Target 8: Are online puppies for sale even real? St. Pete couple out $2,000

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – They’re cute, they’re loveable, but, are the puppies for sale online even real?

Sharran Cooper spent nearly $2,000 with a mysterious Facebook page called English Bulldog and French Bulldog Puppies Pet Service in Miami.  He paid for a puppy that never materialized, a puppy that Cooper isn’t even sure exists.

“Don’t do it online. Go and check, actually see the dog,” advised Cooper.bulldog

Veterinarian Dr. Christy Layton has concerns about buying anything online, especially puppies.

“Puppies, you know, you have to worry, are these puppies really coming from a good, quality breeder, or are they coming from a puppy mill?” Layton queried.

Layton advises if you’re going to look online, go to the American Kennel Club website and look for a reputable breeder.

Locally, county shelters are bursting with animals.  Local rescues might also help find you the right animal.

In June, Cooper believed the testimonials on the English Bulldog and French Bulldog Puppies Facebook page, and it cost him.

He never got his pup or his money back.

“Anybody can go on there and post, and say, ‘oh we received our dogs, we received and put pictures of it there,'” he said.

Last year, Target 8 did report after report, about one owner after another, who fell in love with puppies advertised on Craigslist.

They bought them from Hayley Lidey of Hillsborough County.  Many of the dogs she sold were extremely ill with parvo virus.

“I was crying in the vet’s office as soon as they told me she had parvo.  As soon as we got her there, she just went limp in my arms,” Cecily Cortes remembered.

Cortes’s dog survived.

Cheryl Hostettler wasn’t that fortunate.

“Three days later, he died in my lap,” Hostettler said.

Shawn Tomaras discovered her puppy was severely ill with parvo. The family decided to put the dog out of its misery.

“I just held him until he fell asleep and the whole time, I was just sobbing,” Tomaras recalled.

“If you purchase a puppy within the state of Florida, that seller is required to have a health certificate by a veterinarian, which is an exam by a veterinarian stating that the animal is healthy, free of disease,” Layton pointed out.

Hayley Lidey’s customers got no health certificates.

“Nope, she told us she lost it and the vet will have it and she will email it,” Cortes added.

Layton hopes Hillsborough County adopts an ordinance that mirrors state law, but carries a $500 fine per animal.

That might put a stop to some dog day afternoons.

“They scammed us,” Cooper said.

Following Target 8’s report about Cooper’s plight, the people behind the Facebook page reached out and offered to reimburse him all but $680.

Cooper wants all of his money returned.  He plans to file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s office.

If you have a problem that you think needs to be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

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