Puppy scams cost Canadians thousands. Here's how to avoid being ripped off

·2 min read
March 23, 2021, is National Puppy Day. The Better Business Bureau says many Canadians lose a lot of money to puppy scams every year.  (Carolyn Kaster/AP - image credit)
March 23, 2021, is National Puppy Day. The Better Business Bureau says many Canadians lose a lot of money to puppy scams every year. (Carolyn Kaster/AP - image credit)

Puppy scams have cost Canadians more than $105,000 since January 2020, according to the Better Business Bureau.

To help mark National Puppy Day on Tuesday, the non-profit group put together a list of tips to help people avoid getting taken in by scammers as they shop for a new dog.

Mary O'Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB for southern Alberta and B.C.'s East Kootenay region, says consumers need to be especially diligent if they are trying to purchase a puppy online.

"Ask for references from other satisfied customers, set up a live video call to meet the breeder and the puppy, and ask for detailed information about the dog and its health," she said in a release.

"Take the necessary steps to ensure the breeder is legitimate and ethical. Don't become the victim of a scammer."

The Better Business Bureau says Canadians have reported losses totalling more than $105,000 on its BBB Scam Tracker due to puppy scams since the start of last year.

Some things to look out for:

  • Legitimate breeders normally have a permanent website, not just a Facebook page.

  • Breeder websites normally list and show individual breeding dogs — not just pictures of cute puppies.

  • Look for show titles, health clearances and highlights of a breeding program.

  • If a dog is advertised as "purebred" in Canada, it must be registered by the breeder, not the owner, with the Canadian Kennel Club.

  • Be wary if you're asked to pay before you see the animal in person. Pre-paid shipping often results in a ripoff. It's best to shop where you can visit the breeder or the place of the dog's birth.

  • The puppy should come with a veterinarian health check and its first shots and be eight weeks old so that it's properly weaned.

  • Ask for references and follow up with them.

  • Avoid third-party transportation arrangements. It's better to choose a breeder who lives close enough for you to travel to.