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. BBB also advises consumers to check breeders out carefully before buying or adopting a puppy to avoid potential health problems or scams.
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.