Common Pet Scams & How To Spot Them

Pet Scams Play on Owners’ Love for Animals

(MS) – Most pet owners consider their pet’s friend part of the family. Such a bond can make for some scary moments if a pet decides to wander off. In such unfortunate circumstances, many pet owners will do anything it takes and pay whatever price to get their pet back home safe and sound.

That willingness, in turn, makes pet owners highly susceptible to scams. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell people not to think with their hearts when they’re worried about a lost pet. Here are some common pet scams that target distraught individuals.

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Found Pet ads

The age of technology has opened the door for scam artists in many arenas, and the lost pet arena is no exception. Upon losing a pet, many decide to head to the Internet or their local newspaper and search through the “Found Pet” ads. This can be a great way to find a lost pet, but it can also be a way to get scammed. Acting carefully is the best advice in these situations.

These scams typically follow the same pattern. A pet owner who recently lost a pet will find an ad saying a dog was recently found in a certain area. Pet owners will then respond, and someone will then say they found the pet on the highway, but due to the nature of their work (truck driver, salesman, even a vacationer) or travel, they cannot return the pet without first being reimbursed for the transportation fees. Oftentimes, these scammers will even ask the pet owner to describe the pet and then tell them it is, in fact, the right animal. Excited pet owners will then agree to wire funds, only the scammer does not actually have the dog. The scammer will then keep the money and the pet owner will be left still looking for the pet and out a lot of money as well.

The best way to approach a situation like this is to remain rational. Anyone who found the pet and was willing to take it in and post an ad for it will no doubt be willing to return the animal in person.

Lost Pet ads

Many scammers use “Lost Pet” ads as a source of information and to find their next victim. Anyone posting a “Lost Pet” ad, be it online, on a local community bulletin board, or in the newspaper should be careful what they include in such postings. Giving away all pertinent information, such as where and when the dog was lost, can make it difficult to determine if the person who has “found” your pet is really a scammer.

Pet Theft

A common scam, particularly with dogs, is to steal a dog and then wait for a reward to be offered. Purebreds, which can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, are usually the targets of such scams, as con artists know they can demand higher rewards.
A way around this is to avoid leaving any dog outdoors unattended. All it takes is a few minutes for a thief to run off with a dog. While the thief may attempt to acquire a reward, an expensive dog can also be sold to other private individuals, or even worse, to dogfighting rings to use as bait dogs or medical testing companies.
High-priced reptiles and birds are also targets of thieves, who may purposefully break into a home to steal these pets and sell them to others who are willing to fork over big bucks.

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