Think Twice about Purchasing a Puppy as a Holiday Gift to Avoid Getting Cheated

Connecticut Better Business Bureau urges consumers to be extremely careful when buying a puppy as a holiday gift because of the proliferation of scams associated with puppy sales.

Connecticut BBB Urges Givers to Carefully Consider Giving Any Pet as a Gift

A new pet will bring smiles to the faces of most children; however, gift-givers should keep in mind that unless the family is also enthusiastic about the new addition, the pet could end up at the animal shelter.

Many animal experts recommend against introducing a new pet, especially a young one, into the family during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  If you have your heart set on surprising the family, give them a “gift voucher” for the dog and pick one out together after the holidays.

In particular, Connecticut Better Business Bureau urges consumers to be extremely careful when buying a puppy as a holiday gift because of the proliferation of scams associated with puppy sales.

Regardless of when you buy or rescue your new dog, BBB and the American Kennel Club offer the following advice:

Don’t fall victim to a puppy scammer.  Because of the emotional investment in buying a puppy, scammers are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.  Make sure to ask around for a breeder, rescue group, or shelter referral.  Always check out the business’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.

Never send money without first checking a breeder or shelter’s credentials. If you locate a puppy through a website, do not send money without speaking to the breeder and checking references and credentials first.  Ask if the breeder is a member of an American Kennel Club-affiliated club and contact the club to verify membership.

Don’t support puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not purchase a puppy from a website.  When you have a puppy shipped from another area, you don’t know how that puppy has been treated, how healthy or young it is, or whether or not the puppy exists at all.  As a veterinarian for referrals to reputable facilities.

Don't be fooled by a well-designed website. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking but fraudulent website designed to lure the potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of scammers who offer to "re-home" their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees. If a free purebred puppy sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Scammers will continually ask for more money for unexpected and fraudulent costs.

You will find additional helpful holiday and consumer tips at http://www.bbb.org.

-Submitted by Howard Schwartz Executive Communications Director, Connecticut Better Business Bureau

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Sarah November 29, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Great advice! Plus there are so many amazing mixed breed dogs and puppies in shelters, it's silly to spend the money on a purebred!
Wyatt November 29, 2012 at 08:04 PM
@Sarah. That is, unless you want the dog to fulfill some role. It's silly to get a shelter dog if you need your dog for a specific purpose - hunting, guarding, therapy, etc. Plus, many people are forced to purchase a dog, rather than adopting one. Many pet adoption groups are extremely picky about who they give dogs to.
Kristen Lloyd November 29, 2012 at 08:14 PM
The qualifications that adoption groups require are things that should be required for owning a dog. They want to make sure you are allowed to have pets (apartment dwellers), have references that show you are a good pet owner, and have the financial means and time to own a dog. Nothing they ask of you is unnecessary. These are the groups that take in the dogs that people bought and now have to give up because their landlord found out or they suddenly realized they don't have time for a dog or that it's too much money. If pet stores were as picky as adoption groups then maybe there wouldn't be as many homeless animals.
Paul Petrone (Editor) November 29, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Every week I do the Pets of the Week at the Humane Society. And many of the pets that wind up there are pets that were given as gifts to someone else. For example, it was flooded with bunnies after Easter because people actually bought other people bunnies for Easter, which were quickly abandoned at the shelter. I asked the girl who works there what she thought about giving a pet as a present, and her advice was simple: never, ever give a pet as a present.
Karen's Dog Training Blog November 29, 2012 at 09:41 PM
http://avon.patch.com/blog_posts/sometimes-puppy-love-is-not-enough Not only should you not buy puppies as gifts to avoid being cheated out of your money - think about all the gift puppies who are cheated out of permanent loving homes because of the reasons Kristen L mentions above. Puppies are not mittens - they are animals with food, shelter, training, emotional and medical needs. Puppies need homes with structure, owners with commitment to care for puppies properly, owners who have carefully chosen the breed, mixed/breed, size of puppy and so forth to suit their lifestyle and not just on looks or cute factor. Shelters are full of unwanted gift pets - cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters etc that owners gave up when reality set in. Never give a pet as a gift. Never impulse buy or adopt a pet.
Elaine November 30, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Whether you decide to purchase a purebred pup from a breeder or get a dog from a rescue or a shelter, it should not be a spur of the moment decision. You are bringing an animal into your home which will have a lifespan of 10-15 years and it will need training, food, regular vet visits, exercise and above all, companionship. If you are going with a breeder, check them out with the AKC and the breed clubs. Find out what issues are prevalent in the breed and ensure that the breeder checks for them. If you are going with a rescue, try to use a local one. Make sure you discuss all fees up front and find out if the dog has been vet checked and has vaccination records. Ask if it has been wormed, there have been many dogs being transported from the south with health issues including worms. Ask for local references. Ask for the dogs history and be wary of dogs with behavioral issus i.e. no kids, cats or other dogs unless you have dog experience.
WhiskeyTangoFoxrot November 30, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Remember dead puppies are no fun
Elissa Bass November 30, 2012 at 03:53 PM
@Wyatt - ANY dog can be trained to fulfill any need. Shelter dogs have become great therapy dogs, guide dogs, police dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs. You name it, a shelter dog has fulfilled that role. So let's just put away that stereotype. As for 'forced' to buy a dog - I absolutely agree with Kristen - rescues have high standards for adoptions because they are seeking 'forever homes' for these animals - so they want to make sure the commitment and the resources are there. My first dog was a purebred Lab who cost us $800 and gave us 12 amazing years - I still miss him and he has been gone 5 years. Our second dog is a rescue from the Stonington dog pound, a mutt who had a horrible life before we found her. She is the best guard dog I could ever ask for. Best 50 dollars I ever spent. Check your local pounds!!!!!
Lesley Ferguson Simoni November 30, 2012 at 08:56 PM
@ Wyatt - many shelter dogs do go on to become therapy dogs. We have actually placed dogs from our shelter into nursing homes, where they are loved and doing well.
victoria verderame November 30, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Reading some of the comments above really upset me. I adopted my dog from Labs4Rescue. He is not pure lab, but a mix. However, there were many purebreds on the site with paper work! Adopting doesn't mean that you get "jipped" out of being able to have a pure bred. Plus, my pup is already one of the best watch dogs I have ever known. Over the summer we were walking at night in the dark near my condo, he heard two voices and immediately stopped, put his tail up, stepped out in front of me and began to bark. I have never felt safer then I do now with him on patrol. You should check Petfinder, some organizations can be picky but I have nothing but good things to say about Labs4Rescue and Nutmeg Rescue. Its a wonderful network of connected adopters, fosters, and volunteers.
sam December 01, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Wyatt, if you can't pass the requirements of an adoption group, then you shouldn't have a dog. This is EXACTLY the problem!
Elissa Bass December 01, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Victoria, YES! There are rescues for nearly every type of pure breed as well - it is so easy to find the perfect dog for your family if you just do the research!!!!
Highway Worker December 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Everyone here missed a very important point. In today's day and age there is no reason for a family not to do their homework on a specific breed before choosing a dog. The Uggie you see on film that stole everyone's hearts this year was a rescue because his first owners could not handle him. There are websites that offer compatability testing. Whether you like it or not, you must be aware of a breeds needs. They will not fit into your family lifestyle if it is not similar to the breeds natural traits.


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