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Pet Scams / Helpful Tips for Pet Travel

Beware of Pet Scams 

Pets scams can happen to anyone. Learn how to spot a scam or you could be a victim!

Pet scam criminals often use free websites, Craig’s List, local newspapers, or facebook to advertise pets that do not exist.  Expensive animals, like Bulldogs or toy breeds, are offered at very low prices.  Animals are offered up for adoption at no cost—all you have to do is pay for the shipping.  If you see an ad like this, chances are it is a scam.

These scammers are criminals.  Their goal is to take your money.  They will lie, they will tell you sob stories, they will send you pictures of adorable animals, they will assure you of their faith and religion – anything to get your money!  They use the names of legitimate pet shippers; they pirate websites; they illegally use logos of other companies.  If you see an offer that is too good to be true, it probably is.  It probably is a scam!

The Scam Advertiser / Scam Shipper may…

  • Say they are giving the animal up because of a family hardship – relocation, death of the person who owned the pets, the climate is not good, etc.
  • Call the pets their “babies” and insist that they only want a loving, forever home.  They may send you a list of questions about how you will take care of the pet, if you’ve had a pet before, etc.
  • Say they will use a “courier” or “pet delivery service” but not tell you the name of the “courier”.
  • Offer the pet in one location—close to you—and then tell you that because of some situation, the animals or they are somewhere else where you cannot see them or pick them up.
  • Want payment by Western Union, MoneyGram, or a similar service.  They might tell you to lie to the Western Union agent, saying you are sending the money to a family member rather than buying something.
  • Offer to ship from an international location to your doorstep for $250 or $350. (Generally it costs more to ship a puppy internationally than it does for a person to fly; and there are other expenses—kennels, veterinarian, etc.   You can NEVER expect to pay only $250-$350 for an international shipment!)
  • Tell you they want to ship the pet within 24 hours of payment.  (This is impossible due to the time required to obtain import license and veterinary health certificates!)
  • Once you have sent payment for the shipping, there will be a problem:  the pet needs a different kind a crate; needs a health inspection; needs insurance; etc., for an additional fee.  If you don’t pay right away, they add charges for additional feeding, threaten you with legal charges for animal abandonment, etc.
  • If you have already made a payment to a scammer…
  • Stop contact with the scammer; simply ignore their email or telephone calls or block them.
  • If you are looking at an online pet purchase…                    
  • File a report with your local law enforcement and with your local FBI or equivalent office.
  • Do an online search (Bing, Google, AOL, etc.) for the email address of the advertiser.  Scammers often place ads on several free sites or locations.  If you find multiple ads, it is most likely a scam.   File a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center:   This agency is a collaborative effort among several law enforcement agencies that uses criminal email addresses and websites to track these, and hopefully, apprehend these criminals.
  •  Try to make arrangements to pick the animal up yourself, saying you will fly to wherever the animal is.  If they can’t make those arrangements, it is probably a scam.                         
  • Contact the publication or site where you saw the ad.  Let them know that this advertiser is a scammer, give them the email address of the scammer, and ask them to remove the ad(s) and to blacklist this person.
  • Do an online search on part of the text used in the email you receive from the shipper. Especially search for their introduction or information about the company.                               
  • Talk with a manager at the MoneyGram or Western Union office you used to send the money.  Be sure to take a copy of the emails with all the telephone numbers, names, email addresses, etc. of the scammers. 

If you used Western Union, forward the copy of the email with the scammers recipient information to:  [email protected] Ask them to publish information about the scam by contacting:  [email protected]

If you used MoneyGram, call:  1-(800)-MoneyGram.  Ask them to release information about the scam by contacting:  214-303-9923 or [email protected]

  • Do not make any payments through Western Union, MoneyGram, or similar services.  Once this payment leaves your hands, there is no recourse for recovery or refund.                         
  • Ask for the name and contact information of the “shipper” the advertiser plans to use.                 

If they claim to be a member of IPATA, you can easily check on that by using our “Find a Pet Shipper” page.  On occasion, there are new members that are not listed on the IPATA online directory.  If you have questions, the only way to confirm a company membership in IPATA is to contact IPATA directly.         

Do an online search for the advertiser’s email address.  If you find the ad on other publications, let the site know about your experience so they can remove the ad or blacklist the advertiser.

Report Scams to…


When your pet travels, the kennel should:

  • Clearly display your name and address
  • Use arrows  (Live Animal Stickers) indicating the top of the kennel
  • Include food and water dishes secured inside the kennel and accessible from outside
  •  Include  an ample of food supply in a bag attached to the outside top of the kennel
  •  Pet carriers should contain no more than one adult dog or cat
  • Provide carrier with crate pads.
  • Display labels on top and on at least one side with the words LIVE ANIMALS printed in 1-inch high letters.
  • Never give your pet sedatives or tranquilizers. Medications can interfere with your pet’s ability to maintain its balance and equilibrium, which could prevent your pets ability to brace itself and prevent injury. Flying while under the influence of these medications is dangerous as exposure to high altitudes can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
  • Exercise your pet prior to travel
  • Give yourself enough time to travel to the airport, rushing last minute can cause stress on you and your pet. Checking in late can result in the airline refusing to accept your pet.

Upon Arrival: When you arrive at your final destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe and secure place.

Short Nose Breeds: Shipping short nose breeds of dogs and cats  can be quiet complicated.  Short nose breeds include but are not limited to -

  • Pugs
  • English and French Bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • Boston Terrier
  • Pekinese
  • Cats such Persians & Burmese
  • Shih tzus

Because of their anatomical abnormalities, short-nosed breeds seem to be more vulnerable to changes in air quality and temperature in the cargo hold of a plane. As a result of the tighter space, they are prone to problems such as smaller-than-normal nostrils, a longer-than-normal soft palate, and a narrowed trachea (or windpipe). Because of these abnormalities, they don’t breathe as efficiently as dogs with normal-length snouts and can have difficulty cooling off when they’re playing or exercising, or if they’re stressed or overheated. And when they’re stressed, their airway can actually collapse (either partially or completely) and cut off their airflow.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation released statistics that showed these breeds are more likely to die on airplanes than dogs with normal-length muzzles. Here are a few tips that will help.

  • Buy a airline approved carrier that is at least 1-2 sizes bigger than the required size for your pet. This will help air surround your pet during travel.
  • Do not feed snub nose breeds for at least 6-8 hours prior to flight. Airline reports indicated vomiting may be a factor leading to death.
  • Give your pet plenty of cool water prior to travel.
  • Do not put heavy bedding/blankets in pet carrier, replace it with a  thin blanket or carrier pad. This will help the carrier stay cool.
  • Dampen or mist carrier pad or look into purchasing a dog cooling mat or pads. This will help to keep the carrier cool.
  • Keep your pet healthy and at a normal weight. Pets with underlying medical conditions may be more likely to have problems during transport. Elderly and obese pets may also be at higher risk.
  • Ask your Veterinarian about your pets respiratory health and what tips they can provide to help decrease risks.

* There are short-faced cat breeds, and they may also be prone to more respiratory problems than cats with normal-length faces – so be cautious if your short-faced cat needs to travel in the cargo hold.



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