Marian, a 75-year-old grandmother from Nampa, is crazy for Maltese. These fuzzy, cuddly adorable dogs have been part of her life for many years, so when she began to look for a replacement to the one she'd lost, she was insatiably blinded to the signs of a scam.
"I looked in the newspapers," she says, "and there was never any puppies listed. So, I thought to myself, these young kids all list them on the Internet."
And, sure enough, there were puppies galore. With the listing of purebreds costing thousands of dollars, she became a little discouraged, but continued to search.
"And, then I saw this ad from a veterinarian who had a picture of these two little puppies being held by her daughter," she says. "I thought this was a miracle, and all they wanted was someone to adopt them and provide them with a loving, caring home."
Marian had fallen in love with a puppy. She is not alone. Each year BBB receives thousands of complaints of people who go online searching for the perfect companion pet. Too many are disappointed when they discover there is no puppy, and the money they'd spent to receive the animal had gone overseas.
After corresponding with the breeder by email, and sending off $180 for transportation, a second request for money tipped her off that she had been victimized.
"I worried all night long about that little puppy on the plane," she says. "I made this decision with my heart, and not my head."
Internet buying makes it so easy to fall victim when the heart is in the way. Too many people lose focus when they are searching for the ideal, and fall emotionally in love with the item before ever having physical confirmation of its existence.
Remember, this does not only apply to puppies, but any purchase you are making over the Internet. Key motto: Buyer Beware!
Here are some things to remember for online purchasing.
- Over accommodating breeders.
- Door-to-door delivery that requires a down payment or full payment upfront through a wire transfer.
- Verify that pictures of the animal are up-to-date, and not simply someone else's puppy taken from another Internet site. Ask for a picture of the puppy with a copy of that day's newspaper posed next to it.
- Use more than one method of communication. Email, fax or phone calls can sometimes give hints that the caller is outside the United States.
- Make a payment with a credit card, since credit cards offer protection through cancellation. Wire transfers are hard to trace and cannot be recalled.
- Ask for references, other people who have adopted or purchased an animal. Good breeders a proud of their litters, and will be accommodating.
And lastly, remember if you don't feel comfortable, or your subconscious nags you, walk away. Good bloodlines and breeders want to ensure that buyer, and their litter, are a happy match.