Scams to be Aware of as a Dog Owner

We are a dog loving nation and world. Because the mention or photos of dogs tug on our heartstrings, especially the photo of a newborn puppy or a rescue dog in need of a good home, scammers have taken advantage of this sensitivity and look to profit from our vulnerabilities.

Scams take a variety of forms, targeting lost dog owners to prospective dog owners. Once you do have a dog, you also want to make sure that you are making the best decisions at home when it comes to your dog’s safety and health. Avoid scam-like situations like not knowing the toxins that can be in your very bedroom.

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Pet Adoption Scams

The number one dog-related scam in the world has to do with online pet adoptions. Scammers take advantage of a dog lovers’ sensitivities, posting cute pictures of an adorable puppy for sale, even if they just pulled the picture from another website online. Be aware of these false ads - scammers will take your money and never deliver the pet.

According to the Better Business Bureau, tens of thousands of people in the US and around the world have already been victims, where each victim can lose up to thousands of dollars and never receive a dog. Beware: there could be hundreds or thousands of fake pet adoption websites that intentionally resemble legitimate breeder websites.

According to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) there are three basic steps of a typical online pet scam:

1. Often people shopping online for a dog are looking for a great price that is affordable to them. The search terms can often include something like “free/ cheap pets for sale or puppies for sale.”

2. The seller often offers the pet for free; however, they ask for payment to reimburse for shipping the pet to the buyer. There is often a sob story for why they have to give their pet away - like a new apartment or home doesn’t allow for pets or their child passed away. Don’t be fooled!

3. Once the buyer has committed to the sale and has paid money to the seller, it is common then once the buyer has his or her heart set on this dog for the seller to ask for money to cover unanticipated expenses. Like IPATA says, they can claim that the airline is requiring a temperature-controlled crate or shipping insurance. If you don’t pay, then the seller can become threatening to you or the fictitious pet.

Scammers not only target dog lovers wanting a puppy - they also target dog lovers wanting to rescue an older dog. They follow the same steps as outlined by IPATA and even say if you don’t pay up, that this dog will have to be euthanized! The good news is that there are several active steps and measures you can take to protect yourself when purchasing a dog online. Also, consider the advice on online pet adoption provided on

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Lost Pet Scams

It is sad but true that scammers even profit from and take advantage of the worst of situations, like when a person’s dog goes missing. Just remember that scammers play on your emotions and your worst fears in order to take your money.

A common method is for a scammer to ask for the money up front before handing over the dog. If you refuse, they threaten to hurt or kill the dog, even if they never had the dog, to begin with. Someone can also claim to be a truck driver who found your dog on his or her route, where you just have to pay the shipping charges up front before they will send your dog to you.

Scammers are even so clever to do a tag team style, where one person calls you, gets all the info about the dog, says they don’t have your dog, but then they pass all the details about your dog to their partner in crime, who then contacts you and tells you they have your dog.

See tips on how to safely post a lost dog notice and best practices when someone calls you claiming to have your pet. There are a host of scammer scenarios that can occur after you post a lost dog notice. Be aware of scammer tactics so you can protect yourself and your pet.


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Toxins in Your Home Environment

Once your dog has made it home or has a new home with you, you want to make sure you are aware of what manufacturers are putting into your most vital home products. The mislabeling of ‘green products’ and the wide, mostly unregulated interpretation of what ‘organic’ really means poses a serious health issue to you and your family as a consumer. You need to research and look carefully at the ingredients of a product, regardless of whether it says ‘organic’ or not.

A great number of dog lovers share their bed with their dog, which is the true sanctuary of any home. Did you know we spend one-third of our lives on our mattress? What you may not know is that the production of many mattresses is not regulated in terms of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, flame retardants, and even arsenic. Other chemicals used by mattress manufacturers are carcinogens, like boric acid, vinylidene chloride, zinc borate, melamine, and decabromodiphenyl oxide.

For the safety of your family and your pets, who all may share your bed with you, there are active steps you can take as a consumer, including non-toxic bed options. Transform your bedroom into a safe haven by choosing a new mattress that you’ve done proper research on. Dig into the reviews to see what third-party reviewers have to say. You can even check with the manufacturer or store for what chemicals could be present in your mattress.

Overall, being aware of scams and misrepresentation of household products is best for you and your family, especially as dog lovers. Knowing the strategies of scammers and what to do if you think you are being scammed helps you guard your vulnerabilities and be smart about tactics to deceive you as a dog lover and also as a household consumer.

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Author’s bio:

Laurie Larson is a freelance writer from Durham, NC.

When she isn’t busy writing, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her two pups Cooper and Benny.