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Puppy and Kitten Scams

Published on: April 17, 2024  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel


Before you click "buy" on that adorable online puppy or kitten, take a moment to do your research. It's a sad reality that pet scams are prevalent in today's digital age. Scammers are constantly finding new ways to tug at your heartstrings and exploit your desire to welcome a furry companion into your family.

As an international pet shipping company, we are well aware of puppy and kitten scams.  We want you to know the facts, so your new pet experience is positive and the outcome is exactly what you hoped for.

Pet Listing Red Flags

Pet scams can happen to anyone. That’s why you should use extreme caution when looking for a puppy or kitten online. Scammers create fake websites or post ads in places like Craigslist or Facebook advertising animals that do not exist. In some cases they will claim they need to rehome an animal for free and beg someone to take care of them, only paying a "shipping fee." In other cases, they will create fake websites posing as a breeder and then claim they have "registered" with a legitimate pet transport company for shipping. In this case, both the breeder website and pet shipping company website and/or email addresses are fraudulent. 

Legitimate pet transport companies, like Starwood, do not sell animals, charge a low "shipping fee," or offer refundable services. 

Here are some other common red flags to look out for:

  • Emails with different colored fonts, poor grammar, and poor spelling
  • Using different versions of the company name in the email content, email addresses, website content, and URL 
  • Asking for last-minute fees for things like required vaccinations, insurance, or specialized crates that do not exist
  • Claiming that they will hold the pet until you pay more money or accusing you of pet abandonment if you do not give them more money
  • Requesting payment via methods like Venmo, Zelle, CashApp, gift cards, or questionable wire transfers
  • Requesting you send funds to a personal email address instead of a business 
  • Refusal to allow you to see the pet or pick them up yourself if they are not far from you

How to Report a Puppy or Kitten Scam

If you feel you have encountered a pet scam or are the victim of a pet scam, you are urged to report it. Contact your bank or the company you used to send payment to see if there's any way you can get your money back. 

Report the scam using the resources below:

Other Ways to Add a Pet to Your Family

There are many other reliable sources to find the perfect pet for your family.


Your local animal shelter has cats and dogs who are hoping to find their “furrever” home. They are mixed breeds and purebreds, senior pets and, yes, puppies and kittens. If you want a particular breed, there are many breed-specific rescue groups across the country, working to find great homes for animals that have been abandoned or mistreated. The adoption fees you pay to a shelter or rescue group support quality, healthy living environments instead of a puppy mill or some other dodgy enterprise.

Most of these organizations post photos of their current residents, so you can easily search for a puppy or kitten that appeals to you. Then you can visit them in person to see if you’re a good match. That kind of chemistry is important when you’re choosing a pet you will cherish for years.

Reputable breeders

Of course there are reputable breeders. One of the most important things you can do is to visit the facility. Meet the breeder, check out the premises to see how the animals are treated, and check their references. Then meet the puppies or kittens that are available to see if one “clicks” with your family.

In today's digital age where online shopping is at our fingertips, exercise caution when searching for furry companions to bring into your family.


Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.