I paid for an ad in the puppies section of kijiji but it apparently doesn't care for the content I want to write in it because it keeps deactivating, so here it is:
A number of people I've spoken with recently have told me how they've been scammed out of money (some repeatedly) during their search for a puppy.
It is estimated that 80% of advertised puppies are actually scammers.
Yes, it is normal practice for a breeder to ask for a nonrefundable deposit to hold your puppy. That way they know you will be a reliable family to one of their puppies and not one of the many window shoppers who express an interest but never quite show up.
The need for a deposit probably makes it easy for someone to ask for a deposit on a puppy they don't even have, but you can protect yourself.
Use a traceable payment method, like an e-transfer. That way, if you lose it to a scammer, you have proof to show the police and they can find where it went.
But do not give out credit card information.
Our favourite payment method is to send an e-transfer but keep the password to yourself until you arrive and see the puppy.
Pictures are not proof of a puppy. Those can be taken from another ad or website. Same with video. You can still see proof of a puppy during a pandemic. Regardless of pandemic, you cannot visit a puppy in person that has not yet received its first vaccination from a veterinarian.
Ask for a live video call during which you can see the puppies and their parents.
Ask to visit the breeder's driveway while they hold up the puppy from six feet away to show you that it exists.
Breeders need some information from you, including your name, address, phone number, and how many adults, children, and other pets are in your household. They do NOT need to know the names of those children and pets. Scammers can use this information to target you. Be stingy with it. Ask them why they need the information they are requesting.
In Canada, a puppy must be at least 8 weeks old to leave mother and 12 weeks old to travel. Anyone offering to ship one under 12 weeks is almost definitely shady. Pets in transit are treated as luggage and stored accordingly, so I doubt many breeders are comfortable with shipping them at any age.
Additionally, it should have been seen by a vet at 6 weeks of age, at which time the vet would provide a vaccination record/envelope and a signed examination paper.
Good luck in your search.
If you tell me about the shady pet deals you've encountered, I'll update this page to help inform the next person.