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The Dark Side of Pet Adoption: The Rise of Pet Sales Scams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

The Coronavirus pandemic has not only affected our daily lives but has also had a profound impact on the pet industry.

As the demand for pets skyrocketed during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, unsuspecting individuals searching for furry companions fell victim to a sinister side effect of the pandemic - pet sales scams.

In this blog, we will explore the alarming rise of pet sales scams during COVID-19, along with revealing statistics that shed light on this unfortunate trend.

1. Escalating Demand Creates the Perfect Storm:

The pandemic-induced increase in pet adoption and ownership created an ideal breeding ground for pet scammers. With limited access to shelters and breeders, many turned to online platforms in search of their new furry family members.

2. Soaring Statistics:

- According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), reports of pet-related scams tripled in 2020, with over 37,000 complaints filed.

- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported a staggering 370% increase in pet scams, with losses totaling over $3 million in 2020 alone.

3. The Anatomy of a Pet Scam:

- Fraudulent advertisements: Scammers use captivating ads featuring adorable pets at unbelievably low prices to lure unsuspecting buyers.

- Phony websites: They create professional-looking websites with fabricated testimonials, stolen images, and false information to appear legitimate.

- Payment methods: Scammers often insist on wiring money or using untraceable methods such as prepaid debit cards, making it difficult for victims to recover funds.

4. Warning Signs and Red Flags:

- Unrealistic prices: Be cautious of unbelievably low prices as scammers use them as bait to attract victims.

- Limited communication: Scammers may avoid phone calls, video chats, or in-person meetings, making excuses or giving vague explanations.

- Shipping excuses: Scammers may claim additional shipping or vaccination fees, using them as a tactic to extract more money.

5. Protecting Yourself against Pet Scams:

- Research: Thoroughly investigate the breeder or seller, search for online reviews, and verify their credibility.

- Virtual meetups: Request video calls with the seller to view the pet and its living conditions.

- Local shelters and reputable breeders: Consider adopting from reputable shelters or connecting with certified breeders with a physical presence.


While the pandemic has brought joy to many pet owners, it has also created a breeding ground for pet scammers. Understanding the rise of pet sales scams during COVID-19 is crucial to protect ourselves and our beloved pets. By being vigilant and informed, we can outsmart these scammers and ensure a safe and loving home for our furry companions.

Remember, the love and companionship of a pet are priceless, and it is our responsibility to stay cautious while bringing them into our lives. Stay alert, educate others, and together, we can put an end to pet sales scams.

(Note: The statistics provided in this blog are based on available information at the time of writing and may vary.)

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