Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content

If you’ve been thinking about adding a pet to your family, now may be a good time. In addition to pets offering unconditional love, companionship, and amusement, studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets has health benefits. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.

Finding a pet may be a little different during the pandemic. While many shelters, rescue leagues and breeders are closed for in-person visits, many are still posting photos and videos of available animals, and hosting online meet-and-greets. But like any major decision, it pays to do your homework — especially because scammers are trying to take advantage of the situation.

If you’re looking for a new pet, here are a few tips to keep in mind: 

  • Work with a reputable animal shelter or rescue league that is local. Most legitimate shelters and rescue leagues post their adoption fees online and they won’t ask you to pay additional unexpected fees. If you stick with a local organization, you may not have to pay until you pick up your new pet. The Humane Society of the United States can refer you to local shelters.
  • Do your homework when buying a pet. Research prices for the breed you’re interested in buying. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, that’s likely to be a scam. Get detailed information about the seller, including the person or company’s full name, phone number and postal address. Then research the seller online. See what other people are saying about their experiences. Are there complaints? Does the word “scam” pop up? The Humane Society also has tips for finding a reputable breeder.
  • Search online for the animal’s image. Scammers often use the same photos again and again. If the image of your cute pup or adorable kitten shows up on multiple sites, it’s a pretty good bet you’ve stumbled onto a scam.
  • Don’t pay with a gift card or wire money. A sure sign of a scam is someone who insists you pay by gift card or wire transfer. Gift cards and money transfers are similar to sending cash – once you send it, it is almost impossible to get it back. Instead, pay by credit card. That way, if there’s a problem, your card issuer may be able to help.

If you’ve spotted a pet adoption or sales scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and your State Attorney General.

Want more information on the latest scams we’re seeing? Sign up for our consumer alerts.

3 Comments


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.