Puppy scams on the rise in southern Arizona amid pandemic

Puppy scams

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - If a puppy is on your Christmas wish list, you’d better watch out!

With COVID-19 forcing many legitimate adoption agencies online it’s hard to tell what is a scam. In fact, more people are getting scammed in our area than in years past.

“We’ve seen an increase in the complaints through our Scam Tracker and it’s just amazing to me. It’s awful,” said Sean Herdrick, Director of Marketing and Communications, BBB Serving Southern Arizona.

Herdrick says puppy scams are on the rise big time across the nation.

“I think 2017 was 700 when we last did our study and our new study shows that there’s been over 4,000 already this year and we’re trending to hit about 4,300,” he said.

Unfortunately, he says we’re following that trend in Southern Arizona.

“We’ve seen quite a few totaling over several thousands of dollars that people have lost,” Herdrick said.

With so many legitimate pet adoption agencies forced online due to COVID-19, that makes spotting these scams extra tricky.

Monica Dangler with the Pima Animal Care Center says there are three tips to help determine if websites are reputable.

  1. Start your search with places you know
  2. See the puppy in person or do a real-time video chat
  3. Get their specific vaccination and other medical records

“It’s not just a general cat three months old, but it has color and breed and age,” Dangler said.

She adds while buying a pet can be emotional don’t lose sight of potential red flags.

“Have that person who isn’t going to be swayed by the cuteness of the puppy there with you and get their valued opinion,” she said.

Herdrick agrees, don’t be blinded by puppy love.

“You fall in love with that puppy that you see online and you kind of stop thinking rationally and you think, ‘Oh, it’s weird they want me to pay with a gift card but that puppy’s so cute,’” he said.

Dangler says if you’re looking for a specific pet there are some websites like Pet Finder where you can enter exactly what you’re looking for and they’ll notify you when a reputable seller in your area has that pet.

You can also contact PACC for more tips.

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