CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — We have another scam alert to tell you about and this one centers around puppies.
For many, finding a puppy at a local shelter here in the Coastal Bend can make the perfect Christmas gift. Others turn to the internet to find the perfect four-legged friend.
But beware because crooks are working overtime this holiday season to make sure you buy a puppy and then get a huge surprise when that so-called gift never arrives.
At Corpus Christi Animal Care Services, there are plenty of pups you can see for yourself in-person.
“Right now, we have a lot of great adoptable animasl,” said Joel Skidmore with Corpus Christi Animal Care Services. “There's a lot of animals that we need to find placement for.”
But if you'd rather buy a puppy online, things can take a twisted turn.
"She is a real sweetheart, a real love bug,” said Kerri McIntosh after she fell in love with a doberman puppy for sale in a Facebook dog lovers group.
"She said this is the price, it includes shipping, it is $1,300,” McIntosh said as she showed text messages of her dealings with the so-called breeder.
But not long after McIntosh sent the money through an app, all of a sudden the breeder needs more money.
"I need $750 for a crate,” McIntosh recalls being told.
And then? The breeder needed hundreds more for vaccinations, insurance, even a permit.
At that point, McIntoshi had so much invested that she kept paying. In the end, she forked over almost $5,000. It was then, the bogus breeder simply disappeared.
Then there's Denise Alvarez who put out $800 as she wanted to buy a Halvanese puppy from a breeder website.
"My husband and I looked at each other and said Christmas is going to be very slim this year!” Alvarez said.
Katie Galan of the Better Business Bureau recommends starting at a shelter where you can actually see the puppy.
"If you absolutely have to buy an animal online...ask the seller to do a FaceTime or video call with you so that you can see the seller, you can see the pet and you can see the environment that it's in,” Galan advises.
The Better Business Bureau already issued an alert about puppy scams after getting thousands of complaints nationwide since the pandemic began. It’s a scam you won’t find at Corpus Christi Animal Care Services.
“A lot of the animals here need a second chance,” Skidmore said, urging people to go to your local shelter first.
As for Denise and Kerri, they’ve been burned and are now warning other pet owners.
"It's hard, I saved for almost a year to get that dog,” McIntosh told us as tears began to fill her eyes.
Experts recommend you buy from a local breeder, google the breeder, pay with a credit card, and most importantly they say, video chat so you can see the breeder and the puppy.
Finally, if you're on the fence about buying a puppy, you can always go to your local animal shelter.
Corpus Christi Animal Care Services has plenty of four-legged friends who need furever homes.