Special to The Dallas Examiner
National Puppy Day is on Mar. 23 and social media users can expect a near constant stream of puppy pictures to take over their feeds during the day. After seeing these pictures, some people may decide that the time is right to add a furry family member to their household or will use the day to gift their canine companion with some new treats and toys. Regardless of how current or prospective pet owners decide to celebrate National Puppy Day, Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to be wary when purchasing products or pets online and provides a few pet-specific marketplace issues they may want to consider.
According to BBB’s 2022 Scam Tracker Risk Report, pets and pet supplies are among the top products used to perpetrate an online purchase scam. Consumer reports to BBB demonstrate fraudulent sellers advertising kennels, dog beds, toys and flea or tick medications. Scammers may use a stock photo of a pet available for adoption or purchase and, after an initial payment is made, the buyer begins to encounter complications and additional fees when arranging transportation. Additional fees typically used include medications, insurance, quarantine procedures or kenneling. When the buyer attempts to walk away from the transaction, some scammers may threaten them with pet abandonment charges.
“Scammers can quickly change from being friendly to aggressive when carrying out a pet scam,” said Heather Massey, vice president of communications for BBB. “At first, they encourage engagement with great photos and a story revolving around finding the animal a great, loving home. Eventually, when the buyer begins to demand their money back or tries to walk away from the transaction, the scammer will often threaten them with legal action – all in an attempt to keep the money flowing into their pockets.”
In addition to keeping an eye out for fraudulent online purchases this National Puppy Day, BBB provides a few additional marketplace issues the organization has noticed that use pets as a catalyst:
When a pet escapes from their home or yard, it can be devastating for their family as they worry about its safety and health, especially during extreme weather. In a desperate attempt to find the missing animal, many owners take to social media asking their community to keep an eye out. Unfortunately, con artists take advantage of their pleas for help and will contact the owner claiming to have found their pet but will only give it back for a reward. Be wary of how much information you provide when posting about a missing pet, and always try to keep one characteristic hidden from the post or picture that you can use to verify that the person who claims to have your pet actually does.
Dog-sitters or dog walkers
For busy pet owners, a dog-sitter or dog walker is a great option to make sure their canine companion is well-cared for when out of town or if otherwise unable to regularly exercise the animal. However, it is important to carefully choose an individual or business that specializes in pet care due to access they are given to your residence and the trust that is placed in them to keep the pet safe. Be sure to thoroughly read reviews when considering one of these services and to safeguard sensitive information or money in your home if the service will be there without you.
Purchasing pet food or treats
Some individuals or small businesses may offer their own proprietary pet food or treats for sale as a safe, healthy alternative to big brand products. While many of these sellers take great care to ensure the product is safe for pets to consume, defections in packaging that introduce plastic or glass into the food can quickly create an emergency situation, and other types of food that your pet’s digestive system isn’t accustomed to could make them uncomfortable. Always monitor your pet closely when introducing new food into their diet and inspect the packaging closely for any signs of damage before giving it to them. Keep in mind that some ingredients that are safe for human consumption, such as xylitol, are hazardous to dogs.
Finding a veterinarian
Choosing an ethical and caring veterinarian is an important decision for pet owners who place the well-being of their furry family members in the hands of a stranger. When the need of a veterinarian arises, the pet is often in a vulnerable state and owners place their hope in a veterinarian’s expertise to diagnose and treat the issue. Unfortunately, not all veterinarian offices exercise the same level of care when treating their patients, and some pets behave abnormally for weeks after being returned to their owner. When searching for a veterinarian, carefully read reviews from previous customers on BBB.org and check if or how the business responds to complaints.
To find BBB accredited pet groomers, sitters and boarders close by, visit https://www.bbb.org/petscams.