I received a press release this morning from the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA). It contained some common-sense advice and some information that I had never considered.
People look for the best deal, even when purchasing a pet for their family. Holiday-time is not the best time to purchase an animal as a new family member. The excitement, the hustle and bustle, traveling and changes in routine can be too much for a new pet. There is something heart-warming, however, about the special love between children and animals, and it is delightful to imagine the look on a child’s (or adult’s) face when they open a box to find a new puppy or kitten with a big bow around its neck. While it is definitely preferable to either purchase a pet at a reputable shop or, especially, adopt from a shelter – either a couple of months before or after the holiday season – we all know that buying pets as a gift will never really stop.
Consider the recipient’s lifestyle. Do they travel? Can they afford the vet bills and general costs associated with pets? Do you know what type of pet they really want or are you taking a wild guess? Do they really want to take on the daily work of caring for an animal? They may love critters but will they invest the time and effort for the next 10 to 20 years to ensure their safety and well-being as a member of the family? Are there allergies or do they have room for the pet as it grows? Do they have the patience to put up with puppies or kittens,or the emotional stamina to say goodbye to this pet should the need arise?
If the answer to all these questions is “yes,” then consider your local shelter or ask friends, co-workers or neighbors before going to the Internet as a source. Do not buy from Craigslist or other similar sources, since scams abound, and do not be taken in by good “deals” that could cost you security, your savings or other heartbreak before or after the transaction is completed. Don’t be taken in.
Please take note of the following press release (it refers to dogs, but is applicable for all animals) and beware:
“From the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association —
Thinking of getting a puppy for your children this holiday season? Just be careful. Beware of pet scams and review the tips below from the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), the non-profit, worldwide trade association for professional pet shippers, before sending any money.
“For those families who have found an animal over the Internet, be cautious. I have seen hundreds of scams and advise families to educate themselves on how scammers operate so they won’t be their next victim,” says IPATA President Manuel Leunda. “Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Many scams begin with an advertisement – an adorable puppy or an exotic animal at half the cost. The scammer’s only request payment for the inexpensive shipping fees, usually by Western Union or MoneyGram, before the animal can be shipped. But additional costs will soon follow – extra shipping costs, customs clearance fees, vaccinations and insurance. Once the money is sent, the person learns there is no animal.
Scammers are luring pet lovers out of thousands of dollars with photos of cute animals, heart-breaking stories and irresistible prices. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if it is a scam, until it is too late.
Leunda continues, “Scammers can be located anywhere in the world, so don’t be reassured if the person who emails back says they are local. Often you will find out later in the process that the animal is located somewhere else and that’s why they need the extra fees. If you can, try to adopt an animal closer to home so you can meet the animal and the person you are doing business with.”
Here are 5 tips that can help you identify a possible pet scam:
1. Always insist that the seller enter into a formal contract. The document should detail the method of transportation, timeframe, the airline of carriage, all associated costs, and copy of the health certificate.
2. Check references. If the seller indicates that a specific company will handle the shipping, get complete details for the shipping company and then check them out! Use Google to research them and call them to confirm that they know the breeder.
3. Check affiliations. In order to convey authenticity, scammers may claim to be a member of IPATA. If this is the case, simply look up their company name in the IPATA member directory (click on “Find a Pet Shipper”). If they are not in the directory, they are not a member.
4. There is no such thing as “refundable insurance”. Scammers will try to charge for “refundable insurance” in case the pet is lost or hurt during the trip overseas. As everyone knows, there are no refunds when it comes to insurance!
5. Most importantly – Be wary of sending funds by wire. Scammers will say this is the most inexpensive and fastest way of doing business. Most reputable dealers will request that you wire transfer funds to their company bank account or will accept a credit card or PayPal payment.”