Pets of all kinds are at your fingertips thanks to the internet. Nowadays many consumers take to the web in search of a perfect pet with endless options and the convenience of shopping from home. Whether you are searching for a special breed or comparison shopping, be sure you are working with reputable sellers. Better Business Bureau of Central New England has tips to help you navigate the process.
Consumers have several options of where to purchase pets. Some places maybe provide more certainty than others. Be sure to lookout for disreputable dealers. BBB has received reports of illegitimate websites selling special breed cats or dogs. The websites offer photos and contact info, but when money is sent, often by wire transfer, the pets are never delivered. Scammers may also post ads on sites like craigslist offering a low price for re-homing a beloved pet, but then do not follow through with the transaction. Be on the lookout for “puppy mills”, a term used to describe commercial breeders that place profit over animal well-being, sell high volumes of puppies. There are many reputable breeders, sellers and pet store out there, be patient and research the company you are thinking about doing business with. Always check bbb.org for a company’s background.
“Cute photos and a fair price can sometimes be a distraction. Remember that this pet is an investment and you want to be sure you are getting your money’s worth,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “Do not make quick decisions, pet care can cost thousands annually and the initial investment can be costly. There are plenty of reputable breeders and sellers out there, so take your time.” Scammers have been known to steal photos and descriptions of animals from legitimate websites and post them on their own to advertise for sale. Typically the animals are purebred or a special breed and the price is much lower than the market value, allowing consumers to think they are getting a deal. Following up on an ad, victims may be asked for additional costs related to fees, paperwork, veterinary visits, shipping charges or insurance. Unfortunately the pet never arrives and the victims are usually at a loss for any monies they sent, too.
BBB has tips to consider before purchasing a new pet:
Consider buying local. Buying from a local breeder or pet store allows you the opportunity to visit with the animal and check out the facility before making a purchase. You can see firsthand the animal’s health and their current living conditions. Having an animal shipped does not allow the opportunity to make sure the animal is healthy, or if it even exists.
Don’t be fooled by fancy websites. Scam operators may create multiple websites, shutting one down and creating another to stay ahead of skeptics. Be sure to research the company thoroughly while you are shopping online. You can also ask for references and talk to people who have purchased animals from them in the past to gather more information on the business.
Don’t be tempted with deals or sales. The price should be comparable to market averages. Do research to get some estimates. Be skeptical of extremely low prices, it can be a red flag.
Ask for medical records and pedigree documentation. Get a written account of all medical care, including vaccinations and antibiotics. Take the pet and the documents to your local vet during the first few days of bringing them home.