Saturday, February 12, 2011

Buying A Pet Online Is Risky Business

Currently, internet classified giant Kijiji has, in Toronto alone, roughly 1000 cat and 3000 dog advertisements. Many of the advertisers list themselves as breeders, while others give next to no information at all (besides astronomical prices). Naturally, thousands flock to internet classifieds every day, hoping to acquire a new family member and finding a "deal", as they are unable to afford the cost of many pets available at breeders. To those individuals, I can't not stress enough the time tested adage, "BUYER BEWARE"!

The list of horror stories from individuals who have bought their pets through Kijiji (and other internet classified sites) is endless. Take for instance the story of Catherine Rogi, a woman who had a puppy thrust upon her by eager Kijiji sellers, and who was naive enough to not do sufficient investigating into the puppy's circumstances. The result? A physically ill puppy with a less than desirable temperment. Again in Calgary, just last week a woman met with a kijiji seller in a parking lot of all places, and adopted a small Bishon puppy. The puppy was wearing a coat, and by the time the woman removed the coat (long after the seller had disappeared), signs of long term negligence and abuse were clearly visible. It is believed that an individual originally adopted the puppy (along with another) from a woman who could no longer look after him. That individual then turned to kijiji to sell the dog for a profit (and evidently got away with this in a parking lot). The latter story resulted in the Calgary Humane Society issuing a warning to individuals looking to purchase or adopt online.

Horror stories such as this are not one sided, as those who take to web classifieds to either sell or rehome their pets are often also at risk. Questions abound with regard to the motivation of many online purchasers, from accusations of dogs being bought with intention of fighting, to smaller pets, even kittens, being purchased with the intention of feeding them to snakes. The bottom line is, unless you have done substantial homework, you are unlikely to know the true circumstances surrounding a kijiji pet transaction.

For those still intent on using internet sites to adopt or purchase a new pet, here are some tips :

-If an advertiser is presenting themselves as a breeder, check credentials. Do they have a website? Are they registered with the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) or AKC? Ask for at least two references from people the seller has already sold a pet to.

-If the pet is being rehomed, engage in a highly detailed discussion of the circumstances. Is the animal sick? Has it ever shown signs of aggression? How many homes has this pet lived in? Again, beware of receiving false information.

-If the pet is being sold through a rescue, you should receive veterinary papers stating that the pet is up to date with all vaccinations. Check with the vet as well. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

If you feel anything is suspect, it's your duty to call the authorities.

-If you are wary of the truthfulness of any of the above answers, ask to visit the pet at the home of the seller, and take a friend or family member with you. No well intentioned seller should have a problem with you visiting their place of residence to greet a prospective pet. Conversely, if you are selling an animal, ensure to get references from your purchaser. If they are serious about buying or adopting an animal, they will most likely answer any questions you may have. Again, have someone with you when you meet them.

-Never, EVER give out your personal information unless you are absolutely sure that you have obtained enough information to engage with a prospective buyer or seller.

If anyone has anything to add, please comment, and always remember that there are so many needy rescue groups and shelters that are always looking to rehome pets.

"Why shop when you can adopt?"