Don’t Fall For Internet Puppy Scams

ASPCA warns potential dog owners against false or misleading puppy ads online.

Posted: February 16, 2009, 5 a.m. EST

Online scammers are targeting potential dog owners with lures of pictures of purebred puppies and “free to good homes” ads. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, hundreds of complaints are filed each year by victims of these puppy scams. In response, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is warning individuals interested in buying a dog to be very careful when looking online.

“The best way to avoid being scammed is to simply never buy a dog you haven’t met in person,” says Cori Menkin, Esq., Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives for the ASPCA. “Internet scammers lure people with cute pictures of cuddly puppies, but the Internet is a vast, unregulated marketplace. People need to do their homework before they decide to get a pet through the Internet.”

To help potential dog owners avoid being scammed, the ASPCA offers the following tips:

  • Check references, including others who have purchased pets from a specific breeder, and the veterinarian the breeder works with.
  • Never send Western Union or money order payments.
  • Always visit. Reputable breeders and rescue groups will be more than happy to offer you a tour. (For a worksheet to take to interview a breeder, click here.)
  • Beware if you are told that there will be no refunds for a sick puppy. A reputable breeder or rescue group will always take the puppy back, regardless of the reason.
  • Pick your puppy up at the kennel. Do not have the puppy shipped or meet at a random location.

If you feel you have been a victim of a puppy scam, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Better Business Bureau.


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Genete   Santa Maria, CA

2/22/2009 2:28:44 PM

You should ALWAYS see the parents of the dogs, check out their home, & MOST IMPORTANT see if THEY are treated as pets NOT breeding machines. If you can't do this, then you don't need to buy from that breeder. If they won't let you see where the puppies are kept, then they are hiding something!!

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Galadriel   Lothlorien, ME

2/17/2009 11:21:55 PM

Good advice.

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Natalie   Greenbay, WI

2/17/2009 6:34:11 PM

They should also have an article about why you should NEVER BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STROE. Adopt!!! Or buy... from a breeder... but please- ADOPT!!!!!!!!

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Roberta   Wikieup, AZ

2/17/2009 11:12:19 AM

Totally agree, do your homework. My first Golden is from a backyard breeder. By the time she was 1 I had to have both hips replace. On the 2nd and 3rd Goldens I did some major checking out breeders and found a great one way across the country. They have been perfect. Though I left it up to the breeder to pick out my pup, I knew I was getting a great dog and not going to be scammed. And I did have both of these dogs shipped to me, but only because I knew this breeder was very honest, showed her dogs and safefy was the first thing for the puppies.

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