What’s not to love about puppies? They are playful, affectionate and cute. The fact that puppies are so cute is also the reason people sometimes buy them on short notice or on a whim. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) encourages consumers to treat this decision as they would any major purchase and offers tips to find the right pet and avoid getting scammed.
“The addition of a pet can bring a lot of joy to an individual or a family,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “However, failure to do preliminary research and take necessary precautions can lead to heartache and the loss of significant amounts of money.”
There are many factors to consider when trying to decide if the time is right to buy a new puppy. These include the size of your living arrangements, costs such as grooming and pet food – and regular trips to the veterinarian. It’s also a good idea to evaluate your lifestyle and make sure you are at a point in your life where buying a puppy is practical.
Another priority should be supporting breeders and businesses that meet standards and maintain proper living conditions for their animals. In Minnesota, a law went into effect in 2014 implementing registration and licensing requirements for commercial breeders. Be sure you’re clear on the history of your puppy and the establishment you’re purchasing from.
Consumers should also research breeders and pet stores at bbb.org. In Minnesota, commercial breeders need to be licensed. Choose a breeder who is experienced with the breed of dog you are seeking. Also, be sure you have a written contract with conditions and guarantees spelled out. Keep in mind that scammers often advertise puppies online and in newspaper classifieds at very low or special rates and then ask people to wire payment. If you do this, you will very likely be out any money you send and you will not receive your pet. Never wire money to someone you haven’t met in person.
In addition to those basic tips, BBB has analyzed consumer complaint trends and gathered the following information to help eager pet enthusiasts make informed decisions when purchasing a puppy:
- Think things through. Ask yourself if you are ready to support a dog for the next 10-15 years of its life. Consider your financial outlook, your living arrangements and the time commitment involved before making a decision.
- Check with BBB. Always research a pet store or a breeder’s background at org. File a complaint if any problems arise.
- Find the breed that’s right for you. Some breeds are better with children than others and some are more social. Decide which attributes you’re seeking and go from there.
- Consider adoption. Visit a local shelter or rescue agency and inquire about available dogs. Both offer a variety of different breeds and personalities to choose from.
- Know your rights under the Pet Lemon Law (for Minnesota consumers) Pet consumers have protections under Minnesota state law. North Dakota does not have statewide laws in place. Instead, there are rules specific to each town.
- In Minnesota, a purchaser has ten days to make claims about health problems and one year for congenital or hereditary defects or misrepresentation of breed. Under the Pet Lemon Law, “Common remedies include replacement of the animal, a refund of the purchase price, and/or reimbursement of veterinary expenses, generally up to the purchase price of the animal.”
Buying a puppy can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can be a fairly involved process. By taking your time and considering all the angles, you’ll improve your chances of finding the pet that’s right for you.
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, Toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.