A very, very sad story on the news out of California… a family bought a beautiful Morkie puppy from a Craigslist seller. Within just six days, Copper, the Yorkie Maltese mix, was dead.

white morkie feeling sickAs buyer Kathy Nixon said, “It’s very upsetting to see my children go through this.”

Her Veterinarian confirmed that the puppy would have been sold already suffering from parvovirus. And, of course, the Craigslist seller refused to cover the nearly $900 vet bill.

Because of puppy mills, both Kijiji and Craigslist have been targets of international petitions demanding they remove the sale of animals and only promote adoption from registered animal rescue groups and shelters and the re-homing of family pets (“for a small adoption fee”).


After this backlash, both sites have backed off pet sales to some degree but do allow people to advertise to “re-home” their own pet to a forever home. So now, unscrupulous puppy mill breeders pose as regular dog owners, pretending to “re-home their pet. There is a “small” fee, which is usually anywhere from $300 to $900 and up, supposedly for shipping and other ‘costs’. As one writer put it:

“I thought I would be doing a good deed and providing a forever home. Instead, it was a breeder scam.”

Be sure to ask to visit the breeder’s kennel or home and see the other Morkies and dogs they have. The mother dog should be at the same location. Watch for suspicious signs – otherwise, you could be buying blind.

If the seller insists on meeting you at the halfway point or somewhere other than where the other puppies and parent dogs are, you know you’re dealing with a puppy mill.

The California Case 

Ironically, there is a law in California that protects people who buy dogs. But this seller insists she’s not a “real breeder.”  If you buy from a breeder, defined in California as someone who sells at least twenty puppies or three litters a year, you have rights if a dog becomes sick within the first 15 days.

  • You can return the dog for a refund and get your vet bills covered up to the dog’s purchase price.
  • Exchange the dog and get your vet bills for the dog’s cost.
  • Or keep the dog and get up to 150% of the price to cover the vet bills with proof of the illness

 Want more tips on avoiding sick puppies, scams and puppy mill dogs?

Download my free e-book, “The 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get a Morkie.” Among other tips, this e-book tells you how to avoid getting stung like Kathy Nixon.


The AKC’s warning about online puppy sales

Puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales (sans the puppies.) This means that if you aren’t careful, you could find the perfect puppy, send the ‘breeder’ your money, and never receive a puppy or any follow-up communication in return.

While many times these fake listings appear on websites like Craigslist, some scammers find ways to position themselves as reputable breeders by stealing personal info from them.

Luckily, it’s easy to know what to look for to ensure your puppy-buying experience is both safe and enjoyable.


What are the Red Flags?

No phone calls. The seller prefers to handle communication by email and not by phone. A reputable breeder will always communicate with you via phone or video chat (if not in person) before selling you a puppy. Fraudulent sellers are oftentimes outside of the U.S. and may be hiding their phone numbers by only communicating by email.

Copycat or stock photos. Photos of the dog or ad text can be found on multiple websites. Search for the text in the listing to see if the seller copied and pasted it from another site.

Sketchy payment. The seller asks for the wiring of money or payment by gift cards. Be aware that if you choose a non-secure payment method, it is highly unlikely that you will get your money back. Avoid paying a stranger using apps such as Venmo, as it is harder to get your money back if you don’t get what you paid for. Paying by credit card or PayPal is typically the safest option.

The price is too good to be true. Research the prices for the breed you are considering ahead of time. Purebred dogs sold at deeply discounted prices are typically frauds. If the seller says they register their dogs with a specific organization, you can call the organization to confirm.

Breeder “badges.” AKC does not distribute badges to breeders.


7 Warning signs that you’re dealing with a puppy mill or unscrupulous backyard breeder

1. The “breeder” is local, but no, you can’t visit. Instead, he or she wants to meet at a halfway point, a mall or car-park.

2.  You can visit – but you see 3 or more different breeds running around. This is a red flag that the breeder isn’t committed to one breed or hybrid and is just churning out whatever puppies she can to make money.

3. Dirty or stinky facilities. Genuine breeders love their dogs and put their care first. The home and puppy area should be clean and tidy and a safe environment for the puppies and parents.

4. Junky hand-painted signs on the road, advertising puppies for sale. This isn’t how a real kennel runs its business.

5. Puppies are always available, and the breeder will let you take one at Christmas, Easter, etc. No good breeder will release a puppy during these high-stress times and no responsible breeder always has a handy supply of puppies.

6. Stay away from anyone who’s selling puppies at a public place like a flea market, yard sale, swap meet or pet store, or out of the back of a pickup truck, car or van.

7. Be suspicious of the breeder who doesn’t demand that you spay or neuter your puppy. A genuine breeder will ask you to sign an agreement that your dog will NOT be bred.

sign of a puppy scam

Homemade signs like these, filthy surroundings and lots of different breeds running around are all signs you’re dealing with an unscrupulous and cruel puppy mill.

Free Report about Morkies

7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get a Morkie

FREE REPORT by small dog expert Deb Gray.

Click to order your free report. Instant download, so you can read it right away on your computer, smartphone, tablet, iPad or laptop.

read this free report on any device