Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beware of “Dog Rescue” Scams

News reports continue to surface regarding international scam artists using internet websites, online classified ads and emails to offer puppies to Americans interested in purchasing or “rescuing” them.

In most of these scams, the puppies are offered at a price that is much lower than the prices charged by U.S. breeders or kennels, often only a few hundred dollars to cover “shipping expenses” for dogs that traditionally cost over a thousand dollars when purchased from a legitimate breeder.

The ads or messages offer many different explanations for the low prices. Sometimes, the puppies have supposedly been "rescued" from closed kennels or abusive breeders. Other scam artists even claim to represent missionaries or relief organizations attempting to place unwanted puppies in good homes or claim to be helping low-income communities raise money. Often, the scammers claim to be looking for good homes for puppies, asking only that consumers pay the cost of shipping the dog to the United States. However, once payment is made, the scammer never sends the dog, costing the consumer hundreds, or thousands of dollars, as well as emotional heartbreak.

There are several ways to help spot a scam. They include:

• Use of a “free” email service, such as Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL.

• Refusal to speak with you on the telephone or to give you a number to call.

• A contract that states they are not responsible for any injuries or existing medical conditions as soon as you gain possession of the dog.

However, the best way to avoid a pet adoption scam is to rescue your pet from a reputable local animal shelter. Locally, these include the Beverly Animal Shelter, in Waterloo, New York, and the Tompkins County SPCA, located just outside of Ithaca.