According to reports, online pet scams have seen a 24% increase in 2023, with almost a fifth (19%) solely attributed to dog-selling scams.
To help people looking to buy a puppy online, experts at Puppy Hero have shared useful tips on how to do so safely and how to avoid falling for a scam.
Professional dog trainer and breeder, Tommy Wylde also provided useful insight on how to stay safe when buying a dog online and the important things to look out for before signing an agreement.
1. Make sure the breeder is legitimate
Once you’ve found an online breeder or website from which you would like to purchase a puppy, be sure to spend time going through the website and checking for anything that might look suspicious. It’s important to contact the breeder, asking for details on the dog’s history, traits, and any possible genetic concerns. Genuine dog breeders would be knowledgeable and shouldn’t have a problem giving you detailed information. If that’s not the case or if they’re hesitant to speak to you over the phone, those can be potential warning signs to look out for.
Tommy Wylde, a professional dog trainer and breeder, adds: “When buying a dog from a breeder, you need to have all information available about the dog’s medical records, vaccinations, family tree, but also growth rate and perhaps a journal with photos from birth (or before birth) until the sale.”
2. If possible, meet the breeder in person at their facility
The most secure way to be sure a breeder is legitimate is to meet them in person at their home or facility. This will allow you to observe the conditions in which the dogs live and the dogs themselves. If doing so, make sure to ask to see the mother of the dog you’re potentially going to buy. A genuine dog breeder wouldn’t have an issue with showing you the puppy’s mother.
Tommy Wylde, a professional dog trainer and breeder, adds: “It’s always best to visit in person, and I recommend visiting more than once during the first two months of your pup’s life to follow along. If you cannot visit in person, try to at least visit with video calls.”
3. Don’t forget to ask for references
For extra peace of mind, you can ask the breeder to provide you with any references from past clients. This is especially important if there are no reviews you can look through on their website. A further step would be to find out if there are any shelters or veterinarians in proximity to the breeder’s location and contact them to ask whether they could give you some information about the practices and reputability of the breeder.
Tommy Wylde, a professional dog trainer and breeder, adds: “Some breeders follow tabs on the dogs they have previously sold, and some even have yearly “pup owner events” where they invite past clients to come spend a day or two with their dogs. These kinds of things aren’t a must, but if a breeder goes out of his way to arrange this kind of thing, it’s a good sign. Also check what kennel clubs and associations the breeder is associated with and what they might say about them.”
4. Thoroughly research prices
Make sure to take the time to do thorough research on the standard prices for the specific dog breed you’re looking to get. Contact other breeders or pet stores to ask about the general price of the dog breed you’re interested in. If the breeder you’re looking to buy from is giving you a price way below the market value, they might be trying to scam you.
5. Be careful with the payment
Don’t pay the full price of the puppy in advance, especially if you haven’t seen it in person. A breeder might tell you they’re going to deliver the puppy to you after payment, but they never do so. If a payment method doesn’t seem trustworthy, trust your instincts and try looking for a puppy somewhere else.