Be Careful Buying a Pet Online: Officials

The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning soon-to-be pet owners of the risks buying their furry friends online.

Residents have lost hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars buying so-called purebred puppies from fraudulent websites and dishonest breeders, according to the BBB. Many of these dogs can come from “puppy mills,” where conditions are often inhumane.

“We love our pets, we get excited about them and our emotions often play into these scams,” said BBB Executive Communications Director Howard Schwartz. “Con artists know this and they try to lure clients with various offers, such as a pedigree pup for half of the common market price.”

According to the BBB, many of these deceptive sellers steal photographs and information from other websites and trick the buyer into purchasing a pet that doesn't actually exist. The animals may be priced significantly below market value, but costs add up when pet lovers are asked to pay extra fees.

Sometimes, sellers will ask for wire transfers and will make off with the buyer’s money. Other times, they may steal animals from unsuspecting pet owners and try to resell them over the Internet, the BBB warns.

Officials are urging prospective pet owners to buy animals locally, visit the breeding facility when possible and pick up a new pup in person instead of having it delivered.

Double check to be sure the asking price makes sense, research the reputation of the breeder or seller and make sure to obtain the animal’s medical records and/or a pedigree.

The BBB’s final tip: consider adopting a rescue pet from a local shelter instead.

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