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Better Business Bureau: Puppy related scams

ST. LOUIS-How can you resist their faces? Puppies make most people smile and sometimes they can be hard to resist. Like everything else, people are turning to the internet to find a snugly pup but buying a dog online can carry a lot of risk.

Chris Thetford from the Better Business Bureau tells us the do’s and don’t of pet buying.

The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research online dog breeders before buying a pet. A St. Louis family recently lost $500 after they attempted to buy a Shih Tzu from what turned out to be a bogus website.

In 2017, consumers have filed more than 200 complaints with BBB against dog breeders in the United States and Canada. Many of those involve people paying for pets they never receive. In addition to having the victim pay for pets that don`t exist, the perpetrators also ask for large amounts of money for shipping costs.

The St. Louis mother, a 47-year-old who said she is disabled, told BBB she began her search for a Shih Tzu on April 21 and made contact with someone operating shihtzupuppieshome.com, which claimed to be based in Austin, Texas. The woman told BBB she had picked a dog named ‘Scott.’ She said the website charged her $350 to adopt the dog and $150 for shipping. She was asked to pay through Western Union, which she did immediately after speaking to someone representing the website.

The woman told BBB someone with the business contacted her the next day and told her that the dog would need to be shipped in a special crate through a company called Instant Pet Carriers. She told BBB she was going to be charged an additional $400 for shipping.

The woman told BBB the company cut off communication with her after she told them she couldn`t afford the extra shipping costs.
A search of web domain registry records found shihtzupuppieshome.com was registered on website for Instant Pet Carriers – instantpetcarriers.us – was registered on Feb. 18 from Cameroon, Central Africa.

While acting as a potential customer, BBB spoke with a man who identified himself as Dr. James Ngeh and said he was the owner of shihtzupuppieshome.com. Ngeh said his company has been breeding dogs for eight years and was located in Austin, Texas. He said the company charges $510 for dogs to be delivered – $350 for the animal and a $160 delivery fee. Ngeh told BBB the delivery fee includes the services of a puppy nanny who is responsible for feeding the animal and delivering it to the consumer.
Ngeh told BBB consumers can come to his location and pick up the animals, but they would have to pay a $300 deposit. Ngeh told BBB all money needs to be paid up April 19 fromfront by using a money order.

Ngeh told BBB each puppy comes with a one-year contract that would guarantee the customer`s money back if the dog was not delivered or if they were not satisfied with the animal. Ngeh told BBB customers could also trade dogs if they didn`t like the first one they received.

When asked about why the St. Louis woman did not receive her dog from the company, Ngeh said a man who used to work for the company left without warning and was responsible for the dog not being delivered.

BBB attempted to reach Instant Pet Carriers were not successful. Canada, two days before the woman contacted the company.

The BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking for a breeder:

• Research any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company`s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
• If possible, try to pick up the puppy in person. Puppy scams depend on buyers trusting that the animals will be delivered to them.
• Be careful about buying a puppy from anyone you don`t know, and be especially skeptical if the price is much lower than normal.
• Avoid wiring money. Instead pay by credit card in case you need to challenge the
purchase later.
• Research adoption requirements in your area. Get a good grasp on what fees, permits and licenses are required by your local government and know whether they should be collected by the seller or government.
• Consider getting a rescue dog if having a purebred dog is not a priority. Generally, rescues are less expensive than purebred pets and often have fewer health problems.