Q. My wife wants to give the kids a puppy for Christmas. I am skeptical, what advice may BBB provide?
A. Pets are popular gifts around the holidays, but giving a pet as a present can be stressful for both you and the new pet, particularly if you’re not careful. Yearly, the Better Business Bureau network receives 100’s of complaints against dog breeders. Complaints ranged from health issues to non-existent puppies. BBB advises consumers to think twice before investing in and giving a puppy as a present this holiday season. A puppy can be a fantastic holiday gift, but only if you make sure it’s the right gift at the right time and you purchase from someone you can trust.
BBB provides the following advice on purchasing an animal this holiday season:
* Do your homework. Because of the emotional investment in buying a puppy, scammers are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Take the time to look at the business track record by examining its BBB Business Profile at bbb.org. Also, make sure your child or recipient wants a puppy. Online customer reviews on the business are usually available.
* Watch out for puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally; use extreme caution when looking for puppies online. When a puppy is being shipped you don’t know how that puppy has been treated, the cleanliness of the facility, age or how healthy.
* Ask to see the parents. Before bringing a puppy home, ask to see the parents and the living area where he or she was born and raised. Honest breeders will be happy to show you around. If the seller refuses or makes excuses, that is typically a red flag and you should walk away.
* Watch out for fake websites and fake pictures. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking website designed to lure the potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.
* Consider adoption local. There are many reasons to consider local pet adoption. Pets are typically healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Many shelters spay or neuter the pets, making it even more affordable. Sadly, more than 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year, so by adopting you also may be saving an animal’s life.
* Be aware of payment concerns. Be wary of business’s that require payment through wire transfer and prepaid debit card only. Be aware that wire transactions are almost impossible to reverse or trace. They are widely used by scammers.
* Read contracts thoroughly. If the seller offers a health guarantee, make sure it is in writing and read it carefully for limits, doctor restrictions, and proof requirements. Guarantees should cover more than a few weeks or days. It can take weeks for symptoms to appear in illnesses like parvo and distemper. Genetic issues may not become apparent for years.
To view additional consumer and business Tips during the holiday season, visit bbb.org. To report or view scam and fraud activity in our area, visit Chattanooga.bbb.org/scamtracker.