JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - You may have seen the pictures online: adorable puppies up for adoption. Some are even free.
But some sellers of those precious pups can be real dogs.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a consumer alert Wednesday warning Arkansans when purchasing a new puppy.
She says often breeders will have photos of adorable puppies, guaranteed to be up-to-date on all vaccinations, on their websites.
Despite the sites featuring glowing testimonials from previous customers, Rutledge said consumers should use caution.
She said they could be scam artists targeting families by advertising puppies at a price lower than other breeders or even offering the dog for free if the buyer pays to ship.
While it may seem like a good deal, the AG said many times families never receive the pet and the fraudsters get away with the money.
"When a family decides to add a furry member to their household, there are a number of considerations," Rutledge said. "This includes whether to adopt or purchase a pet and where to find a pet for their home. Unfortunately, con artists have found a way to prey on these kindhearted, would-be pet owners."
She offers the following tips for anyone looking to buy a pet:
- Visit the breeder or rescue group offering the puppy. Responsible individuals and organizations will allow potential customers to tour their facility.
- Search the organization’s website for warning signs that it may be a scam. Fake breeder websites can often look real because they steal content from legitimate rescue sites. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet.
- Arrange to pick up the puppy from a kennel instead of meeting the breeder at a potentially unsafe location. Do not rely on the breeder to ship the animal, and never pay for shipping.
- Check the organization’s references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the breeder’s veterinarian.
- Pay for the puppy with a check or credit card. If a breeder pressures for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment, it is probably a scam
Rutledge encourages Arkansans to do their research regarding adopting and purchasing pets.
If you have questions about a potential pet shipper, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association provides a list of trusted shippers across the world.
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