale of any animal that is not a rescue.
As of today, there are approximately 100 or so pet stores that are already selling dogs and cats acquired from commercial breeders. This new law will change that.
In California, 36 cities already have laws in effect banning mass breeding operations including San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles, but this new bill will spread these policies statewide.
Find a reputable breeder
While this new California law bans the sales of animals in pet stores from any place other than a shelter or rescue group, those who are looking for a purebred puppy or a specific dog breed can still get their hands on one by way of a reputable and licensed breeder.
Any reputable breeder would not sell their puppies to a pet store, instead most have a waiting list and only sell to interested families who have contacted them first.
Reputable breeders will allow you to visit the premises, has dogs that appear lively, clean and healthy, and encourages you to spend time with the puppy or the parents first.
They also have a strong relationship with a local vet in town, doesn’t always have a puppy readily available, but keeps a wait list for interested parties, provides you with a written contract and a health guarantee, offers guidance for the care and training of your puppy, and is available for assistance after you take your puppy home.
This law is not only aimed at discouraging abusive breeding, but it also aims to promote the adoption of shelter animals.
Before you choose to adopt, ask questions. Ask the shelter if they know anything about the dog’s history like where they came from and if they have any medical issues, if they are spayed/neutered, what vaccines they already had, and if you can spend some alone time with the dog. Even if the shelter doesn’t have all the answers about the pups past, spending that one on one time with them may tell you all you need to know.
Beware of phony websites
Almost anyone can create a professional looking website, and scammers will use this to lure a potential buyer. Scammers often download cute puppy pictures from an actual breeder’s website, and then pose as the owner of these furry friends.
According to a new BBB report, “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers,” at least 80 percent of sponsored advertising links in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent, and in all there may be hundreds or even thousands of fake websites offering pets for sale.
Pick up your dog
Whether you’re buying from a breeder, or adopting from a shelter, it’s always a good idea to pick up your new furry friend in person rather than having it shipped or delivered. Scammers promise to ship you the puppy after you’ve paid, but that rarely ever happens and you are out of money and without a furry companion.
Watch how you pay
If the breeder pressures you to wire money or pay via a gift card, then take that as a huge red flag and look elsewhere. It’s recommended to pay via a credit card so you can easily dispute any fraudulent charges.
Pets require a lot more than just a leash, a bed and some dog food. In fact, pets are a huge expense that owners need to be fully prepared for. Not only do you need to be fully prepared in terms of cost, but you must be prepared to spend time with your new friend as well.
Dogs require training, socialization, walks and round the clock attention. They are 100 percent dependent on you, so take that into consideration before bringing a new pup home.
If you or anyone you know has experienced a dog-related scam, they should report it immediately to their local authorities as well as their local BBB.