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WV AG: Be Wary of Online Pet Scams

December 13th, 2021 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged those considering the holiday purchase of a pet to watch for deceptive offers as they choose a companion that best fits their family or situation.
Dogs, cats and other animals appeal to people of all ages, especially at this time of the year, and there is no shortage of pets that need a home. However, anyone considering such a gift must proceed with caution.
“It’s exciting to bring home a new pet and to consider all that comes with caring for a new animal companion,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It’s important, though, to watch for deceptive offers and ensure your pet comes from a reputable shelter or breeder.”
Unfortunately, representations of animals bought online or even in stores can mislead consumers as to the true nature of the pet’s health. Pictures can be falsified, and animals that appear healthy can become ill shortly after purchase. 
Consumers can follow these tips when purchasing a pet:

  • Consider a gift certificate to a local animal shelter or a promise to adopt. Doing so will ease the stress of a rushed decision and allow everyone to participate in making the selection.
  • Never purchase a pet without seeing it, especially from someone requesting an “adoption fee” or “shipping fee” via money order or wire transfer.
  • When purchasing a pet from a breeder, research the breeder and visit in person at their operation. Ask questions.
  • Get health records and verify the veterinarian’s relationship with the animal.
  • Secure proof of purchase with the breeder’s full contact information.
  • For pets purchased via transport, seek contact information for the veterinarian who provided documentation and vaccines. Also, verify the name and address of the transport company.
  • Be suspicious of ads that offer popular, expensive breeds for free. Scammers may pose as a shipping company or courier to charge extra “shipping” fees for the animal.
  • Require documentation for any registered or pedigreed pet, including its registration with the appropriate kennel club.

The advice comes as part of the Attorney General's Holiday Consumer Protection Week.

Consumers with questions regarding pet purchases can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at