A short primer on scams in the dog trade, and how to avoid them.

Johnny Filart of the Philippine Canine Club, Inc. (PCCI) has had many years of experience in the canine scene, and he’s seen a lot in his time. “In 1980, my friends in Valle Verde, Miguel and Monica, started breeding German Shepherds. They were very fastidious and focused on their first litter very well. After the litter was ready to be weaned, they placed an ad in the Manila Bulletin Classified Ads [offering the pups for sale].”

A couple responded to the ad and arrived at their gated community in a taxicab. “Being first timers, they did not take notice of this as being unusual, even if the puppies they were trying to purchase was being sold for upwards of PhP 7,000 each [a huge sum in that era].” The “buyers” chose two of the puppies, who happened to be the top picks among the males and females—and that was another red flag the sellers missed.

A few days later, the buyers came back when Miguel and Monica were not around; using fast talk, they convinced the maid taking care of the puppies that “…they already had contacted Miguel and Monica in their respective offices and were there to pick up the chosen puppies. They gave the maid a check totaling PhP 14,000 and immediately departed.”

You can probably predict what happened next. “The checks turned out to be unfunded and the owners of the account bogus. The pups turned up in Cartimar and were sold to equally innocent buyers for PhP 10,000 a piece complete with the PCCI papers given by the maid when the puppies were stolen. As buyers in good faith, the real owners could not get the puppies back.”

Johnny says that you should not leave your househelp untrained when it comes to dealing with buyers. They should be briefed on “…how to handle monetary or commercial transactions…[also], sellers have to pay attention to clear red flags during the transactions, such as riding in untraceable vehicles and arriving, on purpose, during hours when the owners are away.”

There’s another type of heartbreaking scam: puppy mills and breeders who are not only unprofessional in their dealings with people, but who also do not care about the welfare of their dogs. Johnny offers this advice for avoiding such people:

• Always check with the PCCI regarding the veracity of the breeder and their history as breeders.

• Make sure to inspect the breeding facility to check the sire and dam of the litter. (It also pays to check on the sanitation of the breeding facility.)

• Take note of the surroundings and how well the breeder takes care of their pets.

• Ask what kind of dog food they use and make sure they are the premium brands rather that cheap and expired sacks sold in wet markets.

• Interview the breeder for at least thirty minutes to an hour and find out how well they know the breed. (If they refuse to do the interview, have little knowledge of the breed—but a lot about the prices of the dogs, or are surly or hostile, consider this a red flag.)

• Besides checking pedigrees, check the dog’s health card and make sure the vaccinations are signed by a legitimate veterinarian, and the vaccines were good and not expired. The stickers for the vaccines should be pasted on the cards. (Also make sure that you can contact the vets concerned for verification purposes.)

• Check the puppies physically and make sure they have no major or even minor deficiencies. It pays to read up on the breed’s standards.

This appeared as “Doggone It” under the article “Buyer and Seller Beware” in Animal Scene’s October 2015 issue.