Breaking News
More () »

Woman scammed twice by fake puppy ads gets help from St. Louis business

Staff with Kennelwood Pet Resorts saw the I-Team investigation about a single mother losing her stimulus money to scammers. They stepped in to save the day

ST. LOUIS — The I-Team got results for a St Charles mom scammed out of nearly $2,000 while trying to get a puppy for her kids.

She fell victim to one of the riskiest, fastest-growing scams this year.

Investigative reporter PJ Randhawa shows us how by sharing her story, her family found a happy ending.

Puppy Love

Laura Neeter said she emptied her savings account for the wrinkly face of a Pug puppy.

“[My daughter] likes how they snort, their little squishy faces,” said Neeter, a single mom to two kids.

As the pandemic began, Neeter said her kids begged her for a puppy.
She found an out of state breeder online and paid $500 dollars for a Pug puppy.

But the Pug never arrived and Neeter soon realized she'd been scammed.

“I was really upset and you know I had to have all these visions of successfully getting a puppy for them and having them come home and seeing the puppy,” said Neeter.

She thought she'd recognize the signs of a scam the second time around, so Neeter tried again.

She found a breeder closer to home who seemed sympathetic to what she’d gone through. She paid the breeder $500 plus extra fees.

But when they suddenly demanded more money for a specialized crate, and non-existent COVID-19 vaccine, she realized she'd been scammed again.

“I had sort of kept it quiet because it's embarrassing and you feel like you’ve been taken or you should've been smarter about it,” said Neeter.

Neeter said her entire stimulus check, something she was counting on until she began teaching again, was gone.

Local business to the rescue

“Unfortunately with 46 years in the business, we've heard that tale time and time again,” said Meghan Dyonzak, marketing director with Kennelwood Pet Resorts.

Dyonzak said she knew Kennelwood could help. The pet resort offers pet matchmaking services, in addition to board, training and grooming.

“We know how much love and joy pets can give us, and we wanted to help laura and her kids have some love and joy from a pet,” said Dyonzak.

Kennelwood matched Neeter with a reputable local breeder and paid for her to get a new puppy. They also paid the pet fee for her apartment complex. Their generosity extended further. Kennelwood gifted Neeter with obedience classes, a grooming day, a doggie daycare package, and a session with their pet photographer.

Neeter was matched with a Beagle puppy. Her daughters named her Coco.

“I was blown away, just absolutely blown away. They wanted to try to make our story have a happy ending,” said Neeter.

Puppy Scam Reports Skyrocket During COVID-19 Pandemic

The I-Team found most people who fall victim to puppy scammers, don't get that happy ending.

On average, they lose $700, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Pet scams are also on the rise compared to last year. The BBB reports seeing triple the number of cases in 2020 as compared to 2019. In fact, pet scams now compromise 24% of all online scams reported to the BBB. Of those targeted for a pet scam, 70% end up losing money.

Staff members at Kennelwood shared their own tips for avoiding this increasingly popular scam.

“Is the breeder or rescue group as interested in you and your family and your lifestyle as you are in that potential puppy or dog or cat that you’re looking at? A health guarantee or records from a vet if you're dealing with a rescue group are always good signs they have the pet you're talking about,” said Dyonzak.

“Reporting the bad guys is important because even if they don't get stopped, there's no chance they can be if you don't say anything. And sometimes there's a happy ending,” said Neeter.

Tips for avoiding puppy scams

You may be asked to put down a deposit. Use a credit card if possible. Also ask if the deposit will go towards the purchase price of the animal. Get a receipt.

Ask for a health guarantee or records from a vet

Does the breeder have any interest in where the puppy will be living?

Verify the images of the puppy are original. You can do this by doing a reverse google image search. Click here for instructions.

You can find more information and tips from the BBB here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out