The rise in pandemic puppy problems

By in Opinions

Have you looked for a dog in the past few months? Having been forced to become a homebody with a love for animals, I went looking for a furry friend. Unfortunately, scammers have caught on and unless you are careful, you may fall victim to their traps. 

I was one of the unlucky ones who thought I found the perfect pooch not once, but twice. 

The first case seemed too good to be true. A man was moving to the United States and couldn’t take his two Yorkshire terriers. They were placed for free on Kijiji, which made me question the legitimacy of the ad, but I decided to inquire anyways. 

Eventually he changed his story a few too many times and added an unnecessary backstory about his wife who has Alzheimers moving to a special unit from Saskatchewan to Florida. 

As someone with a grandmother suffering from Alzheimers, I know that it does not require special hospitalization and treatment in other countries. 

The scary thing is, he wanted to meet up with me. Normally this would be a good idea, but after realizing it was a scam, I was worried about what his true intentions were. 

If you thought the first story had problems, my second experience seemed perfect. The owner had a real website that had been up since 2010. They had customer reviews, photos, forms and more — just like a real breeder would have. 

After settling on the perfect puppy, they asked for a deposit to hold the dog and I sent over $300. But my bank called me within the hour, letting me know the transaction had been cancelled because the money was not transferred to a legitimate email. After letting the “breeder” know that the money failed to deliver, they asked if I could pay in another form — gift cards. That is when I realized it was all a scam. 

I’m not alone in falling victim to these kinds of scam. Canadians have lost $300,000 to fake breeders between March and October this year — which is double the amount scammed in 2019. What’s worse is that most targeted people lose money,  the average being $700. 

How can you make sure you are finding the perfect pooch and not a scammer? 

Watch out for low prices because purebred dogs are usually not under $1,000. Try to adopt from local shelters as much as possible — you will find a real dog and also give a loving home to one that may have a sad past.

Do not get your dog shipped. You should always meet your dog prior to purchasing to ensure they are the right fit for you and to make sure that it is a legitimate transaction. Oftentimes, scammers will pretend that you need to put a “refundable” deposit on a special temperature-controlled crate. Don’t fall for this — it’s just another way to scam you out of even more money. 

Ensure the breeder is certified by The Canadian Kennel Club as the right qualifications are everything. Ask for references just like you would for a job or house, and then make sure to follow up with the references with meaningful questions.

If a photo seems too good to be true, drag it into the reverse image search on Google. Sometimes you may find that the perfect dog does exist, but they are not for sale. They may end up being a celebrity’s dog, a show dog or just a cute dog photo off of Instagram.

All of us could use a new furry friend — especially during these uncertain times. But be careful  and follow these important guidelines to save you some grief, frustration and loss of money.

In the end, I’m lucky to have found my perfect pooch. He will be joining me at the end of November, and the breeder was phenomenal. I can not wait for Ducky to become a part of my little family.

Attached are photos of Hope’s soon to be puppy Ducky; named after Ducky from The Land Before Time.

Hope N.S. Jeffery

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk