How to Avoid Online Dog Scammers
In 2021, the pandemic is still very serious and millions of families are spending more time at home than ever. The surge of COVID-19 lead to an increase in pet adoption, purchasing, and demand. Rescue organizations are overwhelmed by the number of homes willing to support a rescue dog. While this is great for dogs who need homes, the high demand low supply has presented an opportunity for scammers and eager inexperienced targets.
If the puppy pictures seem too good to be true, they just might be. It’s extremely difficult to think logically when emotions are involved. Getting a dog should be a very exciting milestone. Receiving multiple photos of adorable puppies that could become your own heightens the excitement and chemicals in your brain that may cloud your judgement.
This tip is useful if you are at all suspicious that the person you’re talking to might be trying to scam you. You can reverse image search the photo online. This may sound techie, but I assure you, it’s very simple and I’ve written out how to do it step-by-step.
How to reverse image search
- Save the image of the dog onto your device
- Open Google
- Click images
- Search by image
- Upload the file
- Browse the results
Meet the parents
If someone is posting about new puppies, but they don’t have either one of the parents, this is suspect. You can absolutely ask to see photos of the parents, video-chat with them, and ask about their temperment. If the parents are not present, where did the puppies come from? You may not like the answer.
If they are super far, they are super fake. Perhaps they are willing to meet you halfway or drop off at your house. That may sound generous and convenient for you at first, but this is the biggest brightest red flag. This person is not going to show up. They will take your deposit and disappear off the face of the earth.
Trick or treat
If the “seller” doesn’t ask any questions about your living situation, financial responsibility, intentions for training, etc. This could be a red flag. If the seller truly cared about the puppy (rather than just the money) they would want to ensure the puppy is going to a good home. If the person insists on receiving a hefty deposit as soon as possible to secure your hold, it’s probably a scam.
The easiest way to avoid scams is by reaching out to trusted sources. Ask family members, coworkers, friends and others whom you trust for recommendations.
Adoption is a really great option for several reasons, but for the purpose of this article, it is very unlikely you will get scammed by an adoption agency. Their intentions and morals lie with the animals and in doing what is best for them.
If adoption is not the right decision for you, you may want to look into local ethical registered breeders. You can access a list of references specific to your location through the American Kennel Club.
If you notice a couple potential red flags, but you aren’t really sure if they’re dealbreakers. You’re hoping for the best, but feel skeptical and overly causious. If you recognize that you’re picking up on a bad vibe consider it as a possibility.
The pandemic is breeding scammers making this a very difficult time to get a dog. Trust your gut. Ask questions. Do your research. I applaud you for reading this article. Videochat. Set up a social distanced visit. The urgency of placing a hold on a puppy adds a lot of pressure. You have time to think. What’s meant to be will be. Go for a walk. Clear your puppy brain. I know the photos are overwhelmingly cute. I know you really want one. Don’t let that blind you. Keep at it. Practice patience. Your gotcha day will come.