I recently received a call from a potential puppy buyer asking about a puppy I had supposedly advertised on backpage.com. Since I had never heard of the site much less advertised there, I was curious and asked for the URL so I could see for myself. Sure enough the description of one of the puppies I recently posted on Next Day Pets had been cut & pasted along with a photo of an unknown puppy and MY telephone number (missing one digit).
The price was ridiculously cheap (first warning bell) and the contact info used the telephone number minus one digit so readers could not call make telephone contact(second warning bell) however there was an e-mail address (not mine).
My caller had been smart enough to use a search engine to find out what state the phone number was from and then put in words (bulldog, puppies, Oklahoma) and the part of my number he had, until he turned up my web site which included the complete phone number. I'm glad he found me and glad I went to look at the ad.
I engaged in a series of e-mails with the scammer who could not/would not answer questions about pedigree, provide photos of parents or littermates, health or breeding program etc (third warning bell) and eventually got to their goal - send them the money for the puppy & shipping by Western Union (fourth REALLY LOUD warning bell) and they would supposedly send me the puppy.
If you are reading this and looking for a new pet/family member - please listen for the warning bells and be careful where you shop.
Bear with me now - climbing on the soap box:
A legitimate breeder will ask you lots of questions before turning one of their puppies over to you. They will want to make sure you are a good fit with the puppy. They will be able to answer ALL of your questions. If they can't do those things - WALK AWAY! Good breeders will also: provide documentation, photos, have a web site or blog with lots of info and consistent history, offer a contract & a health guarantee, offer to give you references from other clients (telephone not written), offer to give you their veterinarian's name and number etc. You will be able to contact the AKC and verify that the person's name, address and date of birth of the puppies are in AKC's system.
If you simply want a pet - look first at your local shelter. I swear shelter dogs know you have saved them and this shows in their personalities for the rest of their lives. I've had many and currently have three shelter dogs in addition to Bella (remember I live on a ranch- otherwise this many dogs would be over the top). If there isn't a good match for you at the shelter, then look for a breeder.
Stay away from people who breed many different breeds of dogs - I hate to be snobby but you want a breeder who is carefully breeding a breed or two that they love, not just whatever they think the latest trendy dog is. There are lots of people, like me, who breed dogs they love - they really understand the breed and can provide the info you need to decide if you and that breed are a good fit. People like us are easy to find - try web sites devoted to pets like pet finder, terrific pets and next day pets. Ask your veterinarian. Ask your friends. Find the local kennel club. Got to www.akc.org or the state or national association for the breed you are searching for.
It's really low that scammers are out there taking advantage of breeders by stealing text and photos and then scamming people looking for puppies. But guess what? YOU ARE TOTALLY IN CONTROL of their ability to get away with it. Be a smart shopper. Do your homework and don't let yourself be taken advantage of.
One last thing - remember when you get a puppy you will have a pet for the natural lifespan of that breed - that means several years, so be sure, be committed, and be careful.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen that ends the soap box sermon for the day ;-)
Erica & Susan