An informal online survey conducted by the ASPCA reveals that just as many Americans are now purchasing their dogs over the Internet as buying from pet stores. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, hundreds of complaints are filed every year from victims who were scammed when buying a dog online. While there are some reputable breeders online, they are far and few between, and none of them will ship a puppy to you without meeting you first. Even though they may advertise online, responsible breeders will not make the transaction online. Here are some of the most common scam scenarios puppy mill breeders use on consumers:
The Bait and Switch
In this classic scam, the website depicts dozens of photos of cute and cuddly, happy and healthy dogs and puppies for sale. What the consumer doesn’t realize is that these are stock photos used over and over again—or simply stolen from other websites. In this scam, virtually all contact is done via email, and the puppy is typically shipped without the buyer ever seeing the dog in person. The scam is revealed when the dog is delivered and the buyer is faced not with the adorable puppy from the photos, but a sickly dog, often of a different color or with different markings. Scammers count on people feeling guilty or compassionate and choosing not to send the puppy back.
Sanctuaries or Scamtuaries?
Unfortunately, this next scam preys on animal lovers who want to help dogs in need. In this scenario, the puppy mill will actually set up its website as a “rescue group” or “sanctuary,” offering purebred puppies who have been rescued from shelters, bad breeders, even from puppy mills! The scam is revealed by the price tag—the “adoption fees” for these dogs often exceed $1,000! Breed rescue groups usually charge no more than a few hundred dollars—because their goal is not to make money, but to find wonderful homes for their rescues.
AKC registry is a service provided by the American Kennel Club. While many people believe AKC registration means their puppies came from reputable breeders, being AKC-registered means nothing more than your puppy’s parents both had AKC papers. While there are some AKC standards, they do not restrict puppy mills from producing AKC-registered dogs. The fact is, many AKC-registered dogs are born in puppy mills.
Never buy a puppy you haven’t met in person. Make adoption your first option or choose a responsible breeder.
Check out the ASPCA’s criteria for responsible breeding.