Michigan AG warns of puppy scams amid pandemic

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LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Humane Society of the United States are seeing an increase in puppy scam complaints and are warning consumers to be cautious.

The Attorney General’s office and the Humane Society say many people are adopting furry friends online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and scammers are taking advantage of the situation.

Sometimes, scammers are tricking consumers into paying for pets that don’t exist. Since many of the scammers are outside of the United States, the AG’s office says it is difficult to get money back.

“While many people may be eager to bring home a puppy during this time, I urge Michiganders to be vigilant in their search to avoid being scammed,” Nessel said. “My office continues to prioritize protecting residents from predatory and deceptive business practices, and these puppy scams will ultimately result in heartbreak and financial loss. Always do your homework before making any purchase online to avoid being taken advantage of.”  

Officials say scammers are also using the pandemic as a way to avoid in-person visits and are demanding more fees.

“Taking advantage of Michiganders by exploiting our love of animals is as cruel to the people as it is to the dogs. We are very grateful to General Nessel’s office for taking this issue seriously,” Molly Tamulevich, Michigan director for the Humane Society, said in a statement.

The AG’s office is also warning of other scams such as puppy mills. Puppy mills keep dogs in overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. Scammers often hide the dog’s living condition by meeting buyers at an off-site location, selling through pet stores and online.

The AG’s office has provided tips when looking to buy a puppy:

  • Research the breed 
  • Research the breeder 
  • Research the advertised puppy 
  • Do not purchase a puppy sight-unseen 
  • Use a credit card to make the purchase
  • Retain all documents and communications from the breeder
  • Consider contacting your local shelter

Consumer complaints can be filed with the AG’s office online.

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