Canadian animal rescue organizations and animal shelters have few pets available for adoption these days. Shelter in place orders left many families in a place to adopt a new pet, and an unprecedented number of animals found themselves in forever homes. Because of this, it has become increasingly difficult for Canadian citizens to find their next furry family member.
Pet-Scam Complaints Skyrocket
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has noted a massive uptick in pet-scam complaints. Across the reports, victims note that scammers usually employ high-pressure tactics, require quick deposits, and often ask for unorthodox payments (one report included payment of WalMart gift cards). Other red flags are suspiciously low prices for “purebred” puppies and mounting incidental charges after a deposit is made, such as crates, heaters, and vaccines. In 2020 over $300,000 were reported stolen in these scams, while in 2019 that total was half that– $150,000.
Dr. Cameron Clokie’s Pet Adoption Dilemma
Dr. Cameron Clokie, a Toronto Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, has experienced the trouble of trying to adopt a pandemic pet. “There are very few dogs available,” said Dr. Clokie. “Everywhere you look there are waiting lists, empty shelters, and few options. It’s no wonder those scams are becoming more prevalent.”
How to Avoid a Fraudulent Pet adoption
For those considering adopting a pet at this time, there are many ways to prevent yourself from being scammed. First, potential adopters should search for the breeder or rescue organization on who.is. Any reputable organization will have a website and a strong digital footprint. Next, photos of adoptable animals should be checked in a search engine to ensure they are not stock photos or stolen from another website. Take note if the breeder is avoidant to meet in person or seems to be evasive- especially if they cite Coronavirus concerns. Any above-board breeder or rescue will have clear communication and not seem to hide behind their keyboard.
Says Dr. Cameron Clokie, “These tips make it very easy to avoid fraud when searching for a pet. In my opinion, if people follow these guidelines I’d assume we’d see a dramatic decrease in the amount of successful pet-related scams.”
An alternative to breeders
One solution for the pet demand is the importation of animals from places overwhelmed with adoptables. For instance, Taipei’s Sindian District Animal Shelter recently sent a stray dog named Dou Dou to Canada for adoption. Dou Dou had been at the shelter in Taipei for over three years. Similarly, Eastern Ontario Potcake Rescue traveled to Barbados to rescue 200 abused, abandoned, and neglected dogs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Barbadians found it difficult to pay for their animals’ necessities, resulting in a strain on Barbados’ Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary. By bringing these animals to Canada, they will help meet the demand for pet adoptions and ensure the animals are well cared for.
While many agree that empty shelters are a good thing for Canada, this situation is sure to create an opportunity for criminal enterprises to thrive. By doing research and taking time to select a pet, you’ll surely minimize your exposure for fraud.