A cautionary ‘tail’

By Melanie Yingst

Folks, if something is too good to be true, it most likely is.

Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of adding another four-legged family member to my household. Shorty is alive and well. In fact, he’s the best dog in the whole world.

Yet, over the last year or so, I’ve been perusing the local shelter websites throughout the day during what I call my “daily puppy pause” or mental health break, if you will. Once in a while, I’ll spot a dog who piques my interest. I usually mull it over and, if I’m brave, I’ll show the picture of the dog I’ve already mentally adopted to my parents.

“Whook how adorable his whittle face is! What’s one more dog really?”

They then remind me how easily they could evict me and change the topic of conversation to something mundane like the week’s precipitation levels and the grain market forecast.

But, it’s free to dream, right?

So, of course, I’ve continued to search for this magical puppy and even joined a few Facebook pages looking for breeders for a Corgi or Corgi-mix dog just like my beloved Shorty.

This is where it got dangerous. Oh, the fluffy puppies. Some were so cute I would use my Map app to see exactly how far Lawrence, Kansas was. I would then calculate the drive and figure out how I could still get back home in time for that city council meeting without anyone noticing I had even left.

I dream big, I know.

Anyhow, there happened to be a set of puppies for sale online near Virginia. Well, that’s not too far for this gal to drive. Virginia is beautiful this time of year. So, I emailed the breeder and requested some information just to test out of the waters.

An unknown cell phone number popped up on my phone a few hours later. This person asked if I was interested in a male or female puppy. I asked for a few photos and sale prices. Things took an odd turn when they kept insisting that they would ship the puppy to me. And then, I kept insisting I would rather drive to meet them in a safe location near their home. The person sending the messages also kept repeating questions I had already answered. They kept asking my location (North of Dayton, never give your address) multiple times and where the nearest airport was to send the dog. They claimed they could ship the dog that evening if I wired money to them by 6 p.m. Whoa. They were very, very pushy.

Folks, when something is too good to be true, it usually is. There was no way I would send money to a total stranger. I’ve never wired money in my life. I was just testing the puppy waters, so to speak.

A quick Google search of their phone number showed the number originated in New York. The number was also linked to a website in Arkansas, but they told me the dogs were located in Virginia. I also Googled Corgi puppy photos and here they had ripped off pictures of these dogs from a website in Australia. This took less than 5 minutes, folks.

It was a puppy scam. Luckily, I have read in police reports and the Attorney General Office’s press releases about these scam artists who get vulnerable puppy lovers (like myself) to wire money to ship their mythical dog to their home. The money gets sent…and no puppy ever arrives. Can you imagine waiting at the airport to no avail? That’s just so mean.

In a press release dated this past May, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received about 40 puppy scam complaints in 2017, with an average reported loss of about $600.

Scam artists are everywhere. I constantly warn my beloved Norma Jean to not even answer the phone if she doesn’t recognize the number. Once they knew I wasn’t sending them money, the messages stopped coming.

Ugh. Con artists are the worst.

People will often pay the “breeder” hundreds or thousands of dollars, supposedly to cover shipping fees, crate costs, insurance payments, or veterinary bills, but they never receive anything in return.

While I’m sad to know these people are out there and that they prey on those who simply want a new dog, I hope to share this story to keep other dog or other animal lovers from falling victim to the lowest of the low.

I think I’ll stick to what I know and keep searching in the local shelters. There’s another Shorty out there somewhere and rescue dogs pay it back ten-fold.


By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. The best dog movie of all-time is “Best in Show.”

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. The best dog movie of all-time is “Best in Show.”