Beware of "Lost Pet" Scams
Pet owners are distraught and vulnerable when a beloved pet goes missing. Unfortunately, there are some insidious scams meant to defraud heartbroken pet owners. By checking 'lost pet' ads, these unscrupulous people find their next victim. Here are some of the more common lost pet scams, followed by tips on how you can help your pet stay safe.
The Pay-Me-First Scam
A pet owner receives a phone call from a person who claims that They have the lost pet. This person asks that the reward money be sent to them first before they return the pet. If the pet owner refuses, they will often threaten to hurt the pet in order to pressure the pet owner into paying.
The Truck Driver Scam
Someone claiming to be a long-haul truck driver tells you that he came across your pet while on his route. He then asks you to send him money so that he can send your lost pet back to you.
In another variation, the scammer may ask you to send him money to board your pet until he can send your pet back with another truck driver who's heading your way.
A third variation has the scammer claiming that your pet needed vet care which he had done. He asks that you send him money so that he can pick up your pet from the vet and send him back to you.
You receive a call from someone who says that they think they have your pet. After talking to you for a while and getting information about your pet, they apologize and say that they're sorry, but it turns out that it's not your pet after all. They then give all the information about your pet to a partner. The partner contacts you and gives an accurate description of your pet (making you hope & believe that he actually does have him), then asks for a reward before they'll return your pet.
The Airline Ticket Scam
Someone calls and claims that your pet somehow ended up in another state or province. They ask you to send money for a kennel and an airline ticket and they'll ship your pet back. Once the pet owners sends the money, the scammer walks away with it. The pet owner never sees his pet and has lost his money too.
Keeping Your Pet Safe
Many other scams exist, as well as several variations of the ones listed above. Be cautious - never send a reward until your pet is back home with you.
Some of the things you can do to help keep your pet safe include:
- Make sure your pet wears ID at all times. That includes a license tag, a tattoo, and a microchip.
- Do not leave your pet outside unattended. If they are outside alone, check on them every few minutes. Do not leave them outside unattended if you're not home!
- Keep your fence in good condition: repair any loose boards or holes; put a lock or a tension cable on the gate so that it can only be opened with conscious effort; and make sure that there aren't any gaps at the bottom of the fence where your dog might be able to crawl out. If your dog is a relentless digger you may need to extend the fence down into the ground by several feet. If he's a jumper, build a fully enclosed dog run with a roof.
Beware of Bunchers and Class B Dealers
This is one of the most heartbreaking things that can happen to a much-loved pet. Class B Dealers are people who are licensed by the USDA and can gather pets from "random sources" such as auctions or flea markets. "Bunchers" also collect animals from random sources, but are not regulated. Both groups sell the pets to research facilities. There have been reports that these people have stolen pets from yards and cars, or answer "free to good home" ads! More information about Bunchers and Class B Dealers is available from the >Humane Society of the United States.
What To Do If Your Pet Goes Missing
- Only provide the most basic information in your ads.
- Don't provide information that only you would know, such as unique markings or physical attributes.
- Don't provide your pet's name or ID information in the ad.
- For safety reasons, don't put your home address in the ad (a community name or location is fine).
- If someone calls claiming to have found your pet, ask them to describe the animal to you. Don't ask 'leading questions' like, 'Does he have a white socks on his front paws?'. Make the caller provide the pet's description.
- Get a phone number where you can contact the caller.
- Consider asking the caller to drop the pet off at a vet for boarding, so that you can go pick him up.
- If you have found a pet, make sure you verify someone's claim that the pet belongs to them before you hand the pet back to them. Vet records, photos, license tag information, etc. are good for this purpose.
Although it is understandly an emotional time if your pet goes missing, keep a clear head and be aware of lost pet scams. It can help you separate real information from someone who is merely trying to take advantage of the situation. Be safe and alert!
Reprinted from the Pet Friendly Canada website.