Puppy Scams (NBC Today show report)

  • Puppy Scams

    Just when you thought you could spot a scam coming from overseas, the con artists got more creative. I’ve told you about those phony lottery scams that come in the mail, originating from Nigeria, and bogus mortgage money also coming from faraway places. Well, get ready for this next one.

    The con artists have gone to the dogs. Yes, folks, they are using those cuddly little creatures to lure unsuspecting dog lovers to send money. This scam is not a mailer, but an online job. Breeders place a listing on the Internet. You scan the ads for breeders and come across one that looks appealing. You call the number, which you think is based in the U.S. You find that you can get one of the hottest breeds these days, a bulldog, for less than half of what the other breeders charge.

    Here’s the catch: The so-called breeder e-mails you and tells you that you will receive your pooch at the closest airport to you. You will need to fill out your personal information and send a money order (they don’t accept credit cards) and, voila, the next day your pet will arrive.

    I wondered how someone could be enticed to send money to an unknown pet owner, so I called a number I was referred to by the Internet. I spoke with a man who claimed he was a pastor in Nigeria. He told me he wanted to find a good home for his bulldog puppy. He sent me an e-mail written with poor grammar and asked me to fill it out and send $550. When I finally pressed him and revealed I was calling from NBC’s Today Show, he hung up on me. Big shock!

    Unfortunately, there are hundreds of people who did send money to these bogus breeders and never received their pup. The American Kennel Club and the Better Business Bureau are trying to get the word out to potential buyers. A reputable breeder will want to have a long standing relationship with a potential buyer and price is not the first order of business. If a price for a pure-bred dog sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Make sure you do some research before purchasing a dog from a breeder:

    • Ask for references
    • Find out how long they have been in business
    • If you can, visit the breeder to see which dog you will be receiving
    • Make sure you can call the breeder with questions on raising your dog
    • Get the paperwork to prove your dog is purebred

    The last thing you want to do is leave your family disappointed when their puppy never arrives.

  • I did hear about one of these Nigerian scams involving a yorkshire terrier.

  • This post is deleted!

  • @raulp said in Puppy Scams (NBC Today show report):

    Do you know about this breeder? Should I be concerned? How do you confirm his validity?

    This is a scam... these pictures are stolen from responsible breeder websites. One big clue is the tags on some of the pups... They are not registered and I contacted the person and was told that he is not a breeder, just a "pet owner"... no pedigree information and no health information... As noted by Bellabasenjis... do your homework.... a puppy is for life

  • @tanza thanks for that fast response!
    I was just sms communicating with them and when asked about the papers they said that because other prospective clients used them for fraudulent activities they now send the papers along with the puppy.
    But that we do sign a contract before sending the dog.
    How do you suggest for me in this case to ask them to proceed?

    Send the puppy and pay later?
    Or what other homework can we do if they won't
    send the documents because of scamers using the papers for other activities as they say?


  • @raulp said in Puppy Scams (NBC Today show report):

    How do you suggest for me in this case to ask them to proceed?

    Out of curiosity... I did a google search for their contact phone (872.400.5607) and at the top of the list is a snippit of a yelp.com review.

    Take a look:

    Do you see the part referring to the "FBI Internet Crimes Division"? That sends up red flares all over the place.

    Being wary might not be enough. Ask about doing an "in person" exchange. Take the money with you and don't give it up until you are physically engaging with the puppy. Take a picture of the serial numbers on the money with your cell phone. If they try to "take the money and run", you can prove that the cash in their possession is yours.

    Better yet, get a puppy from someone else!

  • @elbrant Thank you!
    Yes... I've been contacting so many breeders. All I could find from my state and others.
    Imagine I'm jn Florida and that one that may be a scam are from California supposedly.

    But none have responded me of any availability and we've been searching for months...

    I didn't thought it would be so difficult.

  • @raulp Part of the problem is that it's the wrong time of year. What you should be looking for is a reputable breeder in your area, or at least within a reasonable distance. Basenji's typically have pups once a year, usually around the Holiday season, which means puppies are ready to go to new homes around February/March/April.

    Refocus your search on finding someone who breeds or rescues Basenji's. Local Kennel Clubs, Dog shows, Veterinarians... think outside the box. Once you find a breeder, you can get more information. Find out if they will they be breeding this year. Maybe they have an adult dog that needs a new home. Ask every question on @tanza's list (above) and any others you may have jotted down.

    Basenji puppies are not as plentiful as other breeds. It may take several months or longer for you to reach your goal. But they are worth the wait!

  • @raulp - Go to a reputable breeder, this is not one, the pictures they are showing are NOT of their puppies, they are stolen pictures of other breeders puppies from the internet. Unless they supply you with proof of pedigree and papers (they can send you copies) and proof of health testing and you check out those test results at www.ofa.org run fast the other way. In fact I would advise you do not engage this scammer but find a responsible breeder. You can search for breeders by state at www.basenji.org. Note that most all responsible breeders have reservation lists and by this time of year most are full. Almost all Basenjis are born Nov,Dec,Jan time as Basenji only come in season once a year and all about the same time. If you don't get a response via email, call them on the phone.

  • Hi!
    Thanks for all the data.
    With my wife we are so looking forward to have a basenji with us.
    I've been lookijg for all the breeders I can. No one has an available puppy nor one available for us in their next litter.
    Searched for breeders within the country.. also wrote to Canadian breeders from websites but still nothing.
    Its discouraging... how can it be so hard...

    Some ask for deposits for litters for years to come... but how can you half pay for a dog in years to come?
    Their dogs may die or have any tipe of accident. You can find before those litters in years to come another breeder that isn't so demanded... You would be locking yourself without being able to search for another breeders litter. And still what I've received is all negative responses... nothing.

    Is it worth to continue writing to all the breeders we find until I get one puppy for our new family as we would love to?

    Should we search for breeders in other continents?
    I'm running out of ideas 😞

  • @raulp said in Puppy Scams (NBC Today show report):

    how can it be so hard...

    Do you have to have a puppy right now?

    I keep reading your posts that you don't know where to look and, while I can appreciate that you are frustrated, I'm not sure that you understand that Basenji's are born between November and January. Which means that puppies are not ready to go to homes until the middle of January thru March. It doesn't matter how hard you look, or how badly you want one... Basenji's puppies are usually born in the winter months.

    Have you considered getting a Basenji that's "not a puppy"? Sometimes breeders have adult dogs that need new homes. And sometimes dogs need new owners. If that might work for you, then you could look into rescue groups. I know there is one in Florida. I think BRAT (Basenji Rescue and Transport) has foster homes in Florida as well. And any of those breeders you've been in contact with might have an adult that needs to be placed in a home.

    It could take a year or more before you find a puppy. Use the time between now and finding one by reading and learning as much as you can about the breed.

  • @raulp
    Here's a rather long but thorough article on why it is a challenge to find available B. puppies. Just as importantly, on being aware of unethical/irresponsible breeders taking advantage of a buyer's frustration or desperation.
    Good luck and also, what Elbrant wrote. 👍



    This is a global post because myself, and most other basenji breeders I know, are receiving exponentially more inquires for puppies than ever before.

    The window to bring a puppy home is relatively small for basenjis as most puppies go home between February and April each year. We all understand that lots of people are home right now and the prospect of bringing a puppy home is joyful and exciting, and well timed since everyone is home.

    However, keep in mind most basenjis come into heat only once a year, which means puppies are born only once per year. The majority of basenjis have puppies in the fall or early winter (November to January), with pups leaving 8-12 weeks after they’re born, which is February-April usually. Many times, the only way to guarantee a puppy from a responsible breeder is contacting them ahead of time and getting on a wait list, as by the time they’re born, a majority are already reserved. It's never too early to work with a breeder and get on their waiting list!

    There are a very small handful that have spring seasons, but many don’t conceive in the spring even if they come into season, and if you’re holding out hope for the 5%, you better already be talking to a breeder, because those puppies are likely already reserved by the time they’re born too.

    Sometimes unethical breeders will have puppies long after ethical breeders have placed theirs. When you breed 30+ puppies in one season, it’s not unusual to have left overs...however if you’re excited by the chance of getting a basenji, even from an unethical source, you don’t really love basenjis. Unethical breeders don’t really care about the basenji either, they care about making puppies which equals a profit and they don’t health test as they should either, although they will quickly lie to you and tell you that all the health testing is done! They don’t care about the dogs in their care, why would they care about lying to potential buyers? I’m not saying all unethical breeders can’t “love their dogs” or come off as really nice and sweet people...a mean sales person wouldn’t sell much merchandise, so of course they have got to be nice people who sound perfect...but that’s where education and verification come into play. My grandmother was a wonderful person who loved everyone, but if she decided one day to breed dogs just to produce puppies because she likes making people happy with puppies, she would have been an unethical breeder. Ethical breeding focuses on preserving and bettering the breed for generations to come, it involves temperament selection, structure selection, and health testing to produce the best possible puppies.

    The best starting place for finding good and ethical breeders is the national breed club website, the Basenji Club of America (BCOA). The BCOA works very closely with the AKC and OFA to set recommendations for standards and health testing of Basenjis used for breeding. These recommendations ensure genetic issues don’t plague the breed and that puppies are not produced who will be afflicted with genetic disorders and diseases. You can find a breeder directory here, broken up by state: https://www.basenji.org/in…/about-basenjis/breeder-directory

    The BCOA also has a breeder liaison, Denise Vertrees, who helps people locate breeders if they're not sure where to start. Not all breeders are listed in the directory as some don’t breed every year, so emailing Denise may give you more results than the directory. Her email is bridenbasenjis@gmail.com

    It should be noted that even though breeders may be listed through the BCOA, there are NO set requirements for BCOA breeders or ANY breeders in the USA, only recommendations, so each breeder is different in their standards and practices. EVERY breeder should be vetted thoroughly and all claims should be verified for accuracy as it’s quite easy for a charming sales person to lie to the unsuspecting public. Bottom line, if you don’t feel comfortable with the breeders practices, answers to questions, or communication, don’t buy from them!

    Pedigrees can be verified on the Zande pedigree database
    and health results can be verified on the OFA website.
    Any breeder who will not give you information to research on the pedigree database or OFA’s website is a potential red flag. Reputable breeders often pride themselves on transparency in their breeding practices and will readily share pertinent information with potential buyers.

    A basenji puppy from a responsible breeder will usually cost between $1500–$2500 depending on the area and location. Puppy mills and unethical breeders can often run the same amount, so price should never be a deciding factor! One of the biggest myths about getting a puppy is that you don't need to go to a responsible breeder if you just want a pet. Most breeders who participate in dog shows and whose puppies have champions in their pedigrees keep just one or two of the best puppies from a litter for show. All the rest go straight to pet homes. (It's also worth mentioning that the vast majority of "show dogs" are pets on their days off, too. 😊) Contrary to popular belief, the cost of a responsibly bred puppy isn't due to its fancy pedigree or show potential, but the extensive health-testing, socialization, and care that it and its parents have received.

    Although it can seem like you're getting a "bargain" from an irresponsible breeder, a lot of times you're being charged the same--or more!--than you would pay for a responsibly bred puppy. Would you rather pay $1500–$2500 for a puppy whose parents are health-tested for all known genetic diseases and have been selected for their good temperaments? A puppy who is extensively socialized with people and children? Who has received quality nutrition and veterinary care? Or would you rather pay a little less (or sometimes even the same amount) for a puppy who might not have any of these, taking into consideration that doing the health tests yourself, treating serious health conditions, and / or bringing in a trainer to help with behavioral problems can quickly cost you hundreds of additional dollars? A puppy mill or backyard breeder's #1 goal is usually to make money. In contrast, a responsible breeder is lucky to break even on a litter of puppies and sometimes even loses money. Additionally, a responsible breeder will be there to give advice and support for your basenji's entire life. In the long run, it's cheaper, easier, and safer to get a puppy from a responsible breeder.

    Make sure any breeder you're considering getting a puppy from does not sell puppies before they are 8–12 weeks old. A puppy separated from its mom and littermates too early can have serious behavioral problems as it grows up. It is crucial that your puppy stay with its mother and littermate for at least 8 weeks so that it learns crucial skills like bite inhibition and appropriate play behavior. A 2011 study comparing adult dogs that were adopted ‪at 4 to 5‬ weeks of age vs. 8 weeks found that those adopted before 8 weeks had much greater odds of "displaying destructiveness, excessive barking, fearfulness on walks, reactivity to noises, toy possessiveness, food possessiveness and attention-seeking." An irresponsible breeder might try to convince you that the puppy will be fine it it goes to you before 8 weeks, that you need to take it home early so it can bond better with you, but this simply is not backed up by science. In reality, the less time an irresponsible breeder keeps a puppy around, the less they will have to pay in food, vet care, and supplies and the less time they will have to spend taking care of that puppy.

    It is also very important to find a breeder who health tests. There are some significant health concerns associated with basenjis, just like with any breed. The BCOA recommends that any basenji being used for breeding be tested for Fanconi syndrome, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and autoimmune thyroiditis, have an eye exam from a canine ophthalmologist and an X-ray screening for hip dysplasia.

    If you don’t care about health testing, socialization, and the care of the parents...do you really love basenjis? These things help preserve the breed for many generations instead of producing poor health and bad temperaments. Most older breed enthusiasts can tell you of HORRIBLE temperaments that were well known years ago and how the breed as a whole has strived to produce better temperaments or how devastating illness broke the hearts of tons of owners until health testing became available.

    So find a breeder you like, that you agree with their ethics and practices, that you can communicate with, and that will be available for the life of your puppy to help guide and answer any questions you may have. Adding a puppy should never be an impulse decision, and adding a purebred puppy should ALWAYS be from an ethical source.

    Again, if you do not care about health testing and genetics, you are better off with a mixed breed from a shelter or rescue, than buying from an unethical breeder. Never believe you are “rescuing” from unethical breeders as all they will see is profit and continued demand for their product, which will condemn the breeding dogs left behind when you take your puppy home.

    Reputable and ethical basenji rescues include BRAT and Camp Basenji. If wanting to go the adoption route over purchasing route, it’s recommended to have your application on file, and your home visit completed (as required) BEFORE a dog you’re interested in comes available. This will help ensure you’re at the top of the list for potential adopters because your requirements are already completed.

    There is a Facebook group for prospective owners to educate themselves on breeders and the buying process, this group includes and extensive list of potential “red flag” breeders who may not fall into the “ethical” breeder criteria. If you want to join the group, search “Basenji puppies get educated” and be sure to answer all the questions.

    It should also be noted that Pet Stores are 100% sourced from puppy mills unless required to only sell shelter animals, in which case, you won’t find purebreds readily available. Any pet store who tells you the puppies are sourced from ethical breeders is 100% lying to you, don’t get taken advantage of by a well rehearsed speech.

    In conclusion, by all means contact breeders or rescues, but know that ownership can be a lengthy process, and instant gratification generally has a poor ending when it comes to animal ownership. Patience and planning will ensure you and your future basenji are set up for success!

    Now stay safe and healthy out there!! "

  • @raulp - Basenji litters are not large, typically 4 to 6 puppies and as noted Basenji pups are only born once a year. You should try calling them instead of writing them. Please also see the update posted under
    You can search for breeders by state at www.basenji.org

  • @helle-devi said in Puppy Scams (NBC Today show report):

    Pedigrees can be verified on the Zande pedigree database

    And in a kind of negative way, if the parents are NOT listed on my web pedigree database, it is entirely possible that the breeder is a puppy-farmer and therefore well nigh impossible for me to obtain data from. I would be suspicious.

    There are a few who health test breeding stock - these I get from OFA. But often only one dog is tested / registered from a litter of 6. You can get an idea of the number in a litter from the last two digits on a registration. If, for example, the Mom's reg# ends in /05, and she apparently has no siblings. . . alarm bells might sound too. She does have at least 4 brothers and sisters - so why are they not listed ?

    I do spend hours each week, checking for siblings on the AKC website once I get a registration, date of birth and Mom.

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