When you're in the market for a new pet, try to avoid Craigslist.

Lonely dog puppy looking behind a fence
Wavetop, ThinkStock

That's the warning from Steve Shatkin, president of the New Jersey SPCA, following a recent incident in Neptune reported by Eyewitness News.

Despite a health certificate from a local veterinarian, a poodle mix puppy died less than a week after the Vacchiano family purchased the animal on Craigslist, according to the report. That health certificate was forged, it turns out, and the family's many attempts to reach the seller failed.

"I never think it's a good idea to buy a pet off Craigslist," Shatkin told New Jersey 101.5. "The biggest issue that I see is that there really is no oversight and there are no standards."

When purchasing a pet, Shatkin said, a significant part of the process is seeing how and where that pet is being raised. Your first encounter with the animal should not be in a supermarket parking lot.

"If they insist on coming to you...move on, don't do it," Shatkin said.

The Vacchianos made that mistake, according to the ABC report. Two men brought the puppy in exchange for $500 cash.

New Jersey law covers two classes of puppy sellers: pet shops and pet dealers, according to Cindy K. Miller, deputy director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs' Office of Consumer Protection. Unless it can be proven an unscrupulous Craigslist user has sold more than five animals in a 12-month period, the state has no authority for enforcement.

"What that leaves the consumer with is the ability, if the consumer can track down the seller, to sue the seller for fraud in misrepresenting the health and physical condition of the puppy," Miller said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at Dino.Flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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