BBB Warns of Online Dog Breeder Scam

August 12, 2014

BBB Warns of Online Dog Breeder ScamsMarlborough, MA - Better Business Bureau is warning dog lovers to be cautious when responding to online or newspaper classifieds. Scammers posing as a breeder or dog owner will place an ad offering inexpensive puppies. Communicating solely through emails, the scammer may also claim they are moving to a foreign country and need to "re-home" the puppies.

Consumers may be taken in by the sincerity of the scammers. The con-artist may say they don't care about money and just want to find a good home for their beloved pup.

Then, the scammers will ask for fees to cover shipping or re-homing the pet. These scammers may also try to take advantage of the buyer's identity by probing for personal information like your birthday, address and phone number - all while masking it as "getting to know who's buying their puppy."

Often, sellers will request a wire transfer or prepaid debit card for payment. These are red flags that should be avoided, or you may end up without your money, as well as the puppy.

BBB offers the following advice when searching online for a new pet:

Do your research. Search for a reputable breeder and always ask for references. Check out for reviews from previous customers, information on advertising issues and other important details. All too often, unsuspecting people purchase puppies from puppy mills, which result in temperament or health issues down the line.

Visit the breeder first. It is essential to visit the breeder at their home to see the entire litter, the care and conditions given to the puppies, and the puppy’s parents prior to purchasing. This will allow you to see if the environment is clean and healthy for the puppies, as well as the temperament and quality of the older dogs.

Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned with getting paid. Any reputable breeder will be far more concerned with the appropriateness of the potential pet home than what and when they are getting paid. Make sure you have clear expectations - ideally in writing - of how and when the puppy will be paid for. Be especially wary of any breeder who insists you wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

Don't be fooled by a slick website. Dishonest breeders and even outright scams can be represented by professional-looking websites that lure you in with fraudulent pictures of adorable puppies. Anyone who has experienced a dog-related scam should report it to local authorities as well as your local Better Business Bureau.

Take your time. Beware of breeders who claim to have multiple breeds ready to ship immediately. It's highly unlikely your perfect puppy will be available for shipping on the day you call. Gestation and socialization of a litter takes months. No puppy should be separated from the mother before 8 weeks of age.

Get a referral. Don’t forget you can always get referrals for reputable breeders from your veterinarian, friends and family, and local kennel clubs. Remember, responsible breeders will want to interview you to make sure the puppy is the perfect fit for you and your family.

For more information on dog breeding scams, visit

ABOUT BBB:  For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, all available for free at 

The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont was founded in 1920.
Paula Fleming is Chief Marketing & Sales Officer for Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT.  Find Paula on Google+.  Find Paula on Google+.