service dog scams

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If you’re really set on a specific breed or don’t have a shelter near you, buying a puppy online seems like one of your best options.  Be cautious! You can get a great pup online if you do some homework and keep the following tips in mind so you don’t get taken advantage of:


  • Trust your gut: If the seller is being fishy, move on, no matter how good the price is. If something seems too good to be true, it is.
  • Asking for payment by money order or wire transfer: Scammers prefer you to pay them with these methods because they can get the money before you realize you’ve been tricked. Money orders and wire transfers also usually offer little protection to the sender and are hard to trace. Once you send the money, it is gone.


  • Suspiciously low prices: Don’t let a discounted price lure you in. If you’re buying a purebred dog, do some research so you know the price range you can expect to pay.
  • Refusing to let you meet the puppy before buying: A normal seller is okay with you coming to meet the puppy. If the online seller won’t let you meet your puppy prospect, a red flag should pop up.
  • Aggressive messages or threats: If you start to get suspicious and push the seller or are hesitant about closing the deal, they may get aggressive or threaten you in order to pressure you to pay.
  • Odd results when you research the breeder online: Scammers might use a fake breeder name, or steal a name and puppy photos from a legit breeder. Be sure to do a little homework using Google, Better Business Bureau, or Yelp.  If things don’t look right, move on to another seller.

With the recent puppy scams, sellers have targeted people who want to buy specific breeds. While owning a certain breed has its perks, rescuing a puppy from a shelter also has its perks. Think about what it is about a certain breed that you like—maybe they’re low energy or are good with kids—and ask the shelter staff to help you find a dog with those traits.