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An Australian woman, Ashleigh Johnson of Kellyville in Sydney's northwest, in December 2009 placed an ad to sell a chihuahua pup. So who shows up but a woman armed with a Glock.

A man in a car with an obscured liscense plate waited outside for his girlfriend to steal a pup at gunpoint, in a "your puppy or your life!" scenario.

Ashleigh's father Graham Johnson (an off-duty security guard) and brother Blake leapt upon the armed woman and wrestled her onto the sofa to get the gun away from her. "It was surreal," said Ashleigh. "I thought I was in a movie."

Fortunately, Ashleigh's dad was a security officer who was able to disarm the gun-toting robber, who went all "i-am-so-sorry-let-me-go-boo-hoo-hoo" claiming to be dying of cancer (probably a lie, but we might be tempted to hope it's true). She claimed she didn't really want to hurt anyone; she just wanted a puppy, and lacked the asking price of $1,500.

The chihuahua's name is Diego and he became a star on the evening news. Ashleigh knowing superb free advertising when she saw it did the full rounds with the cute pup alleging to "warn" home-breeders that this could happen, but never failing to solicit further contacts from prospective buyers. Check out one of Ashleigh's Television Appearances.

Worldwide fall-out from the incident has home-breeders increasingly paranoid about letting people see puppies in the home. It's also been a real boon for puppy mills and unclean trailer trash to not let prospective buyers see dogs beforehand.

Increasingly breeders claim to be afraid of robbers when demanding payment beforehand and delivery at an neutral location, drop-off, or shipment.

DiegoOne typical on-line dealer charges top-dollar for dogs which must be purchased exclusively from photographs. Even if you live nearby dogs must be shipped and cannot be seen in advance.

This particular vendor runs a clearing house of alleged home breeders. She claims to sell only home-bred dogs which preposterously enough are believed to be healthier friendlier animals. So most puppy mills make this claim, seeing as how marks and suckers so easily fall for it.

The vendor in quesstion called me on the phone hoping to be promoted at the Empire of the Chihuahua.

In the course of an hour-long phone conversation, I heard a sales pitch backwards and forwards.

The dogs were said to be all in best health and came with lengthy warrantees (yeah, try to collect when your dog drops dead of parvo virus a week after arrival in shipping crate). All puppies allegedly had extensive veterinarian check-ups including heart sonograms and were up-to-date on their shots.

But the one rule that could not be broken under any circumstance: no dog can be seen in advance of payment and delivery, "Because one of our home breeders was robbed at gun-point."

I didn't bother to mention that I knew this happened in Australia, not to one of her personal-friend American breeders, for whom she serves as middleman seller. I just let the jabbery saleswoman continued dig her hole deeper. Her claims of perfect health went out the door when she mentioned, as if it were funny, that her own personal pet was enormously overweight because she could not resist providing a continous stream of fattening treats.

The supernally high quality of the "home" breeders became increasingly suspect as she began telling tales out of school about eccentric behaviors that sounded like hoarders and headcases lucky if they could tie their own shoes, let along take care of way too many dogs. One breeeder refused AKC registration (though charging more than for the typical AKC dogs) because the whole AKC registry process was a criminal scam. Well, takes one to know one.

But to many customers, I'm sure the absolute refusal to permit dogs to be seen beforehand sounds reasonable given that "one of our breeders was robbed at gunpoint." Never fall for it. If a breeder won't let you see the conditions the dogs live in, that's because the conditions are abominable. In their "trust me" won't-prove-it context they'll lie themselves blue in the face that that isn't so, but it is so. Never buy a dog from anyone striving to convince you their nutso policies and miscellaneous foolery is reasonable and right.


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