CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased demand for pets, as people are seeking to add a pet to the family to ease the loneliness and tension of prolonged time at home.
Many believe that they now have more time to train a puppy. This rising demand has resulted in a spike in pet scams, in which an online search ends with a would-be pet owner paying hundreds of dollars or more to purchase a pet that ultimately doesn't exist.
Katie Galan with the Better Business Bureau says, "So the Puppy Scam was a scam that became really popular when the pandemic began and the reason for that is people are at home, they're lonely and with all these restrictions it was a time when people were looking to purchase animals. And now with the holiday season, people are always looking to gift pets."
Scammers are taking advantage of pet lovers, especially during the holidays.
Galan says, "You see a puppy online that you like and you start communicating with the seller. They typically have one fee and then all of a sudden they start tacking on other fees on top of that. They want to start charging you a fee for a crate because of COVID or a fee for the COVID vaccine which we know doesn't exist because it doesn't exist for humans. Just different fees that they tack on. People end up paying it and never get the pet."
Galan provides some advice for those looking to add a furry loved one to their family.
"I really urge you to go see that pet in person," she said. "A Zoom call is good, but it's important to see them in person. Another option for people looking to buy pets is our local animal shelters. We have lots of shelters around the area. And you know they have all the proper paperwork and vaccinations. so you know exactly what you're getting. So that's another option for people looking to buy pets during the holiday season."
To find out more information about scams in your area or to find out more about a business you have questions about go to bbb.org and do your research so you don't get taken advantage of.