Better Business Bureau warns of online puppy scam after North Idaho woman loses hundreds of dollars

It’s hard for Christine Fisher to hide of her love for Golden Retrievers.

“They are just very friendly dogs,” she said.

Her North Idaho home is filled with photos and trinkets of the breed, and the pitter patter of paws.

“Up to about four years ago, I had 4 at one time,” she added.

With her last two, Alfie and Katie, getting up there in age, she decided she wanted to add another to the mix. For decades Christine has rescued Golden Retrievers. She looked for months at local shelters and rescue centers but could not find one. So she decided to try and find a puppy.

“I started checking prices around here and then I decided to go online. Probably the biggest mistake that I did,” she explained.

Christine fell in love with Elsa on a now defunct website called King Retrievers, a breeding business claiming to be located in Arkansas.

She said of the business profile, “it was like a perfect little mom and pop thing, a business raising dogs and that’s kind of what lured me to this.”

Nothing about them alarmed her. The area though far was known to have reputable breeders and she was asked thorough questions about how she’d care for the dog – normal procedure.

“What happened was then she didn’t go off the website,” Christine added.

After Christine made payment through Western Union. Communication with King Retrievers stopped.

“I used a different email address and I went through the whole thing, ‘I’m interested in the dog’ you know, and they go, “the dog is still available.'”I’m like, bingo!”

In hindsight, she says paying by Western Union should have been the first red flag. That’s why she’s speaking out.

“It was heartbreaking. You know, the money was bad. I lost $600. But it was more that I’d just lost a dog, now I decided I’d replace him and now it’s like almost another death.”

To avoid being scammed, the Better Business Bureau advises that you do your research beforehand. Know the average price of a dog from the breed you are looking to add to your family. If the price you are talking about it a lot lower, it’s probably too good to be true.

Search for reviews of the breeder. What are customers saying? Do they have a Better Business Bureau profile? Has anyone reviewed them there? A lot of breeders have a social media presence. See if they are active and what customers say there as well.

Lastly, ask for proof before you pay. If the breeder is local, set up a visit. Most breeders require this as they want to make sure their dog goes to a good home. If the seller is too far away, ask for new photos. Have the breeder take a photo with a piece of paper that has your name on it in front of the dog. A lot of scammers will just take photos from other websites and will give reasons as to why they can’t send new ones.

Christine’s story does have a happy ending though. Last month, she picked a new pup from a local breeder. His name is Shamus and he’s quite energetic!

“He was worth the wait. He’s sweet,” added Christine.

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