Classified Ad Sellers (Beware) 

Uninformed puppy-buyers often think nothing of buying a dog from a classified ad having no idea that the cute photos and misleading statements often have no basis in reality. Puppy-peddlers rely on internet sales to hide the true nature of their business. Puppy millers, brokers and dog flippers sell thousands of puppies each year through internet classified ads.  Popular sites include local newspapers, Ebay Kijji and Hoobly. 

Many puppy sellers that sell directly to the public are exempt from any federal oversight whatsoever. Without regulation and oversight internet sellers may not have incentives to properly care for the dogs. Improper care of the adult breeding dogs often leave their puppies sick which results in outraged consumers who have to care for frail, sometimes dying puppies and high vet bills. Meanwhile, the breeding dogs at these facilities often spend their entire lives in constant confinement and deprivation.

In addition to bad puppy sellers, there are also scam artists waiting for a puppy-buyer to wire money for a puppy that never arrives. Read “Internet Scams below”.   

Guidelines we suggest potential puppy-buyers should follow: 

  • Avoid scams and bad breeders by visiting your local shelter instead.
  • Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned about getting paid.
  • Don't be fooled by a slick website.
  • Take your time and beware of breeders who claim to have multiple breeds ready to ship immediately.
  • Report scams to the local Better Business Bureau and local authorities.
  • Don't wire money.
  • Always meet the breeder and the puppy parents before you buy the dog.
  • Take your time. Don't be pressured into purchasing a puppy by slick salesmanship.

Internet Puppy Scams

From the ASPCA

As more and more Americans turn to the web to find the pet of their dreams, scams have skyrocketed as criminals seek to take advantage of unsuspecting pet parents. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, hundreds of complaints are filed each year by victims who were conned when attempting to buy a dog online.

One potential pet parent, Diane, was hoping to add a Yorkshire Terrier puppy to her family when she spotted a classified ad in her local paper. “It was over my morning coffee that I saw the perfect ad for a Yorkie named Nancy,” says Diane, who lives near Cleveland, OH. She sent an email to the address listed, and immediately received a response—Diane could have the puppy if she promised her a loving home and sent $500 to cover the shipping fees.

“I corresponded for an entire week with this man who claimed to be a missionary,” Diane explains. Diane sent the requested payment via Western Union, but once she sent the code for the money transfer, she never heard from the “pastor” again.

Like many trusting animal lovers, Diane fell victim to one of many “free to good home” scams currently circulating the Internet and classified sections of newspapers. So how do you avoid persuasive cons and still get the dog of your dreams? The ASPCA recommends never buying a dog you haven’t met in person and always check references. Also, keep in mind that adoption is still the best option, even if you have your heart set on a purebred dog. There are thousands of dogs waiting for good homes at local animal shelters, including purebreds! Please help others avoid being cheated by emailing your puppy scam story to dogstory@aspca.org.

By Marianne Goldstein 

"The Early Show" consumer affairs correspondent Susan Koeppen reports on an online scam that tries to lure pet lovers into buying puppies from Africa. (CBS)  Once again, the old adage is correct: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

In recent weeks, an e-mail plea has blanketed the Internet, similar to a classified advertisement that has appeared in newspapers all over the country, offering high-end pedigreed puppies for bargain basement prices — $200 for a Yorkshire Terrier that would normally sell for up to 10 times the price. 

The e-mail pleas and classifieds say that the author is a dog breeder who is on a religious mission in Africa and needs to unload the puppies — to good homes — as soon as possible. Those interested are told to send their money (to cover shipping and handling) to an address in Nigeria and the dogs would arrive in several weeks. 

Not surprisingly, the puppies never arrive. 

Joy Schick was hoping to add a Yorkie to her family when she spotted a classified ad in her local Florida paper. "I found one for $450, which almost sounded too good to be true," she told The Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen. 

She sent an email, and got an immediate response from the owner, who was in Africa, asking Joy to send money to pay for shipping the dog to the U.S. "But he wanted me to wire the money and I delayed doing it before I checked out a few more things and then I decided it was a hoax." 

She eventually did get her puppy, Fred, but she purchased the dog from a local breeder. "To take advantage of people who are looking for someone to love — it's just not right," Schick said. 

Koeppen herself made contact with the scammers: "When I got online requesting information about puppies, it didn't take long for me to get several e-mail responses — all of them from people with puppies who needed good homes — all of them happened to be on a mission in Africa," she reported. 

Reputable breeders like Christopher Vicari say the Internet scams have been going on for a while. Vicari, who breeds sweet-faced, snowy white Maltese, says the scammers are so bold, they actually swipe photos of his dogs from his Web site and use them as part of their sales pitch: "This is common," he said. (Vicari has posted some general consumer guidelines for Maltese breeders on his Web site.) 

According to Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, "The scammers who do reach out in this way are out for one thing and it's not to give you a puppy. There never were any puppies there never will be any puppies because the scammer will walk away with one thing — your money."