Several confirmed cases of rabies in Taiwan stirred up panic. Responding to the situation, the American Institute in Taiwan [which represents U.S. commercial, consular and other interests] said the U.S. won’t change its rules for importing pets from Taiwan. This relieved many people who are in the underground business of reselling puppies from Taiwan in the U.S. Some international students make a whopping $20,000 per month by doing the business part time.
Although animal protection advocacy groups have been promoting adoption in lieu of purchasing pets, some pet lovers are particularly interested in certain breeds of dogs. This has created a hot market for puppies. Breeds like Teacup Poodles, Shiba Inus, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs are in short supply in the U.S. so their prices have always been very high. But these breeds are popular among breeders in Taiwan so the prices there are much lower. Even after the shipping fee, they still cost at most half of what they do in the U.S. As a result, some people, when purchasing puppies in Taiwan for themselves, often buy a few more for resale.
Mr. Xu, an international student from Shanghai studying in New York, said he was trying to buy a bulldog as a companion. But the prices were too high in the U.S. Then he located on the Internet a well-reputed Taiwanese breeder which sells American Kennel Club-recognized French bulldogs for only $900. A puppy cost $1,200 including the shipping fee, less than half of the price in New York. He decided to buy it from Taiwan. This experience inspired him to start a lucrative business.
Mr. Xu said that at the end of last year, he started to buy puppies from that breeder in Taiwan and posted the pictures on related websites and online chatrooms in the U.S. offering the puppies for sale. Business is thriving. When asked where the puppies were from, he told different customers different stories. For example, to Western customers, he’d say they are the offspring of his own dog, and to Asian customers, he would be honest and say that they are from Taiwan.
Mr. Xu said that the poodle, French bulldog and English bulldog are the most popular breeds and, therefore, the most profitable ones. He sells a poodle for $1,500, a French bulldog for $3,500, and an English bulldog for $3,000. He said he makes $800 to $2,000 in profit on each puppy. In his best month, he sold almost 30 puppies and made $40,000. He said a friend of his studying in California is also in this business and makes comparable profits.
The owner of a well-known kennel in Taiwan, who insisted on remaining anonymous, said the kennel has been working with resellers on the east and west coasts of the U.S. and in Canada. It sells close to 50 puppies per month overseas this way. He would send pictures of puppies to resellers who would then post the pictures online. After receiving confirmed orders, he’d ship the puppies out. The resellers only need to go to the airport to take the puppies and then send them to the home of the buyers. They don’t have to worry about taking care of the puppies.
He said upon the confirmation of the rabies cases in Taiwan recently, he and his resellers worried their business would be affected by a possible quarantine requirement from U.S. authorities on puppies imported from Taiwan. But luckily, nothing has changed so far. He said there might be some legal issues involved in reselling puppies in the U.S. But most resellers are international students. They don’t care much.