Goldendoodles, Maltipoos, Morkies – mixed dog breeds are hugely popular these days. But finding a local breeder can be challenging. That’s why some eager pet owners start looking online. But NBC4’s I-Team has a warning before you do.
Tracey Gilchrist was smitten with some Morkie puppies, a mix of Maltese and Yorkie, that she found online.
“This is exactly what I wanted,” she said.
Gilchrist found the dogs on a website called Charley Morkie Pups. The breeder offered to sell Gilchrist a pup named Nina for $700. So she sent him the money through Zelle. Days later, the breeder made Gilchrist another offer.
“‘We still have other pups available, and would you be interested in her sister, because they’re very close,'” she remembers the breeder saying. “Why wouldn’t I jump on the opportunity?”
Gilchrist sold the breeder $600 for that pup. But not long after that, he ghosted her.
“And now crickets, now I never hear from him,” she said.
Gilchrist thought the breeder was legitimate, based on the customer reviews on his website. But the I-Team found those exact same reviews, word for word, on similar-looking sites selling different dog breeds. The dog Gilchrist bought, Nina, is still listed for sale on Charley Morkie Pups, but we also found this exact same picture of her for sale on a different site under the name Joules.
“How dare you take advantage of people and really play on their emotions,” said Gilchrist.
The I-Team reached out to Charley Morkie Pups but did not get a response. Steve McFarland with the Better Business Bureau isn’t surprised.
“Every year I think we break records in the number of complaints we’re getting about breeders and pet scams,” said McFarland.
He says in 60% of the complaints he gets about breeders, the consumer never got the puppy they bought and never got their money back.
McFarland says before buying a dog from any breeder, you need to do a lot of research. Ask the breeder to connect you with past clients, to see a veterinarian report for the puppy you’re interested in buying, and to meet with you via Zoom if they can’t meet in person.
“In those conversations you should be asking, ‘Hey can you put me on cam so I can see Fluffy? You want to have live conversations with this breeder who can give you references and historical facts about the pet,” said McFarland.
As for Gilchrist, she’s decided to adopt a dog from a local shelter.
“I’m just going to go there and get a second-chance dog, for sure,” she said.