Few experiences are as devastating as losing your pet. Each year, it is estimated that six to eight million pets arrive at animal shelters –and many are lost dogs and cats. According to HomeAgain, one in three pets will become lost during its lifetime. And according to the National Council on Pet Population, Study and Policy, less than 2 percent of lost cats and 20 percent of lost dogs are ever returned to their owners. Most who find their way home do so because they had tags or microchips.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people see the emotional fragility of those dealing with the loss of a pet as a moneymaking opportunity. If your beloved companion gets lost, beware of the following scams perpetrated by these heartless criminals.
"Pay me first" You may receive a phone call from someone claiming to have your lost pet. They demand that you pay the reward money before they return the animal. If you refuse, they may threaten to harm your pet in some way. Once you’ve sent the money, you never hear from them again.
"I’m a truck driver" You may receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a truck driver who has discovered your lost pet. They ask you to send money so they can ship the pet back to you. Often the request is for wired funds, including enough to board the pet until it can be returned. Once funds are sent, the individual is never heard from again.
"Buy an airline ticket" You may receive a call from someone claiming to have found your pet in another state. They ask for kennel money as well as funds to purchase an airline ticket to send your pet home to you. Once you’ve sent the money, they walk away and are never heard from again.
You can reduce your chances of becoming the victim of one of these lost pet scams by getting as much information as possible from the person making the call. Ask for a number where you can call them back. If they refuse to provide one, they’re obviously not legitimate. If they claim to be from out of state, check the area code on the number they give you. If they claim to have your pet in their possession, ask them to text or email you a picture. If your pet has been microchipped, ask the individual to take the pet to a local veterinary clinic where the chip can be scanned and confirmed.
Did your pet ever get lost? Share the story of your reunion in the comments!