Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN) has issued a warning about the presence of fake pet rescue groups.

The scam rescue groups are targeting people who want to adopt from a shelter or rescue by impersonating real animal shelters and rescue groups or posing as people who want to rehome an animal and tricking the public into adopting pets that don’t exist, explained Trish Ennis, CEO of Australia CAN.

“The majority of pet rescue groups are run ethically by staff and volunteers who are dedicated and work hard to save animal lives.”

Australia CAN has partnered with Puppy Scam Awareness Australia (PSAA) to help raise awareness about pet scams.

Sandy Trujillo, Founder of PSAA, said they are very concerned that pet rescue scams are on the rise.

“Sadly, many pet lovers are getting pulled into these online scams thinking they are legitimate and often take what scammers say at face value. There are hundreds of these pages on social media and the public are unaware of what the red flags are.”

Christine Jenkins is a 78-year-old Sydneysider who was recently scammed of $2,500 by a fake website called WoodsPetsAU, which has since been shut down.

Jenkins transferred money for what she believed to be a six-year-old rescue dog. When Jenkins received a Facebook message from ‘David’ asking for more funds to cover a broken travel crate, she realised the dog did not exist and she had been duped.

“I felt sick inside. I became quite unwell because of that. I didn’t know about pet scams and felt so stupid for not being more aware. I was in love with this dog and all reason went out of the window.”

PSAA posted about the scam in their victims support group, and were overwhelmed by responses from people wishing to donate a dog to Jenkins.

“PSAA’s intervention made so much difference that the horrible experience is now fading into the background. I’m overcome with the kindness, generosity, and response of people, and it restored my faith a lot.”

Christine will be welcoming her rescue dog Max at the end of the month, along with a box of doggy presents donated by Presents for Paws.

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