EL PASO — Think twice before giving a puppy as a present over the holidays, as recommended by the Better Business Bureau.
Many animal experts counsel potential pet owners to avoid introducing a new pet, especially a young one, into the family during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Anyone with their heart set on surprising a family with a dog should consider the family's needs and desires first. One alternative is to give a "pet voucher" for the dog, then pick one out together after the holidays. Regardless of when you buy or rescue your new dog, the BBB and the American Kennel Club offer the following advice:
· Don't fall victim to a puppy scammer. Scammers may make an emotional appeal to unsuspecting consumers, commonly through classified ads in the newspaper or on sites like Craigslist. A better way to find a good breeder is to ask friends for referrals or to look for a rescue group or animal shelter. Always check out the firm's BBB Business Review
· Never send money without first checking a breeder or shelter's credentials. If you locate a puppy through a website, 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 website. 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 website. 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, and you may never receive the puppy.