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Michigan Attorney General warn residents of rise in puppy scams

Always ask to meet your new pet before you buy it
Michigan Attorney General warns residents of rise in puppy scams
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 7:54 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Attorney General Dana Nessel visited the Capital Area Humane Society for her latest consumer protection alert Wednesday.

The focus of the alert was puppy and pet scams.

In a video released on the same day, Nessel warns Michiganders about the rise in dog adoption scams.

“While we saw a spike in pet adoptions and purchases at the beginning of the pandemic, the possibility of bad actors looking to scam pet lovers remains a concern at all times,” Nessel said. “It remains imperative that future pet owners do their research before committing to anything. And if you think you encountered a scam, contact my Consumer Protection Team right away.”

The Attorney General’s Office said consumers should be on alert for deceptive practices regardless of how a puppy is sold.

Nessel gave the following advice for those looking to adopt a dog:

  • Research the breed -- Take the time to understand ideal breeding conditions, common health issues and their average selling price if you’re looking at different breeders.
  • Research the breeder -- Conduct a thorough internet search of the breeder from whom you intend to purchase the puppy. You should also search the email address that is advertised on the breeder’s website or that the breeder uses to contact you, as scammers often use the same email address across multiple websites. Finally, if the breeder’s website contains testimonials, conduct an internet search of the text of the testimonial. If the same or similar text appears on other websites, the breeder is likely a scammer.
  • Do not purchase a puppy sight-unseen -- If you are unable to do so, request that the breeder video chat with you or send you a photo or video with your name and the date written on a piece of paper next to the puppy. Be sure to do this before making any sort of deposit. In addition, request to see the premises and the mother. Avoid breeders who offer to meet you at a “convenient” public location and will not allow you to see where the animals are kept.
  • Use a credit card to make the purchase -- Avoid wiring money, sending gift cards or sending money using apps such as Venmo, Zelle or CashApp, as such transactions cannot be refunded and are not traceable. Use a credit card to the extent possible, which will allow you to dispute a purchase.
  • Retain all documents and communications from the breeder -- In the event you must document fraud, be sure to retain all records of the sale, including screenshots of the original advertisement, written communications and any other paperwork associated with the breeder.
  • Consider contacting your local shelter -- Most shelters are looking for adopters or fosters to prevent overcrowding and to relieve stress on the animals. Many animals at the shelter are immediately available for adoption. Shelters also may be able to offer references to reputable local rescues or breeders.

Related: Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter looking for foster families

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