FRESNO, Calif. - Seeing an adorable puppy under the tree may seem like the perfect holiday gift to some, but making a new puppy a successful gift requires planning and extensive research. Many soon to be pet parents are completely unprepared for what a new puppy entails. Not only are new puppies a lifetime of responsibility, but they are also expensive and demand your full attention. People melt when they see a new puppy, and scammers know this. Scammers are professionals at tugging on your heart strings, and they use this to their full advantage by posing as reputable breeders. Not only do you have to worry about scammers selling you a non-existent puppy, but you have to worry about where your dog actually came from, and if they are a puppy mill puppy in poor health. Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties recommend the following advice when purchasing that perfect puppy this holiday season. Avoid puppy millsPuppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is placed above the well-being of the animals. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Many of these dogs are plagued with congenital and hereditary conditions. When picking out your new furry friend, it’s best to take a tour and visit with the facility. This can possibly tell you how they have been treated, what health problems they may come home with, or if they even exist at all. California recently became the first state in the Nation to ban the sale of dogs from puppy mills in local pet stores across the entire state when Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 485 into law. After January 2019, pet stores can only sell animals from adoption centers, rescue groups or animal shelters, or face a fine of $500 for the sale of any animal that is not a rescue. As of today, there are approximately 100 or so pet stores that are already selling dogs and cats acquired from commercial breeders. This new law will change that. According to the Humane Society, irresponsible breeding leads to an estimated 1.5 million animals euthanized in the United States each year, and puppy mills supply 99 percent of all dogs sold in pet stores nationwide. In California, 36 cities already have laws in effect banning mass breeding operations including San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe, Sacramento and Los Angeles, but this new bill will spread these policies statewide. This new law also applies to cats and rabbits as well. Find a reputable breederWhile this new California law bans the sales of animals in pet stores from any place other than a shelter or rescue group, those who are looking for a purebred puppy or a specific dog breed can still get their hands on one by way of a reputable and licensed breeder. Any reputable breeder would not sell their puppies to a pet store, instead most have a waiting list and only sell to interested families who have contacted them first. Reputable breeders will allow you to visit the premises, has dogs that appear lively, clean and healthy, and encourages you to spend time with the puppy or the parents first. They also have a strong relationship with a local vet in town, doesn’t always have a puppy readily available, but keeps a wait list for interested parties, provides you with a written contract and a health guarantee, offers guidance for the care and training of your puppy, and is available for assistance after you take your puppy home. Don’t be surprised if the breeder turns the tables on you and starts asking you questions. To many breeders these dogs are their children, so they won’t give them up to just anyone. AdoptThis law is not only aimed at discouraging abusive breeding, but it also aims to promote the adoption of shelter animals. According to the LA times, in California, it costs taxpayers an estimated $250 million each year to pick up, house and often euthanize unwanted animals. According to the Central California SPCA based out of Fresno, Ca, from July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016, there were 22,574 live intakes, including 19,096 stray/at large animals that were rescued and brought to their shelter. Of those 22,000+ animals, over 12,500 were euthanized by the shelter due to overpopulation, and only 3,852 were successfully adopted. Adopting a dog could be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, but just like buying from a breeder; you still need to do your research. Whatever dog breed you decide is best for your family, you can find in a shelter or a rescue group. Before you choose to adopt, ask questions. Ask the shelter if they know anything about the dogs history like where they came from and if they have any medical issues, if they are spayed/neutered and what vaccines have they already had, and if you can spend some alone time with the dog. Even if the shelter doesn’t have all the answers about the pups past, spending that one on one time with them may tell you all you need to know. Beware of phony websites Almost anyone can create a professional looking website, and scammers will use this to lure a potential buyer. Scammers often download cute puppy pictures from an actual breeder’s website, and then pose as the owner of these furry friends.According to a new BBB report, “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers,” at least 80 percent of sponsored advertising links in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent, and in all there may be hundreds or even thousands of fake websites offering pets for sale. Pick up your dog Whether you’re buying from a breeder, or adopting from a shelter, it’s always a good idea to pick up your new furry friend in person rather than having it shipped or delivered. Scammers promise to ship you the puppy after you’ve paid, but that rarely ever happens and you are out of money and without a furry companion. Watch how you payIf the breeder pressures you to wire money or pay via a gift card, then take that as a huge red flag and look elsewhere. It’s recommended to pay via a credit card so you can easily dispute any fraudulent charges. Be preparedPets require a lot more than just a leash, a bed and some dog food. In fact, pets are a huge expense that owners need to be fully prepared for. According to American Pet Products Association, Americans are projected to spend nearly $70 billion on their furry friends before this year’s end, with a majority of that going to food, supplies and veterinary care. Not only do you need to be fully prepared in terms of cost, but you must be prepared to spend time with your new friend as well. Dogs require training, socialization, walks and round the clock attention. They are 100 percent dependent on you, so take that into consideration before bringing a new pup home. If you or anyone you know has experienced a dog-related scam, they should report it immediately to their local authorities as well as their local BBB.ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties which was founded in 1950 and serves Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Tulare, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.