Purchasing a puppy over the holidays? Check your list twice

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What could be more charming than surprising the kids with a puppy this holiday season? That’s a fun sentiment, but the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is advising consumers to think carefully before giving a puppy as a present this holiday season.

With emotions running high and everyone busy, giving a puppy as a present during the holidays can be stressful for both you and the new pet.

Puppies are an exciting new addition to any family, but many animal experts discourage introducing a new pet, especially a young one, into the family during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. If you have your heart set on surprising the family, give them a “gift voucher” for the dog and pick one out together after the holidays.

Regardless of when you buy or rescue your new dog, the BBB and the American Kennel Club offer the following advice:

Don’t fall victim to a puppy scammer.  Because of the emotional investment in buying a puppy, scammers are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Make sure to ask around for a breeder, rescue group, or shelter referral. Always check out the business’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.

Don’t be fooled by a well-designed website. Many scammers create phony websites to defraud people looking to find a puppy. If you locate a puppy online, never 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. Be aware that if you’re asked to wire money, you may very well be dealing with a scammer.

Don’t support puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, don’t 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 there’s even a puppy for sale. Many hopeful pet buyers have been disappointed to learn money they thought was going towards a puppy actually wound up in the pocket of unscrupulous operators.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of scammers who offer to gift you their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it generally always is. In some cases like this, scammers will ask for more and more money for “unexpected” fees and taxes, bilking people for as long as they can until the victim realizes the offer is bogus.

For more tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org/us/Consumer-Tips/.

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. BBB hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222. Visit the BBB Centennial website at wwwbbbis100.org.


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