It seems the last year has sent everyone looking for available puppies. It also seems to have set the SCAMMERS into full-gear. Read on for how NOT to get scammed. This is an important decision and an investment of time, money and emotion. It’s not hard to spot a scam if you know what you are looking for. Don’t be fooled!
Above is a picture of one of Molly’s pups from her very first litter. The darker coloring on the nose, ears and back with the creaminess on the rest of them make these labs so beautiful and so striking. We are so proud of the pups we’ve produced! (Does your breeder have photos of previous litters? If not, it MAY BE a warning sign.)
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With Labrador retrievers being America’s favorite dog, scammers are on high alert for how to take advantage of loving families.
But how do you find the right breeder? With so many scams out there, how can you find a breeder you can trust? I’ve read a few of the lists online lately, and I have to say, some of the recommendations that people make for “vetting” your breeder are not great.
First, let’s learn how to spot a true SCAM.
Scammers don’t actually have any puppies to sell.
This means that they have to find other breeder’s photos to use. Look for watermarks, changes of scenery, updated photos, etc. Watermarks can be removed, of course, but this is usually too much work for the average scammer.
When you ask for info about the puppy, see if you feel comfortable with their knowledge.
IMPORTANT: Ask for videos, to FaceTime/Zoom, etc. Many breeders, myself included, do not allow visits in person (or do so very rarely). I have seen post after post saying that breeders who do not allow visitation are scammers. NOT TRUE. There are a variety of reasons I don’t allow in-person visits, the greatest of which is the safety of our moms and pups. I am always able to FaceTime or Zoom with you – grab a video – a few extra pictures – these things are not difficult for the true breeder.
Scammers advertise the price at far less than reputable breeders
I know the price of an available puppy these days can prohibitive. Scammers will take advantage of that fact by advertising a “steal of a deal” and low deposit amounts. After all, they don’t want to take enough of your money that you’re willing to hire a lawyer to get it back. Just a few hundred bucks from a few different folks is all they are after.
The price of a pure-bred English Labrador in the United States is somewhere in the $2000-3500 range. If you see English Labrador Puppies listed as available for $1500, be wary. I’m not saying it never happens; I’m saying do your research, be sure you feel comfortable with the breeder’s knowledge and expertise, watch for testing and lineage.
A LIFE-LONG PET IS NOT THE TIME TO CUT CORNERS
Scammers will often advertise a health guarantee, but they don’t actually have one.
Ask them to send you the file of the Health Guarantee for your review. Most breeders will do this willingly and without a fight. But of course, an entire contract takes lots of time and effort to write up. A scammer is not going to have that info handy.
Scammers have a very limited online presence
Again, building and maintaining a website and social media pages takes time, money and know-how. Scammers are looking for an easy-buck, preying on the knowledge that people are desperate to find an available puppy. Your breeder’s website should be relatively detailed, have plenty of pictures and contact info, and you should see at least some interaction on social media. Keep in mind, of course, that inquiries have shot through the roof and most reputable breeders are having a tough time keeping up with emails and comments. Have some grace; they’ll get back to you.
Scammers push for small amounts of money right away, for weird services
I have seen screenshots of emails where a scammer was requesting $250 be sent “right away” for “gas money” to transport the puppy to a visitation location. THIS IS SO SKETCHY. I hope that this would be a “red flag” for most of you, but please keep a lookout.
I understand the difficulty everyone is having, and I definitely have felt the pressure of a skeptical family “grilling me” for info. Here are some things that I do NOT feel are indicative of “scammers”:
They don’t allow in-person visits
As mentioned above, I do not allow in-person visits to my program, for more than a few reasons but mainly because I do not have a set-up that allows for dozens of families to come without putting my mamas and puppies at risk. I lost almost an entire litter at the beginning of 2021 because of a virus. It was a crushing and exhausting two weeks full of heartbreak. I promised myself I would never again put my moms at risk from unnecessary visits.
They don’t give you their address right away
Another reason is, our program is based out of our home. My children sleep here. I am certain if you are looking for available puppies online you’ve read countless horror stories about scam breeders. Have you read any about scam buyers? It’s happening. A lot.
I have read about breeders welcoming visitors who hadn’t yet made a deposit, only to return home a few days later to find their home broken into and puppies stolen. People are SO DESPERATE for their new best friend that untoward people are taking advantage. I simply cannot risk such a thing.
I provide my home address once 6 week selections have been made and we are arranging for our 8 week pickup.
Please understand my desire to keep my family (including my labrador family) safe. I am not trying to be evasive. Feel free to ask any questions you have about this.
Paperwork is running behind
The AKC has been notoriously slow this past year and a half with limited AKC hours. It has been a frustrating experience for everyone, including the immensely helpful folks at AKC. They are catching up now (yay!!) but don’t be put off by the delay.
Is there anything you wish I would have covered? Let me know what other questions you have! I don’t want to see anyone get scammed, ever. Especially while looking for the beloved Labrador puppy.
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