Consumers should beware of puppy sales in pet stores and internet scamsA human world

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Pet stores, including physical stores and those that sell animals on the internet, are very likely to source animals from puppy mills, which keep dogs in terrible conditions and mistreat them. Photo from iStock.com

When Larissa Brown bought a border collie, CeCe, from Petland in Monroeville, Pa., She hoped her beloved new dog would be an emotional support animal. She had no idea of ​​the stressful days ahead.

Larissa says Petland employees told her that while it was possible for one of their puppies to have a kennel cough or other highly contagious illness, CeCe herself was currently not showing any symptoms. But veterinary records showed CeCe had been treated with antibiotics for weeks. Shortly after CeCe came home, she fell very ill. Larissa had to take her immediately to the emergency hospital where she was diagnosed with not only severe kennel cough, but also pneumonia. CeCe spent three days in the hospital where she was placed in an oxygen tank to help her breathe.

CeCe eventually recovered, but not without permanent damage to her health: her lungs are now partially collapsed. She also shouldn’t live past her second birthday. And after all of the trauma that Larissa suffered with her beloved dog, she ended up with vet bills of over $ 8,000. Petland told him the vet visits were not covered by the company’s warranty.

Larissa and CeCe’s story is a timely reminder, during National Consumer Protection Week observed this week, that puppy scams remain a significant problem and consumers should exercise caution and vigilance when it comes to puppyhood scams. they decide to bring a pet home. This is especially true if they end up frequenting pet stores and scammers who profit from the suffering of animals.

A 2017 survey released by the Better Business Bureau estimated that tens of thousands of consumers in the United States and around the world may have fallen victim to a puppy scam, with many shoppers losing thousands of dollars. The report encourages aggressive law enforcement and increased consumer education to combat these scams.

In many of these cases, consumers are being scammed for money on the Internet by bad faith actors who never really had a puppy to send. In other cases where the consumer receives a pet, the seller has not been honest about its age, breed or state of health. Most importantly, pet stores, whether they are physical stores or selling animals on the internet, are very likely to source animals from puppy mills, which keep dogs in terrible conditions and mistreat them. .

The Humane Society of the United States is working on many levels to end this exploitation of animals and the consumers who may choose to buy them. Through our investigations of eight Petland stores across the country, we revealed gross negligence, cruel treatment, lack of veterinary care and chronic health issues documented among the animals sold, none of which have been disclosed to consumers. who bought pets from stores. We are also working with lawmakers and local authorities to create laws cutting the pipeline to puppy mills and pet stores that is responsible for so much suffering.

Additionally, our Law Enforcement Training Center strives to train staff in state attorney general offices to help them better protect consumers from fraudulent sales of puppies. Trainings review applicable laws and regulations, the most common deceptive practices used by puppy sellers or puppy scammers, and provide tips on how to navigate fraud reports and ways to increase awareness.

Our first collaboration with Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office in Pennsylvania was widely celebrated by voters and led to the creation of a pet fraudulent email address that consumers and victims of fraud can write to with their complaints. Last year we teamed up with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office in Michigan, and just months after training, the office filed its first lawsuit against an unscrupulous commercial breeding facility that sold sick puppies to pet stores. and consumers.

If you are a consumer, please read our tips on how to avoid falling victim to an unscrupulous pet store or scammer. Puppies bought by these sellers may not really exist, or even if they do exist, they are often shipped by breeders miles away, separated from their mothers much sooner than they should be. , and do not receive proper veterinary care or socialization. Keep an eye out for misleading advertising (signs such as “No Puppy Mills!” Or “AKC Registered”) as well as inappropriate documentation (lack of required documents or minimal information about the puppy’s source).

Petland has a variety of loan practices that appear to target low income consumers with payment plans that involve very high interest rates. The Petland credit card, for example, has an interest rate of 29.99%. People who bought sick puppies from Petland stores provided documents showing they had to waive their right to talk about their claim, post it on the internet, or report it to the state attorney general or Better Business Bureau before you can get a refund. for veterinary bills. In some cases, Petland would not compensate consumers even after their puppies died just weeks after bringing them home.

We strongly recommend that you do not buy a puppy online, without seeing it. Internet crooks steal money from unsuspecting people who think their new pet is on its way to their new home, when in fact there has never been a pet at all. In cases where the consumer receives a puppy, the animal often becomes fatally ill soon after arriving, resulting in extraordinary vet bills and heartache for the family.

Puppy scams, like other deceptive practices, involve many layers of duplicity and deviousness. And there is an added element of animal cruelty here, which further results in unnecessary emotional and financial damage to the people who bring these animals home and love them. If you are looking for a pet, seek refuge or rescue as your first source. If you are buying a puppy from a breeder, find a responsible one and always ask to see the parents and make sure all the proper paperwork is provided. Educate yourself to make sure your money isn’t keeping those who mistreat animals in business.

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