For many dog lovers, it’s rescue first. We gladly support our local pet rescues with donations. We’d rather adopt a dog in need than support backyard breeders or puppy mills. Yet, while most rescues are genuinely trying to find good homes for needy pets, now nearly 25 percent are hoarders or scams taking advantage of the good-hearted.
How do you know if a pet rescuer is actually a hoarder or a scammer?
- They make pet adoption almost impossible. Yes, even some established animal rescues are actually scams. Many are said rescuers of high demand pure bred dogs and cats. Many have websites with dozens of dogs that are currently being fostered by them. You see a cute French Bulldog puppy click on the link and immediately fill out the online applications with included donation. After getting no response, you follow up and get a response saying they receive hundreds of applications, but unfortunately they found a more suitable home. They encourage you to keep applying, but again and again, someone else always gets the dog. You have your heart set on adopting a French Bulldog, so you send them a email saying you’d like to make a generous donation of a dozen new dog beds. Within a few short hours you get a phone call and someone is on their way to pick them up. The next day, a woman from the rescue arrives at your home and while you’re gathering up the beds, you ask her why you’ve had so much difficulty trying to adopt. Snatching up the dog beds, the woman explains how French Bulldog not for everyone; they require special care and most people cannot afford their medical expenses, nor do they have the time, or a large enough living space. She knows this because she’s caring for 18 of them. You share how you’re more than prepared to take on the responsibility, but she’s not impressed. Don’t take it personally. This person is an animal hoarder and has no intention of letting go of these dogs. Hoarders are convinced no one can match their “superior” level of love and care they give to their animals. Don’t feel bad for being fooled; this is one of the hardest scams to recognize.
- They stage fake adoption event to solicit donations. Outdoor malls, farmers markets, or high traffic locations are opportunities for animal hoarders to attract passersby with adorable pets. Their tabletop, which prominently displays a donation jar, is surrounded by crates of adorable kittens or puppies up for adoption. A rescue representative tells you a sad story of how the kittens were left sick and abandon and now they’re trying to raise money so they can nurse them back to health and find them a new home. You gladly give them their suggested $25 cash donation and complete an adoption application. Weeks go by, but you never get a response. So, you go back to the same outdoor mall and find the same representative and confront them. Regretfully, they tell you the kittens were very sick and passed away. Now they have new kittens up for adoption, and suggest you fill out an application and make another cash donation, as they don’t accept checks. Again, they have no intention of letting go of these animals.
- Online adoption scams. You may see an ad posted on Craigslist or even a popular rescue site. The ad pictures an adorable French Bulldog puppy needing a new home and all they ask for is a minimal adoption fee. You immediately follow up with an email and then it begins. They respond by telling you the cute pup is still available and ask you to send them a small donation via Western Union. Next, they ask for more money to cover expenses and shipping costs. You quickly agree and wire them the money. Then, instead of sending the puppy, you receive another email asking for even more money to cover the cost of shots and medical expenses. You ask for their phone number so you can speak to them and the communication abruptly stops. Then it dawns on you that you’ve been scammed.
What are the red flags of pet rescue scams?
- They ask you to apply online and send money. Although many reputable pet rescues, have online applications, they should not require you to wire them ‘donation’ money in advance. Even if the pet rescue sounds familiar, they should not require this. Local animal rescues will allow you to meet with them in person.
- They won’t accept checks. Reputable charities have a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. The IRS has a Nonprofit Charities Database where you can verify that the organization is a nonprofit charity by searching their name in the database.
- They won’t allow you to meet your future pet in person. If the rescue truly wants to find a new home for their pet, they most likely will ask you to fill out a short application and ask if you’re willing to foster to adopt. This allows you to see if the pet is a suitable fit.
- They don’t host real adoption events. The main objective of reputable pet rescues is to find good homes for needy pets. They should not place unreasonable demands on anyone eager to adopt.
- They promote a tragedy to beg for money. They may share a sad stories of a dogs desperately in need of costly medical treatment. Most credible rescues will not try to capitalize on a pet’s terminal illness to solicit money; they usually have an established relationship with local veterinarians who donate a portion of their time and resources.
- They cannot provide you with references. A reputable pet rescue, not only has a website, a working phone number and 501(c)(3) status, they are transparent with who they are. They should provide you with references and information on their adoption history and finding pets new homes.
In short, hoarders and pet rescue scammers make pet adoption impossible. Their main focus is on taking your money, not on finding these pets good homes.