Pet adoption scams – SCAM OF THE MONTH

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Walter has always wanted a dog, and now that his new job lets him work from home, it is the perfect time to find a furry friend.

He started searching online and found one woman who was moving to a new apartment that didn’t allow pets. She was hoping to re-home her pup as soon as possible so that he would not have to go to a shelter.

The ad did not include much information about the dog, but Walter didn’t think anything of it because the pictures were so cute. He reached out to the woman to express his interest in adopting the pet, and even offered her references. She never asked any questions of him, but did request that he pay a “holding fee” and cover the charges to ship the animal from her location. Walter asked if he could just go pick up the dog so that they could meet in person, but the owner refused claiming she was too busy with the move.


Did you spot the red flags?

  • Rehoming ads that do not include information on the pet, their personality, or health information can be a cause for concern.
  • A legitimate rehoming often involves the owner asking questions of the adopter or includes an adoption application.
  • Limiting in-person contact by not allowing a meet[1]and-greet is often a bad sign that the animal does not exist.


What you should know about this scam

One common pet adoption scam requires the adopter to pay for the “shipping cost” of the animal. The adopter is sent to a fraudulent website to input their information. The money is taken from their card, but the animal never arrives.

Another way that scammers can easily steal money from potential adopters is by requiring a deposit to “reserve” the animal. Keep an eye out for suspicious forms of payment, as well, such as cash, wire transfer, or gift cards.

Many classified / advertising websites ban the sale of animals, however, sellers can often skirt these rules by using the term “rehoming.” The easiest way to avoid pet adoption scams and stop the use of online forums to buy and sell animals, is to adopt from a reputable animal rescue / organization or from your local animal shelter.