This is one of the saddest situations in which you can find yourself. The entire family is ready and excited to meet their new furry family member. Beds have been bought, food has been researched, and a name chosen. The big day has arrived … but sadly, the puppy never arrives as planned. If you have sent money, then it is a double whammy!

We are hearing more and more stories of families who have been scammed when trying to purchase a puppy. Scammers are getting more sophisticated and becoming more believable. How can we know the difference between a legitimate puppy and one that is pure fiction? Below, are two real events that highlight some of the scammer’s methods.

Jane* was so happy she found a Frenchie online. All the breeders she had spoken to had ridiculously long waiting lists. She came across a site that advertised the cutest puppies and the price was unbelievably good. When she called, miracle of miracles, they had a puppy available, because someone had just pulled out. The puppy was 8 weeks old and all she had to do was send the money and they would deliver the pup to her door. Everyone in the family was ecstatic. They would be getting a puppy. When the day arrived, though, no puppy turned up. The phone number was discontinued, and no one answered messages on the puppies for sale site.

Jane realised that she had been scammed. She started to look at the website and noticed links not working and the pictures, when googled, were copied from pictures posted internationally. The family was devastated. Jane realized there had been signs but, in her excitement, she had fobbed them off.

Jane’s story is all too familiar. Trust your instincts. Organise a visit or ask for a real time video call, so you can meet the mom and her pups. A good breeder or foster home will normally have a regularly updated WhatsApp group for the litter and will be happy for you to visit.

Mike* saw a picture of a puppy on gumtree, with a horrendous back story. The pup and his mom had been thrown over a wall into a field. The mom had been rehomed and now they needed a home for the little boy. Mike was immediately drawn in and called to arrange a meeting. Excuses were given about not meeting at the seller’s house, she arranged a pickup point at a service station in a nearby town. When Mike met the person, he became concerned, as the story had changed about the background of the puppy. In the end he took the puppy, but with his insticts on high alert, after some research it turned out that the puppy had been stolen. Mike lost the money he had paid for the pup and sadly also the puppy. He did the honorable thing and returned the puppy to his rightful parent.

There are many devastating stories of unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of caring families. Here are a few pointers that should be in place and, if not, should set off loud warning bells:

  • A good shelter or breeder will normally have a website or Facebook page.
  • The person or organisation with the puppy should want to meet you and find out about you as a family.
  • The person or organisation with the puppy should be willing to video call real time, with themselves and the puppies.
  • The person or organisation with the puppy should have verifiable references on request.
  • The person or organisation with the puppy should be happy to answer all your questions satisfactorily.
  • You should be able to meet the mom and other litter mates.
  • The place the puppies are living should be clean and the pups running around looking healthy.
  • Puppies should have been vet checked, been vaccinated at minimum and you should get a vet card.
  • If you have any doubts, then trust your instincts and do not continue.
  • There is an article on our webpage detailing how to choose a responsible breeder or rescue shelter.

There are plenty of puppies needing homes from reputable shelters and breeders. Ask around in the community for recommendations. Going on a list is not such a bad thing, it gives you time to prepare and get ready to welcome a new family member, who will be with you for the next 15 years or so.

Your puppy is waiting for you and, when the time is right, everything will slot into place. The process of getting your puppy should be exciting, informational and joyous. Anything else is not worth settling for.


*names have been changed to protect their identity