Puppy scams have many elements of common consumer problems, but with the added element of cruelty. This alert will help you SPOT and STOP puppy scams.
Remember this: Puppies are sold commercially by breeders, in pet stores, and online, and any seller can use deceptive practices.
Some breeders sell directly to consumers. Buy in person and demand to see the premises and the mother. When dealing directly with a breeder, look for:
Almost all pet store puppies come from puppy mills, but the stores pretend they are boutiques with purebreds or “designer” mixed breeds. Michigan is one of the top 10 states for the number of complaints about puppies purchased from pet stores.
Puppies in pet stores are often separated from their mothers much earlier than they should be. Pet stores do this because customers like to buy younger puppies. Responsible breeders will keep the puppies until they are eight weeks old and won’t want their puppies to be kept in small cages with little socialization. Good breeders want to meet the owners of their puppies to ensure they are going to the right homes and will typically require the buyer to promise to spay or neuter the puppy. When buying a puppy from a pet store, look for:
Never purchase (or put a deposit on) a pet sight-unseen. Responsible breeders do not sell their puppies to someone they have not met and screened in person. Shipping very young puppies long distances can be stressful and harmful for the puppy; do the travel yourself and pick up the puppy in person.
When you find an ad or website for puppies, avoid:
Puppy rip-off artists often use free websites, newspapers, and social media to lure victims. They advertise puppies that do not exist and send photos that are stolen from other sites. A typical internet puppy scam starts when a consumer finds a website advertising their dream puppy. The website includes pictures of adorable puppies listed by name, breed and seller. To buy a puppy, consumers must wire a few hundred dollars for a deposit to hold the puppy. Once that payment is received, the consumer is asked to send more money for shipping, insurance or other costs, like an “adoption fee.” No puppy is ever delivered.
An easy way to SPOT an online puppy scam is to conduct an online image search of the puppy’s photo to see where else the picture is posted on the internet. (Enter “how to search by image” in a search engine for instructions.) If you find the image on more than one website, it’s a good bet it is a scam.
Watch for these red flags:
Common scam tactics used by internet sellers to get more money from a consumer:
Do not deal with sellers from other countries. Even in the unlikely case that an overseas seller is legitimate, shipping young puppies such a long distance can be harmful and dangerous for the puppy.
Records you should keep include:
To report a scam, file a complaint, or get additional information, contact the Michigan Attorney General:Consumer Protection Division
You can also report a puppy scam to: