Thinking about buying a puppy?
Start here and avoid falling for puppy scams.

Since more people are working from home, a lot of families have decided to use this chance to introduce a new family member into their home. A Puppy!

Unfortunately, there are more and more people falling victim to scammers pretending to be breeders selling puppies that don't exist. But not you, because you're about to know all you need to spot a puppy scam from a mile away.

The online puppy scamming process goes something like this:

Step 1:
A person interested in buying  a puppy begins searching the web for breeders and their websites, but is lured in with a search result of "buy puppies online" or something similar.

To be fair, this would easily catch the eye of any person living in today's world & beginning the process of buying a puppy.

Step 2:
Usually, the puppies online are selling for much lower prices than breeders in the area. This is of course an added benefit that goes nicely with the convenience of buying a puppy online.

Step 3:
The person will put in their due diligence to research the website selling puppies online for any red flags.
And after a couple of "is legit" or "puppies-us reviews" searches in Google, the person might even then follow the steps they believe will validate the online "breeder".

Step 4:
Once the online "breeder"  makes the person feel safe by providing things like other videos, pictures, and having  phone number with appropriate area code to their claimed location, the payment for the puppy and cost of shipping the puppy to its new home is discussed and agreed upon.

Step 5:
The person buying a puppy sends over payment total for puppy and shipping via Paypal, Venmo, etc. to the online “breeder”.
The online “breeder” will then contact the person for more an additional payment because of unforeseen extra costs.

Step 6:
When the person objects, that’s when the online “breeder” disappears, along with the money that the person had already sent. There was never actually a puppy to be given,

What’s more disturbing is there are reports of these scams happening offline, with "breeders" claiming to be "local" and not selling puppies online, but in-person.

Some areas have been getting so many reports of these scams that local Sheriff Offices are sending out text messages to alert the community! Recently I read about several cases when the scammers were able to steal credit card information and cause even more trouble as time went on.

The process of the "local breeders” performing the scam is the same. They ask for a deposit to be sent over right away to ensure a puppy is held for the person and will then agree on a time and place to meet the person to deliver their new puppy the following day.

But when the time comes to deliver the puppy to its new owner, the “local breeders” don’t show up at the agreed time and place; their phone numbers no longer valid. And almost every time, it's impossible for the person to take any legal action.

The most popular breeds used by these low-life scammers are Yorkshire Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pomeranians, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

A good rule of thumb is that whatever breeds are trending and hardest to find at the time, are also going to be used the most often in scams.

How to sniff out a puppy scam?

The number one, absolute foolproof way to avoid falling for a puppy scam: Do not pay for any puppy sight unseen. (And no, video chat does not count.)
(That same rule goes for adopting any dog too.)

The best and quickest way to rule out whether it's a breeder or a scammer is by asking one single question, no matter what.

When speaking to any breeder for the first time, simply ask when is the soonest day you could come see the puppy. It doesn't matter if you are on the opposite side of the country from where the breeder claims to be located, you still ask when the soonest date would be for you to come visit.

If the breeder tries to talk you out of visiting, starts asking lots of questions that aren't relevant to you visiting, or refuses to set a date for you to visit, or tries to convince you that a visit isn't necessary for whatever reason...RUN!

The American Kennel Club has this in-depth guide on how to identify a puppy scam. I highly recommend reading it over before you reach out to any breeders.

While I fully understand and respect that adopting an older or younger dog, or even adopting one of the many many puppies surrendered to shelters and rescue groups might not be the right or best choice, you'll never know unless you keep an open mind and explore it as an option, right? 

Rescuing versus buying is another surefire to drastically reduce the chances of falling victim to a puppy scam.

There are some situations when buying from a breeder is the only option. And there is nothing wrong with doing the research and having the patience to find an ethical, reputable breeder who will give the gift of a healthy, quality puppy to join your family.

However, there's a reason more people decide to be scammers and these puppy scams in particular continue to be on the rise: they're successful.

The high number of people not taking the time to properly research a breeder is one of the main reasons these puppy scams are so successful.

Start off on the right foot of pet ownership. Always take the time to research and learn the qualities of a reputable breeder and support the ones closest to you before buying any puppy in another state. 

There are so many free resources like this guide on how to evaluate a breeder by the humane society, and this guide to finding responsible breeders exist all over the internet to make research easier on you. 

As passionate I am about rescuing, I believe it is far more productive to educate people on how to support reputable breeders than shaming them for not adopting instead. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Do you have a rescue dog you’re proud of?

Show off your rescued dog and start inspiring more people to rescue. 

Click here to learn how with two white stripes.

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