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‘Tis the season to be merry…AND WARY of pet scams! That’s right, it’s the Holiday Season so gift buying and new pet acquiring are high on everyone’s list once again. But―make no mistake about it―the Covid Pandemic has severely cut into the shopper traffic and sales at many local brick and mortar pet stores. Because of that, a lot of folks are searching online for their new pets for the first time.
Warning: Before we dive in further on this issue, first I would say that you should think very carefully about whether purchasing a pet for the Holidays is the right thing to do. Any animal is a HUGE commitment. You are going to need to spend a lot of time and money on any pet. DON’T be swayed by thinking you want to get a pet for the Holidays and then either you or the kids quickly lose interest after Christmas when the reality of caring for the animal sets in. That’s how a lot of pets, whether cats, dogs, rabbits or other small animals, end up in the shelters in the first place – don’t contribute to that!
That said, if you are moving ahead – for the right reasons only – this article is all about safely adopting new pets―your safety and your new best friend’s, and it applies both now and year round. So, if you’re looking for a new companion dog or cat―especially if you haven’t looked online before―then this post should be especially helpful to you. Please read on to learn more about why you should adopt companion pets locally.
Finding Your Best Bud
Online traffic and orders for all sorts of consumer goods are reaching new highs due to the pandemic. That’s great for online shoppers and sellers of hard and soft consumer goods, but it’s not so great for those looking for new pets.
Pet Scams – Be Alert!
There are plenty of internet pet scammers out there putting up fake pet selling sites. A great place to check out the legitimacy of pet selling sites and get lots of honest information about pet scams and scammers is petscams.com. A lot of these scammers are off-shore in far-away places around the world, but they can really be anywhere. Just because a site is in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. doesn’t always mean they are for real.
Scammers are savvy crooks who prey on the emotions of honest, trusting folks. These cons often have bona fide looking social pages and websites filled with pictures of cute puppies, adorable kittens, purebred dogs, and popular hybrids. But be careful. These con artists have no real pets to sell. They are frauds who will steal your money and deliver you nothing but heartbreak. It’s buyer-beware so it’s really up to you to know who you are dealing with. Don’t become a victim scammed out of hundreds of dollars and left without a pet or legal recourse.
Buy or Adopt Local
With all that said, just what is one to do? How does a person find the right pet? It’s simple―buy or adopt your pet dog or cat from a local breeder, a local family you trust, or a licensed shelter. Many of these have an internet presence as well as a local home or place of business you can visit.
If you can’t find your perfect pet at local sources, then it’s okay to broaden your search. Maybe a breeder or shelter in a nearby city or neighboring state will have just the right pet for you. But, be safe and smart about it. Ask around. Get local references. Get customer references. Check into their local and state permits (hint: you can do this at your official city, county, state or provincial offices or websites.).
Pet Sources to Avoid
- Internet sellers, whether domestic or foreign, that do not have the following:
- solid references you can privately contact
- a registered business license
- a physical business address including a genuine kennel or cat compound
- a certifiable breeder’s permit.
If all they have is a website and email, then run―don’t walk―away. And, if they won’t provide any of these credentials, then do not do business with them. Please check with petscams.com to see if the seller in question has been flagged.
- Pet Stores (Big Box or Mom and Pop)―These places often get pets from puppy mills or other undesirable sources. Malnourishment, diseases, genetic disorders, parasites, and kennel cough are some of the potential problems. If your favorite pet store does not source puppies this way then fine. But, don’t assume, you need to ask them.
- Puppy farms or puppy mills―Be aware that puppy mills providing basic food, water and shelter are legal in many states. They may be repulsive to most and unwanted by many but they remain legal in most states. These places should be avoided because they are usually mismanaged. They often overcrowd and mix puppies which often results in sick and damaged (physically and mentally) dogs.
- Foreign or out of state social sites, especially those operated by persons with no verifiable pet related credentials. Chances are good that these are scammers or just people looking to unload an unwanted litter or to make a fast buck.
Don’t Fall for Pet Scams Now or In the Future
Well, there you have it. People are often conned by pet scammers, especially this time of year. A final word to the wise―never buy a pet online without getting verifiable credentials from the seller and independent recommendations from past buyers. If you are buying a registered dog or cat always review the registration papers before any money changes hands.