The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways, with many people working from home, and others who may have lost their jobs now spending more time at home as well. Having a pet can provide companionship, be an aid in encouraging regular exercise and can also help with maintaining routines during this uncertain time.
However, with the increase in the number of people seeking out a new canine companion to help them cope with the isolation and anxiety related to the pandemic, there has unfortunately been a rise in the number of scams related to purchasing puppies during the pandemic.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reported that Australian’s have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to puppy scams this year, and in April alone, Scamwatch reported a spike in puppy scams almost five times higher than the average.
Using the pandemic as a backdrop, scammers have set up fake websites and online advertisements pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds, whilst asking for upfront payments to secure puppy purchases, and taking advantage of the fact that prospective pet owners are unable to travel to meet a potential new puppy in person due to the travel restrictions which have been in place because of the pandemic.
“Once you have paid the initial deposit, the scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, and scammers are now using the COVID-19 pandemic to claim higher transportation costs to get across closed interstate borders or additional fees for ‘coronavirus treatments’. The safest option is to only buy or adopt a pet you can meet in person and if you cannot do that during the current lockdown restrictions, consider putting the search on hold”, said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
If you are on the hunt for a new pet, it pays to research both the type of breed you may be considering as a pet, and to also seek out reputable breeders and pet adoption organisations to purchase from. Impulse buying of a puppy or other pet can lead to problems later on if you haven’t considered the long term implications and requirements of keeping a pet.
There are a number of things to consider when looking to buy a new pet, including cost, time commitment, grooming and care requirements, if your home and lifestyle are suitable for the particular breed, and whether your household includes children, allergy sufferers or other existing pets.
Veterinarians can also provide advice on what type of pet may suit your circumstances, along with highlighting potential health issues to be aware of with particular dog breeds. If you have recently purchased a new pet, it is important to also help your pet to adapt to changes such as when you may be returning to work out of the house, otherwise health issues such as separation anxiety may become evident in the pet.
Pet scams are unfortunately an all too common occurrence, so if you’re looking for a new puppy or other pet - remember to do your research, seek advice from your veterinarian, and if you think you may have been the victim of a scam, then check out the Scamwatch website for further guidance and information.