By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Need a new best friend? Here are some tips to find the perfect pet without getting scammed.

There’s just something about puppies.

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“You see a puppy and you absolutely want that puppy,” said hobby breeder and dog trainer, Nina Torres.

Nina breeds French Bulldogs.  She knows how easily people fall for those furry faces.

And scammers know it too.

“I’ve seen people lose $300 all the way to $3,000,” said Torres.

That’s because that cute pup that you found online may not even be for sale.

“You have those puppy scams where people pretend to be selling an animal, you send the money, you don’t get an animal,” said Brian Hackett, New Jersey state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

He says there’s a sure fire way to avoid being victimized a puppy buying scam.

“We encourage people to adopt, and don’t shop,” said Hackett.

Shelters like this one in Camden County have a wide variety of dogs from energetic pups like boomer to older dogs like Grace.

You might even find your favorite breed.

“Shelters have animals surrendered to them all the time from people or families that are unable to keep their animal anymore and they happen to be pure bred or the special breeds that people like,” said Hackett.

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If you can’t find the dog you’re looking for at a local shelter or rescue, and you’re thinking of buying at a pet shop, Camden County freeholder Jeff Nash warns, do your research.  Make sure you know where the dog is coming from.

“We became the first county in the entire country to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in each of the 37 municipalities,” said Nash.

And be wary when it comes to online buying.

“Many of the internet sales come from brokers who are buying their dogs cheap from these horrific puppy mills,” said Nash.

Finally, look for these red flags:

-Avoid sellers asking for payment by money order or wire transfer

-Steer clear of breeders offering suspiciously low prices

– Walk away if the seller refuses to let you meet the puppy before buying

“You should meet the breeder.  You should see that person’s operation and that responsible breeders’s gonna want to meet you as well,” said Nash.

That’s the way Nina operates.

“All of my parents come to the house. I will never ship a puppy. They’re not just a dog that lives in a house, they’re a member of the family,” said Torres.

For some reason pet buying scams seem to involve mostly dogs, we hear few complaints about buying cats.

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If you’re looking to adopt a specific type of dog or pet the Humane Society recommends checking and