In the market for a best friend

Published 6:06 pm Friday, June 21, 2019

Most animal lovers will always fall for a puppy — puppy dog eyes and puppy breath and puppy playfulness just can’t be resisted. Now there’s a certain breed of scammers out there who are relying on exactly that.

Two entities in North Carolina have been reported for scamming people out of money on the promise of puppies in return. However, they’re not getting what they pay for. According to Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina, while most “puppy scams” take place around the holidays, there are some that operate year round. One BBB complainant said she paid $500 for her Dachshund puppy, then was charged an additional $1,275 for a crate and shipping, when she was told shipping would be free; another said he’d wired money for two poodle puppies but received no puppies at all, though the website stated the company had a 100% money back guarantee on its website.

Apparently, pet scams are pretty common: BBB’s Scam Tracker has received 907 reports of this kind of fraud, while the Federal Trade Commission has a growing list of more than 37,000 complaints involving pets.

If you or someone you know is in the market for a puppy, protect yourself from scammers. BBB offers the following tips to avoid puppy scams:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an Internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
  • Never pay a stranger with a money order or through Western Union or Moneygram.
  • Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent offer.
  • Report scams to the BBB Scam Tracker at

Then again, those in the market for a puppy don’t have to go the way of a breeder. There are plenty of hopeful pets waiting at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility, the shelter in Washington. Your new best friend might be right here at home.