Since the COVID-19 stay at home order, Connie and Molly have taken steps to stay connected in order to continue to bring comfort and joy. In an effort to change to virtual visits, the therapy dog team has made movies while reading a book, for schools, libraries and social media sites to share and have made virtual visit videos for the patients at the VA hospital they usually visit. In addition, Connie and Molly have joined the AKC PupPals program, submitting countless videos to those in need and have sent cards and pictures to all the sites they typically visit. The pair also created a Facebook group called “The Therapy Animal Space” for people with animals to stay connected and share stories during this global crisis.
These new trying times have made Connie and Molly think differently about how to help bring adventures and connections to those who need a smile. They plan to continue to serve their community and beyond by using technology to bring the effects of the human-animal bond to more people and reach even further as they work in this new way.
∙Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center is pleased to announce that Tara Diller has joined the organization as the new President and CEO. SPARC is entering into an exciting new phase of organizational growth and is poised to become an even stronger community resource as it continues to pivot to meet the needs of its community and their pets.
The mission and vision of SPARC is embodied in the philosophy and work ethic of Diller, who for over 20 years has been on the forefront of the animal welfare industry and its ever-revolving place in our society.
“Now was the perfect time for Tara to become a part of the future of SPARC” said Chairman of the Board, Alexa Bodrero. “There are very few people in the animal welfare industry who have the experience, tenacity and passion that Tara Diller brings to our organization.”
The shelter has remained open with limited operations and is still in need of adopters and fosters to help keep our shelter population low. While limiting the number of visitors to those absolutely
necessary, we are asking that potential adopters and fosters fill out an online application and then make an appointment to visit animals they are interested in meeting. Potential adopters and fosters may call the office at (805) 525-8609.
∙Some families obeying stay-at-home orders have turned to the internet to look for a pet, thinking they would have plenty of time to help the pet adjust to its new surroundings. Many have come across scammers who advertise on websites for animals don’t exist and are never shipped. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has given scammers reasons to ask for money or explain why they can’t see the pet in person before heartbroken, would-be pet owners figure out they have been conned.
Puppy scams like these were the subject of a 2017 in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau (BBB), and they are prolific during the holidays. New data from BBB Scam Tracker shows that these scams have spiked since COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., with more reports about fraudulent pet websites in April than in the first three months of the year combined.
“Scammers frequently take advantage of the news to find new avenues for targeting victims,” said Rick Copelan, BBB president and CEO. “The uncertainty surrounding the
COVID-19 pandemic, along with some quarantined families’ decision to adopt a pet sight unseen has created fertile ground for fraudsters.”
BBB’s earlier Study found that for these types of frauds to be successful it’s usually dependent on bogus, often sophisticated advertisements to hook unsuspecting consumers. Experts believed, at that time, that at least 80% of the sponsored advertising links that appear in an Internet search for pets may be fraudulent.
Actual numbers of pet fraud may be much higher than reported, because many victims either choose not to file complaints or do not know where to turn for help.
Many victims who contacted BBB’s Scam Tracker reported they wanted to adopt a puppy in order to ease their isolation and brighten their lives during the pandemic.
Victims were often told that they needed to send money for special
climate-controlled crates, insurance and a (non-existent) COVID-19 vaccine. There also were several instances where the consumer wanted to see or pick-up the animal but was told that wasn’t possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A Santa Barbara woman reported losing more than $6,000 to a puppy scammer in April, 2020. She said that she purchased a puppy for her mother from a so-called breeder, was promised delivery every day but every day they asked for more money. One day they needed more money for a better transport carrier, another for accommodation fees and so on. The puppy buyer told the BBB, “When I said I couldn’t pay, I was guilt tripped that this puppy would be quarantined and I’d still have to pay more, still promising that once I paid the puppy would be delivered.” “A $600 purchase turned into over $6,000 and no puppy.”
Tips for avoiding puppy scams:
Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. If that isn’t possible, conduct an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, its likely is a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials, to see if the seller copied it from another website.
Don’t send money by Western Union, MoneyGram, and a cash app like Zelle or a gift card. These payment methods offer no recourse and no way to get your money back if you are the victim of a fraud. Fraudsters may claim to accept credit cards, but may steal your credit card information to use it in other scams or inform you that payment didn’t go through and request the payment via wire service or gift cards.
Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If a purebred dog is advertised for free or at a deeply discounted price, and then other payment is required for services like vaccination or shipping, it could be a fraudulent offer.
Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter. Especially during this time of quarantine, many shelters are looking for fosters to help relieve the animal’s stress and reduce overcrowding at their facilities. Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters.
If you think you have been scammed, report it to BBB Scam Tracker and the Federal T rade Commission. You also can report it to petscams.com, which catalogues puppy scammers, tracks complaints and endeavors to get fraudulent pet sales websites taken down.