The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is warning consumers about sham dog breeding websites that, according to a BBB spokesman, have been cropping up more and more frequently.
The easily created websites usually offer seemingly legitimate services and low prices only to renege on delivery of the pet after receiving the buyer’s money or hitting the buyer with unexpected costs when it comes time to deliver the pet, according to the BBB’s Dan Hendrickson.
“These websites are easy to throw up. It doesn’t take a lot of know-how,” Hendrickson said. “All they need to do is come up with a hook to get consumers in the digital door.”
The BBB has cited three local breeders after complaints alleged that these breeders had not made good on the delivery of the dogs to buyers. Happy Husky and Maliz French Bulldogs (also known as Manuh French Bulldogs) were two of those cited; both operations are listed with the same Humboldt Avenue N. address. St. Paul breeder Fenando Pomeranians was also cited.
Hendrickson said the BBB is also looking into another breeding site.
“Unfortunately, not everyone checks with us before they take the plunge with these entities,” Hendrickson said, adding that he was hesitant to call them companies.
Although BBB accreditation is a good measure for a company’s reputation and ethics, many legitimate businesses may not be BBB-accredited. Accreditation is something individual companies must apply for, and not all companies do so.
The breeders also use similar phrases to draw people into their business. “Quality isn’t expensive, it’s priceless!” is the line with which Happy Husky greets visitors to its website. “Did you know that quality is priceless?” Fenando Pomeranians’ site asks.
Hendrickson said that these offers are too good to be true and that they should be taken as a warning sign that the breeder may not be a legitimate operation.
Other red flags for illegitimate breeders include hidden fees when it comes time to pick up the pet, wire transfer payment methods, e-mail-only contact information and no clear indication as to who is behind the business, he said.
Elizabeth Hustad is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.