BBB Urges Caution When Buying Puppies For The Holidays

December 13, 2012

puppy with Santa hatBringing a new puppy into your family over the holidays may sound appealing, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to think twice before giving a puppy as a present this holiday season.

“The holidays can be stressful enough without the added burden of training a new pet,” said Michael Coil, President and CEO. “The BBB also advises consumers to check breeders out carefully before buying or adopting a puppy to avoid potential health problems or scams.”

"Puppy mills" often raise dogs in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.

Many animal experts counsel potential pet owners to avoid introducing a new pet, especially a young one, into the family during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Anyone with their heart set on surprising a family with a dog should consider the family’s needs and desires first. One alternative is to give a “pet voucher” for the dog, then 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.  Scammers may make an emotional appeal to unsuspecting consumers, commonly through classified ads in the newspaper or on sites like Craigslist. A better way to find a good breeder is to ask friends for referrals  or to look for a rescue group or animal shelter. Always check out the firm’s BBB Business Review at
  • Never send money without first checking a breeder or shelter’s credentials. If you locate a puppy through a website, do not 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.
  • Don’t support puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not 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 the puppy exists at all.
  • Don't be fooled by a well designed website. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking but fraudulent website designed to lure the potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of scammers who offer to "re-home" their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees. If a free purebred puppy sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers will continually ask for more money for unexpected - and fraudulent – costs, and you may never receive the puppy.

Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews and charity reviews by calling 1.800.552.4631 or by going online to