The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Attorney General's Office have jointly issued a warning to residents about an increase in puppy scams in the state.

Due to the pandemic, and being forced to quarantine, pet adoption has been on the rise since. However, scammers are taking advantage of other's kindness. More people have turned to looking for their next fur baby online and the AG's office has received several complaints of scams.

Several Michiganders have recently been tricked into paying for pets that do not exist. Due to these thieves often being outside the United States, the prospects of getting money back are extremely low.

Complaints include not getting in-person visits and demanding additional fees for things such as shipment, COVID vaccine/medication, and COVID insurance. This is commonplace of scammers to demand more once initial payment has been made.

AG Dana Nessel is highly encouraging Michiganders to be wary and do their research when it comes to buying or adopting a pet. Basically, do your homework first to make sure the breeder/ pet store/online store is legit. Also, we may still be in the middle of a pandemic but you should never pay for an animal before meeting them in person first. Safety guidelines can be taken into place upon meeting.

Additional tips to keep in mind include:

  • Research the puppy(s)
  • Arrange safe transport of the puppy if it will be shipping from long distance
  • Use a credit card to make a purchase -- avoid wire transfers, gift cards, or money apps (Venmo, CashApp, etc) since these methods cannot be traced & refund is unlikely.
  • Save all documents and communication (texts, messages, e-mails) with the purchaser  such as receipts, screenshot of the website, contracts, registration info, etc.
  • Avoid pet stores since most of the puppies come from puppy mills. According to the AG's Office, "Michigan is one of the top states for the number of complaints received about puppies purchased from pet stores."

In the last two years there were 50 complaints of puppy scams. 26 of those are from this year alone.

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