Dec. 20, 2013
– Adding a puppy or any other pet to your family over the holidays may sound appealing, but Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin
advises consumers to do a lot of research and planning before giving or adopting a pet as a gift this holiday season, especially if you plan to do it online.
Beyond the cost of purchasing the puppy, additional costs often include veterinary bills, certificates of health, crates, shipping and pedigree costs.
Scammers are also aware of these costs and will use them to take advantage of consumers and run high-dollar scams. Beware of classified ads offering purebred puppies for free or at prices that seem too good to be true. Also, watch out for internet sellers asking for full payment before providing documentation, other than a photograph, that the puppy is healthy and also, for real.
Puppy scams often hook people with offers of pure-bred puppies through classified internet sites. Scammers collect money for the cost of the pet, plus bogus fees such as shipping or ‘ownership transfer’ costs, and then never deliver the advertised puppy or pet.
BBB recommends avoiding purchasing a puppy or pet online without seeing the pet in person first. Ask for documentation and inspect the animal’s living conditions. Ask the breeder questions and meet the puppy’s parents before taking it home.
For those looking to add a furry friend to their family this Christmas, BBB offers this additional advice:
• Consider adoption. Local animal shelters have hundreds of dogs and cats in need of a loving home. If you’re set on getting a purebred, look for animal rescue groups in your area that specialize in that breed.
• Check with BBB. If you choose to go through a breeder, check his or her BBB Business Review at bbb.org for history of complaints and details on those complaints.
• Ask to see the parents. Before bringing a puppy home, ask to see his or her parents and the living area where he or she was born and raised. Honest breeders will be happy to show you around. If the seller refuses or makes excuses, walk away.
• Ask for references. Ask the breeder for contact information of people who have bought puppies in the past. Try to talk to people who have had their pet a while in order to check for issues that may not be immediately apparent, like genetic problems.
• Use caution when searching online. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not purchase a puppy from a website. Beware of puppy ads with multiple spelling and grammatical errors; many pet scams come from overseas and scammers may often not have a full grasp on the English language. Never wire money to people you do not know. Also be aware that 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 it exists at all.
• Read contracts thoroughly. If the seller offers a health guarantee, make sure it is in writing and read it carefully for limits and proof requirements. Guarantees should cover more than a few weeks or days, since it can take weeks for symptoms to appear in illnesses like parvo and distemper. Genetic issues might not become apparent for years.
• Ask for medical records. Get a written account of all medical care your puppy has received, including vaccinations. Take this record to your vet during the pet’s first appointment.
• See a veterinarian immediately. Within a few days of bringing your puppy home, schedule a complete physical with your vet to make sure it is in good health.
• Keep your puppy quarantined. If you have other pets, keep them separated from your new puppy or pet until it is given a clean bill of health.