Pet adoption disputes, scams on the rise during pandemic

RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) – A familiar breed with beautiful blue eyes is the dog Amy Peraldo fell in love with when she decided to adopt another dog earlier this year.

She found “Milly” online through a rescue group.

It turned out that this heartwarming moment was the start of what Peraldo called a horrific experience. The rescue group called the experience a bad game.

According to the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida and the Southeast Atlantic, disputes over pet adoption are on the rise, as are scams involving pets.

The pandemic has led to an increase in pet adoptions as many seek a way to ease feelings of isolation.

“It’s because people have to be home. And they say, ‘OK, this is a good time to have a puppy. We’re going to allow it to clean up and train, and we’ll be fine before we have to get back to work, ”said Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida and Southeast Atlantic. .

For Peraldo, she decided to adopt with the desire to find a companion for her dog Marly.

“She was a great dog – because she’s so hyper – she’s half Catahoula, half Greyhound and because she’s so hyper she needed a dog to play with,” Peraldo said.

In March, Peraldo found a similar breed for adoption through Georgia Animal Rescue & Defense, Inc. This is the same rescue group where she adopted Marly a few years earlier and had a good experience.

The adoption initially went well. The problems, Peraldo said, started as soon as she brought home her new dog “Milly”.

She noticed that the dog “was afraid of men,” said Peraldo, when Milly met her husband.

And then, a day after adopting Milly, the dog ran away after being scared when Peraldo returned home after taking Milly for a walk.

“My husband opened the door. She rocked, ”Peraldo said of Milly. “She started doing barrels. I fell about five paces and at that point I had to let go of the leash.

Their new dog became a lost dog, and a huge disagreement ensued between Peraldo and the rescue agency over the dog’s temperament. Ultimately, GARD helped her trap Milly, but then refused to release the dog to Peraldo.

“I mean, she left in the white van, she left,” she said.

Not knowing what to do, Peraldo filed a report with the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office.

“I didn’t do anything with the police report because I was able to cancel the check,” she said. GARD did not dispute Peraldo’s account that he captured the dog and did not return it.

“I just felt like it wasn’t a good choice for my dog, and I’m sorry, but I’m going to do what’s best for my animals,” said Joy Bohannon, director of GARD.

She added that GARD would have offered a refund if Peraldo had not reversed the payment.

The nonprofit is a Pembroke-based no-kill pet shelter that has been around for years. He adopts animals, often from difficult situations. Milly has had a difficult past, said Bohannon. “She was basically wild. You couldn’t touch her. She would growl at you. I worked with her for two years.

At this point, Bohannon felt the dog was ready for adoption, but with specific instructions, she said.

“This dog was extremely fearful and bringing her home and keeping her in the privacy fence for two weeks,” Bohannon said.

Peraldo, she received no instructions, she said, and Bohannon agreed that there was nothing done in writing regarding the dog’s behavioral needs.

This is something the BBB says needs to be documented.

“A dispute between a client and the company: we’re going to be kind of the man in the middle, the go-between to try to get them to discuss together and come to a resolution and it happens. Our resolution rate is probably 84 percent, ”Stephens said.

The dispute resolved on its own when Peraldo stopped the payment, she said.

In a recent interview with WTOC, Bohannon said that she learned one thing from this experience and now wants to create an adoption contract specific to rescue dogs with behavioral needs.

As for the dog, she has found a new home, which suits her well, Bohannon said. Peraldo recently adopted a Beagle whom she named Suki, so Marly now has the friend she needed.

If you’re new to pet adoption, the BBB has tips to help you avoid the pitfalls.

  1. Do your research – only consider a pet adoption group or a reputable breeder.
  2. Get everything in writing – instructions on how to take care of the dog and a copy of the contract.
  3. If pet adoption fees sound too good to be true, there’s probably a catch.
  4. If things go wrong and there is a dispute, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
  5. If you suspect a scam or fraud, report it to the state attorney general’s office and local police, so they can investigate.

Copyright 2020 OMCC. All rights reserved.

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