BBB warns residents about online puppy scam

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Thanks to the internet, people are being scammed right and left. And it's becoming harder and harder to decipher what's real and what's bogus. For countless internet scammers, nothing is off limits, not even the adorable faces of puppies or kittens.

Every year, Americans spend top dollar for pure-bred animals ordered online from what they think are reputable breeders. But it's the dollar signs that have given life to a puppy scam that's hooked a few Acadiana locals. Earlier this month, one woman thought she was welcoming a new puppy, all the way from Europe. Hundreds of dollars later, she found out the hard way.

“The crook strung them along all the way to saying the pet was at the Lafayette airport and all they had to do was pay a release fee to get the pet,” said Sharane Gott with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana. “Now, there was no pet there.”

Gott says it starts with what seems like a good deal, then the fees keep racking up. Patty Meehan with FLASH (Friends of Lafayette Animal Shelter) says you don't have to look far for pure-breeds.

“Statistics show 30-40% of animals in our shelters are purebred animals,” said Meehan. “And that applies to cats and dogs.”

And with pure-breds, Meehan says buyer beware.

“There's a lot of over-breeding going on in this country, to the point where the animals that are being bred are not even healthy,” said Meehan.

And just because a breeder says an animal comes with paperwork doesn't mean the situation has been checked out. Sure, it may sound good, but it's really not a guarantee of health or temperament. Paperwork from associations like the American Kennel Club just means pedigree.

“Pretty much, if you can pay the fee, you can be an AKC breeder. There's no oversight,” said Meehan.

So how do you spot a reputable breeder? Meehan says among a number of things, professionals usually only produce two litters per year, research customer's background and help with vaccination and spaying/neutering.

“No quality breeder is going to ship an animal to that purchaser, site unseen,” said Meehan. “Right there, that would be a red flag.”

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