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Pandemic Pet Scams Mark Latest In Online Schemes

Anna Dudkova

As the pandemic continues, so do scams. The newest twist involves pandemic puppies (or kittens.)

The Better Business Bureau reports $3 million in losses tied to a scam just this past year where the target believes they’re adopting a pet in another state.  A fake website or ad hits up victims for refundable insurance to ship the animal, and even non-existent COVID vaccines for it.

Megan Brezovar of the Greenhill Humane Society said it’s best to buy from a local breeder with high ratings and certifications from a kennel club.

“I had a family call me, they had literally just picked up a puppy on Craig’s List," recalled Brezovar. "It was underage, of being taken away from the mom, and was having seizures. We informed them to rush this animal to the hospital immediately.”

Brezovar adds it’s best when you can adopt in person, to judge how well it bonds with you.   And you can readily judge its condition better in person than through a photo that may not be authentic.

If you can't meet the puppy or kitten in person, ask for a video chat with the seller before putting money down on it.

Meanwhile, the FBI suggests doing reverse image searches for the pet to make sure it’s not being peddled across multiple sites.   They also advise to pay with credit card or a payment platform with good dispute resolution policies.  Never use a site that insists on cash, wire transfer, or gift cards.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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