Consumers losing money to online puppy scams

The average loss is more than $1,000.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jun 14, 2014


Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers to be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers for puppies or other pets for sale online.

In the last two years, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 25 complaints from consumers who said they paid for a dog, cat, or other pet they found online but never received. The average loss is more than $1,000.

“Scam artists are always looking for ways to take advantage of others, and preying on people who are looking for new pets is another way to get consumers to part with their money,” DeWine said. “They’ll convince the consumer to send hundreds or thousands of dollars for a new puppy, but the puppy never arrives and the consumer is left disappointed or heartbroken.”

The scam often begins when the consumer goes online and finds an ad for a puppy. The advertised price may be lower than expected for that particular breed of dog. The seller asks the consumer to send money for shipping using a wire transfer service or prepaid money card. The consumer pays but never receives the dog and cannot recover the money.

Consumers should beware of the following red flags of a scam:

    Breeders who will communicate only online or via text message
    A low cost for a dog of a popular or expensive breed
    Sellers who ask for additional fees beyond the agreed-upon price
    Pets that are “free” to a good home
    Sellers who say they will refund the money once the puppy is delivered
    Shipping companies or couriers that keep contacting the consumer asking for more money
    Claims that there was an insufficient shipping container

To protect themselves from scams, consumers should deal with a local breeder who has a good reputation. They can check for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau, and they can seek information from animal adoption organizations. Consumers also should meet the puppy in person before sending any money.

Consumers who suspect a scam or unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or


J Cooper

The stupid act is buying a puppy from a breeder or pet shop when there are thousands of great family pets awaiting their forever home from rescues and shelters. Any pure breed is available or my favorite the All American multi culture dog, I strive to be PC..


True...but sometimes trying to adopt from a "rescue" is ridiculous. Conversation goes like this: Them: "Do you have a fenced yard?" Me: "No, but I live on a 150 acre farm on a country road". Them: "Well, sorry we aren't adopting to you. You are clearly an irresponsible pet owner."

Or, "do you have a fenced yard?" Me: "I have an underground fence." Them: "OMG! DOG ABUSER!"

Sometimes it seems like it's not worth the hassle dealing with Rescue Groups.

J Cooper

I understand your point but on a flip side, I knew a man who had two great dogs, moved into the country with a large country lot, dogs never ran loose, he intended to get a fence for them but before he could, they jumped from his truck one day after returning home with him, chased a cat into the roadway and were both killed by a passing car.


And this could also happen if you had a fenced yard...unless your fence totally encompasses your driveway....just a thought.

J Cooper

My point was that just because you have a large lot in the country that doesn't negate the need for a fence. Many rescues require a fenced yard as a condition for adoption.


And my point was that even if you do have a fence accidents can happen. For example, in your friend's case you said the dogs jumped out of his truck and ran after a cat. Unless he drives his truck into a fenced in enclosure, this still would have happened. A fenced in backyard would not have prevented it.

I just think that sometimes "rescues" miss out on adopting out dogs to good homes because of fence rules.


Planned Pethood would not allow me to adopt a dog because my husband was not with me at the time. After filling out their 22 page application (with ridiculous questions), I was told until they could speak with my husband (he was sleeping after working 3rd shift) to find out if he would ALLOW me to have a dog, they could not let me have it. I told the lady, my husband does not ALLOW me to do anything, I do what I want. He is not my owner or my boss. I am his wife, not his slave. I tore up her application and left.

J Cooper

There are thousands of rescues and shelters, the application I filled out on line was one page if you really wanted a dog


...both of our pets were rescue/shelter cases fact, our grown children adopt their critters accordingly, and have never been disapointed
...our two forever buds are cats ...we keep them inside so they don't catch lead from those who have yet to mature

Dr. Information

...on the flip side of adopting dogs from rescues and shelters, my in-laws tried this twice and both dogs had to be put down a year later. One dog was "family friendly" until it bit their child out of no where and then took off across the street and bit a kid who was riding his bike.

The second one was so skittish and they thought it would grow out of it as it became accustom to loving family and home. Nope, the dog continued to crap all over the house, pee where it wanted randomly, and literally would not stop barking. They tried everything and nothing worked. Finally, the dog killed a neighbors cat while it was on their property (the cat). The vet said put it down, its just a broken dog.


...I hear you, Doc, sometimes its not happy ever after, but if a foster owner can afford to take a chance, perhaps its worth it...

TheGravyWhisperer fact, looking back (years ago), we adopted a small cocker mix that chewed down its dog house, chewed up a metal dryer vent, anything else it could get its teeth into
...we finally had to take it to a shelter hind sight, we probably just passed on the problem; should have put him down, but when you are younger, that's a hard choise...

swiss family

like Caesar Romano says .. there are no bad dogs, just bad owners....too bad you did not understand you dog and it's needs ... you ruined a possibly good animal


...if only you had been there to gather him into your loving arms
...who knows? perhaps Caesar himself snapped him up...

cfacatteryreviews's picture

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J Cooper

When I was looking for a forever friend of the four legged variety after I lost my previous buddy of 14 years I visited numerous shelters and rescues, didn't click with many dogs until finally one picked me. The rescues checked with my vet and I signed a contract that, she must be an indoor dog, fenced yard and if for some reason I couldn't keep her I was required to return her to the rescue. The cost was $150, which included her spaying, all shots, micro chipping, heartworm preventive and flea bath, cost was less than if I took her to my own vet. Three years later she is my best friend, I would never go the commercial breeder route you never know if that cute puppy has been overbreed and what type of dog it will grow into. I'll take my mature rescue every time.. She is my third rescue or shelter dog, not every pet is a match for every owner, but when you find the right one you know it.


Most rescue groups are just after the money!
They adopt the dogs out for 250.00 and make you sign a contract stating you will return the dog if you can't keep it. So the dog goes back to them and they again sell it for 250.00!
They ask you personal questions and want to do a home inspection and "have access to every room in your home" ! Police can't even do that without a warrant but rescue groups can violate your privacy or NO Dog FOR YOU!! They claim the fees go for medical care but most get medical care done for low cost and still charge crazy fees ! They hold fund raisers and ask for money and then when they have a injured or sick dog they get on "go fund me " and collect money for the dog again! They hold "collection days " to beg for food and cleaning supplies ect!
Some rescue steal peoples pets right out of their yards to sell ! Some go to pet owners and belittle and accuse owner of all kinda of stuff and finally the owner signs over their animals ! Rescue groups buy pregnant dogs to sell the puppies ! One litter of pups can make the rescue 1500 plus ! Rescue people lie to cover for each other ! They harass people on garage sale sites and Craig's list and other internet sites ! Even saying some things are illegal ! They won't adopt if you have a child ! They won't adopt if you rent ! They won't adopt if you ever had to surrender a pet even years prior ! They play God! They wonder why people don't go to rescues! Lol
One of the rescue organizations even got on a yard sale site in huron county (when there was a line of people wanting this puppy) and told owners to call them and they wanted to take the puppy! Never mind this organization has a waiting list of animals to even get a place in the facility but the president went out and asked for the cute little puppy that's would be a easy adoption!
That's their M/O! They go "pull " from the pounds before general public gets a chance to adopt the dogs! A true rescue would go and adopt the dogs in danger of being put to sleep not fight people at the pounds to adopt the cute easy money dogs! Rescue groups aren't what they used to be! They don't care about families or the dogs they care about $$$$$$

J Cooper

Check with your vet, see how much a spay/neutering, complete physical, all shots, heartworm test and treatment if needed, micro chipping and flea bath would cost, when compared to the $150-$250 rescue fee I think you will find that barely covers those expenses. As far as fund raisers, those are used for food, shelter and upfront vet bills. Rescues and shelters don't steal pets from owners they remove pets to protect them from abuse, neglectful and ill responsible owners. The investigation of the household is hopefully to ensure that the pet is placed in a forever home that fits the needs of the animal and owners, if you think that's intrusive, don't adopt a rescue or shelter animal.

Tippythehippy's picture

Here is a or adopt from a local breeder! I dont mean just Huron county....just look around Ohio. Some things should be done in person and I feel getting a pet is one of them.

J Cooper

Breeders don't adopt dogs, they sell them for profit. The problem is some of them, not all of them overbreed and abuse the parents for personal gain with no consideration of the dogs, they are treated as a commodity, not a pet..