Check the list twice before buying a puppy over the holidays

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What could be more charming than surprising the kids with a puppy under the Christmas tree? Not so fast! Think twice before investing in and giving a puppy as a present this holiday season.

With emotions high and priorities stretched, giving a puppy as a present during the holidays can be stressful for both you and the new pet.

Puppies are an exciting new addition to any family, but many animal experts recommend against introducing a new pet, especially a young one, into the family during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

If you have your heart set on surprising the family, give them a “gift voucher” for the dog and pick one out together after the holidays.

Regardless of when you buy or rescue your new dog, the Better Business Bureau and the American Kennel Club offer the following advice:

Don’t fall victim to a puppy scammer. Because of the emotional investment in buying a puppy, scammers are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Make sure to ask around for a breeder, rescue group or shelter referral. Always check out the business’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.

Never send money without first checking a breeder or shelter’s credentials. If you locate a puppy through a web site, do not send money without speaking to the breeder and checking references and credentials first. Ask if the breeder is a member of an American Kennel Club-affiliated club and contact the club to verify membership.

Don’t support puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not purchase a puppy from a web site. When you have a puppy shipped from another area, you don’t know how that puppy has been treated, how healthy or young it is, or whether or not the puppy exists at all.

Don’t be fooled by a well designed web site. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking but fraudulent website designed to lure the potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of scammers who offer to “re-home” their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees. If a free purebred puppy sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers will continually ask for more money for unexpected, and fraudulent, costs.

Reach Kelvin Collins, the president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc., at (800) 763-4222 or www.bbb.org.


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