Is Your New Fur Baby Real? 6 Signs of Pet Scams South Africa

Keep your ears pricked: warning signs of pet scams South Africa.

Buying (or preferably adopting) a puppy or kitten or any pet for that matter is one of the most exciting things you can do for yourself and your family. It’s a new chapter where you know you are going to create a lifetime of memories and gain a loyal, special member of the fam.

That’s why it breaks our hearts when we hear of people taking advantage of people looking for pets, and the sad truth is that there is no shortage of pet scams South Africa. We know that the world is full of con artists and scammers – unfortunately, it is just the way that some people make their money. We know that they exist and that’s where we have the upper hand: we can look out for signs!

Read this: Preparing to Adopt a Pet: Before & After Bringing Them Home

Signs of Pet Scams South Africa

1.     There isn’t enough information on the animal

The selling of pets online has created a breeding ground for scammers. Using classified sites (which we wouldn’t recommend using when buying a puppy or a kitten) means that scammers can post images with very little detail.

A legitimate breeder should be able to provide you with very detailed information about your future pet – like their health history, their D.O.B and specific breed profile. A breeder should be able to provide ALL of the relevant documents that you need. Registration papers, vaccination dates, de-worming and their infant veterinary exam papers.

If you are purchasing a purebred, you should be able to request and receive the registration papers for the parents of your baby pet.

2.     The price is too good

Listen, buying a new pet can be expensive. Especially if you are considering buying a pedigree pet. For example, a French Bulldog puppy can cost anywhere between R20 000 and R70 000! Now imagine getting scammed out of that amount of money. This is why you should have a good idea of the market price for the pet you’re hoping to buy.

Check verified pet sites and Facebook groups to see where the standard price tag sits. Scammers may try to push a higher price by claiming that the pet for sale is purebred and meets all the requirements to be classified as a ‘show pet’. These are easy claims to make but they cannot be taken as the truth unless all the legal papers are provided to you.

(Speaking of prices, don’t forget to make sure your new fur baby’s health is insured by a trustworthy provider – we highly recommend checking out Oneplan Pet Insurance)

3.     The pictures don’t look realistic

Scammers will take photos from the internet and try to pass those pictures off as their own. Even smarter scammers will approach legitimate breeders under the guise of being potential buyers, request pictures of their puppies and use them then to scam other people.

This is where the internet is your friend. If you’ve never done a reverse image search, now is the time to learn! If you are a Google user, you simply click the camera icon in the search bar. You then upload the image the breeder sent you and your search engine will show you where the picture originally came from.

Discover: Pet Insurance for Kittens: 5 Reasons It’s a Must-Have

4.     Limited information sought about the adopter

Or too much! The number one priority for somebody who is selling a pet is that they are selling them to a family who will love and care for them. They want to know about your home life, your past pet experience and why you think you will be a good fit for their animal. If a breeder isn’t asking you these questions, consider it a red flag.

On the other hand, a breeder requesting too much information about you too soon is also something to look out for. Be wary of filling out application forms with your address, cell phone number and other personal details. Somebody could then vanish into thin air whilst still knowing where you live. Scary!

5.     Limited in-person contact

Today’s times have made it more common for less face-to-face contact. However, it really is important that you schedule a time to see your potential pet in person. If you are having doubts, ask the breeder for a meeting via FaceTime or video call – this way you can see if there actually is a litter and the conditions in which they are living.

Your breeder should be used to people visiting their home to see pets, so be wary of anybody who asks to see you or meet you in a public place instead of at their home. Also never let anybody bring the pet to your home.

6.     Sketchy payment plan

Is your breeder asking for an immediate payment? A hefty deposit? A wire transfer? All of these are warning signs that you may be getting scammed. If you need to pay a deposit, which is normal for most breeders, arrange that the deposit is dropped off in cash.

This way, you can also see the pet when they are young. Use the deposit stage of your pet purchase to draw up a contract with the breeder. If they refuse to be involved in a contract, that’s not a good sign.

With these signs in mind, we wish you all the best in finding the perfect pet to bring into your home.

Read next: 5 of the Best Dog Breeds for Kids

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Team