Who can resist puppies? I remember going to “just look” at a puppy with my husband and son: We came home with it that very night.
But bringing a puppy into the hubbub of the holidays could be a mistake. Most of us are busy enough without having to train a new pet in between planning holiday meals, unwrapping gifts and visiting family and friends.
The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to consider the family’s needs, time and ability to care for a pet. If a pet still feels like a fit, consider giving a “pet voucher” to use after the holidays, when the stress level isn’t as high.
Besides timing, the BBB urges consumers to be aware of puppy scams, which offer pets through classified ads or online sites. Many pet lovers have paid scammers for pets but never received them. In some cases, the scammers kept coming up with vet bills and other fees in attempts to get the victims to give them more money.
Missouri is home to many “puppy mills,” which sometimes raise dogs in crowded or unsanitary conditions. A BBB study two years ago found that a fourth of the nation’s dog breeders were in Missouri.
The BBB’s tips on buying puppies include:
- Never send money without 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. Scammers will keep asking for more money for unexpected - and fraudulent – costs, and you may never receive the puppy.
- Check a breeder out. Many companies’ BBB Business Reviews are available at www.bbb.org.