How to Safely Adopt Animals Online

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Don’t buy or adopt a pet unless you can meet it in person

Ask for multiple pictures of the pet, including poses with specific items to make sure the pet is real. Fraudsters generally use pictures of real puppies from other ads or Facebook posts, and you can use Google's reverse image search to check if that photo has been posted anywhere else. Always ask to talk on the phone or video chat. Meeting in person is great whenever possible.

Don’t deal with an advertiser or seller who doesn’t provide a phone number or will communicate only by email or text

Ask for a phone number for the person selling the pet and a veterinary clinic the pet has been to. If the seller won’t give the numbers, this is probably a scam. If they do give the phone numbers, call and ask questions. However, even if someone does agree to speak over the phone, that does not indicate that it's not a scam. The only way to avoid this is through a face-to-face meeting.

Avoid internet purchases unless you can travel to meet the dog.

Don’t deal with someone who won’t take payment by credit card, which offers you far greater protection in case of fraud or dispute. Western Union and MoneyGram are the primary outlets used by fraudsters. Be aware that if you choose a non-secure method of payment, it is highly unlikely that you will get your money back.

Do research to get a sense of what a fair price is for the breed you are interested in adopting.

Think twice if they are selling a purebred dog for free or at a very low price for the breed. If the person is claiming to be a breeder, ask for breeder registration information. If they won’t give it, walk away. If they do give it, verify with the appropriate breeders’ group.

Analyze reviews and referrals

Ask for references and call them up. Ask specific questions about their dog-buying experience. If all you get are fluffy, non-specific answers, that is a red flag. If you believe that you have encountered a puppy or adult dog buying scam, please report it. Here are some of the places you can quickly do this and help stop puppy scams: BBB’s Scam Tracker Federal Trade Commission (or call 1-877-FTC-HELP) State Attorney General

Source: AKC, Find Benji

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