On Your Side Alert: Lost Pet Scam

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) –  Crooks are betting that you will lose your pet. It's called the lost pet scam. We've all seen these signs, grief stricken pet owners hoping to reunite with their pets. The problem, crooks see them too.

Sarah Clinton, with Richmond Animal League says, "If somebody is calling you and asking you for money in return for your pet, that is a big red flag. "Most people are pet lovers and the idea of reunited a lost pet with an owner is a feel good story and most people want to be a part of that," she says. Clinton says crooks are preying on your emotions.

She says, "I've got two dogs myself and I can't imagine the stress of not knowing that they were safe or not knowing where they were." If you get a call, here is what a crook may say, "I am two states over and if you send me 800 bucks, I will put him on a train and send him back to you. Two weeks later you never see your pet. It's just a scam. People are preying on people in the unfortunate situation of losing their pet.'

If you put up a sign, experts say limit what you share. Keep some things private, it can help determine if the caller really has your pet. Clinton says crooks know you're desperate so never wire money.

If your pet goes missing, the first thing you should do is call Animal Control. One good way to prevent this scam is to do everything you can to make sure pet doesn't get lost. "Make sure you regularly check your fences and your home. Make sure you don't leave windows open as the weather gets nice, your pets, during the day, may break through the screen," Clinton says.

A good idea, if you haven't done it, have your pet implanted with a micro-chip. The implant is about the size of grain of rice and it will only cost you about 20 bucks. Many vets offices and rescue groups have scanners that can read the chips. Clinton says, "Just for the piece of mind, 20 dollars to sleep fine at night, to know that if your pet does get lost or picked up as a stray, they can call you immediately. If they lose their collar, they will still have that micro-chip implanted. It's a small investment that could prevent big heartache.

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