Wednesday, August 08, 2012

CDC warns of Internet scams involving pets

See Holi's story below.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning U.S. citizens to beware of Internet scammers who are falsely representing themselves as CDC employees in emails.

In this scam, victims are asked to send money overseas to adopt a dog. The "importer" tells the victim that a CDC quarantine station is holding the dog and lists numerous conditions that must be met, including payment of fees, before the dog can be released.  

The CDC does not quarantine dogs, nor does it require a fee to bring them into the country.

The CDC is cautioning consumers to be aware of the potential for fraud involving the commercial trade of animals. Similar scams have been reported involving cats or monkeys. In these scams, victims respond to newspaper or Internet ads that offer animals for adoption in exchange for shipping costs.

Typically, the person offering the animal for adoption lives in another country and claims to be looking for a good home for the animal. Victims pay shipping fees up front but never receive the animal. In many cases, after funds have been sent abroad, they learn that the animal never existed or they are told that it is illegal to import certain animals (such as primates) as pets.

Tips for avoiding animal adoption scams

• Be extremely cautious of offers for animal adoptions from overseas.

• Check all references the importer provides.

• Independently verify each piece of information. For example, if the importer gives you the telephone number of the airline they are using to send the animal, look up the telephone number for that airline and call the airline to verify the shipping information provided by the importer.

• Avoid situations in which money is requested before shipment.

• Learn about federal requirements for shipping animals such as dogs, cats, and monkeys by reading "Bringing an Animal into the United States" which can be found at

• Report scams to the Internet site or newspaper posting the classified advertisement, and consider reporting Internet fraud to federal authorities. You can do that at

• If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In addition to the proliferation of Internet pet adoption scams, the Yavapai Humane Society is reminding residents of the risks inherent in buying a pet from a pet store. As U.S. authorities continue to crack down on unscrupulous domestic breeders, the vacuum is being filled by overseas puppy mills.

There are hundreds of thousands of puppy mills around the world (over 720,000 in South Korea alone) that produce untold millions of puppies annually. Using the Internet, importers bypass federal and local government inspections and avoid importation requirements. Although Congress passed a law banning the importation of dogs under 6 months old for resale, there is no serious enforcement of that law.

With rare exceptions, when you buy a puppy from a pet store you are just as likely to be supporting a cruel puppy mill as you would be supporting an illegal drug cartel should you purchase drugs from a pusher on the street.

Local and international puppy mill scams will continue until people stop buying their pets. Putting these scoundrels out of business should be the goal of every animal lover. In the quad-city area your best bet is don't shop, adopt from the Yavapai Humane Society where you will always find a wide selection of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs - including purebreds - just waiting for that special home: yours.

Note: Reigning Cats & Dogs Gala tickets and Taos raffle tickets are available on-line. You are especially invited to participate in the Yavapai Humane Society's 40th anniversary celebration!

The dog in the photo above is Holli, a 2-year-old female dachshund rescued by YHS. Weighing in at 12 pounds, she is sweet and social with all people and likes nothing more than to sit on your lap or be held. She would probably be okay around other polite dogs her size. There is considerable interest in Holli, who will be available for adoption by silent auction at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at YHS, 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.