West Virginia Attorney General Warns Against Pet Sale Scams

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging consumers to avoid disreputable pet sellers when deciding to add a furry friend to the family.

The gift of a pet appeals to all ages, which makes it likely many will find new homes this holiday season.

“Pets are like family members to many people, but anyone considering a purchase must be careful,” Morrisey said. “Make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller and verify the pet is in good health.”

Unfortunately, representations of animals bought via internet or in stores can mislead consumers as to the true nature of the pet’s health. Pictures can be falsified and animals that appear healthy can become ill shortly after purchase.

Consumers can follow these tips to ensure an issue-free purchase, according to Morrisey:

∫ Consider a gift certificate to a local animal shelter or a promise to adopt in the days following Christmas. Doing so will ease the stress of a rushed decision and allow everyone to participate in making the selection.

∫ Never purchase a pet without seeing it, especially from someone requesting an “adoption fee” or “shipping fee” via money order.

∫ When purchasing a pet from a breeder, research the breeder and visit in person and at their operation. Ask questions.

∫ Get health records and call the veterinarian to verify his or her relationship with the pet.

∫ Secure proof of purchase with the breeder’s full contact information.

∫ Be suspicious of ads that offer popular, expensive breeds for free. Scammers may pose as a shipping company or courier to charge extra “shipping” fees for the animal.

∫ Require documentation for any registered or pedigreed pet, including its registration with the appropriate kennel club.