St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 5, 2013 – Adding a puppy to your family over the holidays may sound appealing, but Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to think twice before giving or adopting a puppy this holiday season.
“New pets require a lot of work and training when your stress level already is high,” said Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO. “BBB also advises consumers to check breeders out carefully before buying or adopting a puppy to avoid potential health problems or scams.”
Missouri is among the top states for so-called “puppy mills,” which often raise dogs in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. A BBB study of the puppy industry found that a fourth of the nation’s breeders were in Missouri, partly because of lax laws on licensing. A law aimed at tightening regulation of dog breeders was passed that year, but results have been mixed.
Many experts counsel potential pet owners to avoid introducing a new pet, especially a young one, into the family during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Anyone whose heart is set on surprising a family with a dog should consider the family’s needs and desires first. One alternative is to give a “pet voucher” that can be used to pick out a pet after the holidays.
Regardless of when you get a dog, BBB and the American Kennel Club offer 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 Review at www.bbb.org.
- 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.
- Avoid puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not purchase a puppy from a website. When you have a puppy shipped from another area, you don’t know how that puppy has been treated, how healthy or young it is, or whether or not the puppy exists at all.
- Don't be fooled by a well-designed website. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking but fraudulent website designed to lure the potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.
- 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.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews and charity reviews by calling (314) 645-3300 or by going online to www.bbb.org.
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743 or 314-681-4719 (cell), email@example.com