Cromwell, CT - According to Connecticut Better Business Bureau, consumers can avoid pitfalls associated with unscrupulous pet sellers by being extra cautious and doing their research. Even though the wide majority of breeders are ethical, criminals know that consumers will often turn to the internet when looking for a supplier without doing their homework. The results can be devastating and expensive.
"Sometimes scammers design a fancy website and post attractive images of pets, but that does not translate into ethical practices," according to Connecticut BBB spokesman Howard Schwartz. "If buyers are not careful, they may end up with a sick animal, financial losses and inadvertently supporting puppy mills."
A puppy mill is usually a rogue breeding operation that puts profits ahead of the well-being of its animals.
Many pet buyers can find great deals on pets on the internet, but never visit the breeders' facilities. A common internet scam involves "sellers" in other states, who claim they have healthy, even purebred cats and dogs at an unusually low price or for free. Unfortunately, at the last minute, the seller will likely ask for fees for paperwork and transportation before they can ship. If the victim is instructed to pay by an untraceable method such as cashier's check, gift cards or by wire transfer, that money cannot be recovered.
Buyers would be well-advised to visit breeding facilities, especially if they are located out of state, to ensure it is legitimate, takes care of its pets and has all of the necessary paperwork.
Some classified ads can also be a risky place to buy a pet. Sellers may offer a sad story explaining why it is urgent that they sell their pet as soon as possible. One of the problems is that criminals know that selling pets is big business and they are known to steal people's dogs from parks and even their owners' front yards in order to resell them.
Connecticut BBB offers these tips to avoid problems when buying a pet:
Deal with legitimate sellers - Check bbb.org and breeder associations to see if a purebred breeder is legitimate and whether it has a trail of satisfied customers or history of complaints.
Watch out "No Refunds" policies - If you are told by the seller they will not give you a refund for a sick puppy, this may be a sign that you are dealing with a puppy mill, instead of a legitimate breeder.
Check references - Find out what the sellers clients' experiences were like, the health of their animal and if there have been any medical problems.
Never buy a pet without visiting the breeding facility - A quick visit can tell you how well your future pet was cared for.
Avoid sellers who demand certain payment methods - These might include cash, gift cards, or cashier's check.
Pick up the pet rather than having it shipped - This can avoid problems with scammers who disappear with your money and don't deliver a pet.