During the last 10 months that large parts of the U.S. population have been spending so much more time at home, animal adoptions have skyrocketed. Unfortunately, the news isn't always good when it comes to families hoping to adopt a pet. The Better Business Bureau reports that many would-be puppy owners are actually becoming victims of puppy scams. There's one thing that many of the scams seem to have in common.

According to KETV, in just the last month, people hoping to be owners of a new puppy have been sending money from Florida, California, Texas, and even New Hampshire. The Better Business Bureau says those who have been scammed have "sent thousands of dollars to several kennels they believed were located in or near Omaha (Nebraska). Since COVID-19 began, puppy scams have increased dramatically as pets have helped combat the loneliness during the pandemic. Puppy scams have increased five times since 2017, with losses reported in 2020 at $3 million."

The people who are being scammed send money and then go to an address where they expect to pick up a puppy. KETV spoke to Linda Albrecht, who lives at one of the addresses scammers send people to. She reports that in just the last three months, she's had people from Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin stop at her home thinking they were picking up their puppy. When those people ring her doorbell, usually on the weekend, Albrecht has to deliver the awful news. She told KETV, "You feel terrible. When you tell them, you see their face drop."

If you want to purchase a pet online, the Better Business Bureau has the recommendations below:

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  • Do a video call so you can actually see the pet being sold.
  • Search for the pet's photo via a reverse image search and a distinctive phrase that's part of its description. The pet shouldn't appear on more than one website.
  • Research the fair price of the pet you're considering.

I believe their best recommendation of all is to purchase your pet through a local adoption center, so you can see the animal in person before adopting. Here at the station, we work directly with four different area animal shelters right here in the Cedar Rapids area. They're all listed below.

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