There may be nothing cuter than a puppy, but wait: Are you really going to try to train a new pet in the hustle and bustle of the holidays? How do you know you’re getting it from a reliable source?
Better Business Bureau advises waiting until a calmer time in your household to introduce a new pet. After all, who wants one more mess when you have a holiday meal to cook or a thousand errands to run before your family’s celebration?
Give yourself time to do the research you need to find a trustworthy breeder or consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter. Missouri is among the top states for so-called “puppy mills,” which often raise dogs in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
You may need to arrange training (for you and the dog) and purchase bedding and other supplies for a new pet.
BBB also reminds consumers to be aware of the potential for fraud or poor service from companies that sell pets. A 2017 BBB study of online puppy scams found nearly 80 percent of pay-per-click advertising in internet searches for pets may be scams, with consumers in their teens and 20s most susceptible to these scams.
Regardless of when you get a dog, BBB offers the following advice:
• Avoid puppy scammers. Scammers may make an emotional appeal to unsuspecting consumers, commonly through classified newspaper or online ads. A better way to find a good breeder is to ask friends for referrals or to look for a rescue group or animal shelter. Always check out the firm’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org. Read the results of a BBB investigation of one puppy scammer to familiarize yourself further with puppy scam techniques.
• Don’t be fooled by a well-designed website. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking but fraudulent website designed to lure potential buyers with cute puppy pictures they have downloaded from other breeders’ websites.
• 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, and you may never receive the puppy.
• Don’t wire money to a stranger.
• Request to see the puppy in person. Consider doing a reverse search on any photo to see if it’s used on other sites.
• Check 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. You can also search for a business’ BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.
• Avoid puppy mills. Some businesses that sell puppies aren’t scams, but also do not keep their animals safe and healthy. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before purchase and bring your puppy home personally, avoid purchasing a puppy from a website. When you have a puppy shipped from another area, you don’t know how that puppy has been treated or how healthy or young it is.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Profiles and BBB Charity Reviews by calling 573-886-8965 or by going online to bbb.org.
Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.