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Consumer Advisory MDARD Reminds Michiganders to be Vigilant when Purchasing a New Pet

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is urging all Michiganders to be cautious when purchasing new animals, especially dogs. Scammers are using fake Michigan dog breeder licenses to further the ruse that they have credible, legitimate businesses in order to cheat people out of their money.

MDARD recently learned of two cases where individuals were trying to purchase a small breed puppy from an online source. In an attempt to show the validity of their business, the scammers sent these individuals a copy of their supposed Michigan dog breeder license. As part of their own due diligence, these individuals contacted MDARD to confirm Michigan’s licensure of these kennels, revealing the dog breeder license to be a fake.

“While it is unfortunate that scammers were trying to use fake Michigan dog breeder licenses to deceive consumers, I’m glad the potential buyers contacted MDARD first, and we helped to identify the scam in both instances,” said Dr. Nora Wineland, State Veterinarian. “At MDARD, we are ready to assist Michiganders whenever there are any questions related to our programs.”

“Bringing home a new furry family member is a big decision and those who purchase from breeders should be sure that the breeder is licensed and providing healthy animals,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Adopting a pet from a local shelter is also an option, but wherever animal lovers choose to find their pet, they should adhere to best practices to avoid being a pet scam victim. My office is committed to holding accountable anyone who takes advantage of Michigan residents looking to add a pet to their family.”

While there are many different types of dog kennels, MDARD has oversight over one specific type—large-scale dog breeding kennels. This program registers and inspects dog breeding kennels with more than 15 intact breeding female dogs that have whelped before. This oversight helps to make sure specific standards are met to ensure animals are healthy and receive adequate care. These breeders are required to provide a Pet Health Certificate with each dog or puppy they sell. Currently, there are 14 large-scale dog breeding kennels in Michigan registered and inspected by MDARD.

Both large-scale dog breeding kennels and smaller dog breeding kennels may be licensed and inspected through local levels of government, including townships, cities, and counties. The exact number of these small-scale operations within the state is unknown.

When purchasing a new pet, it is important to complete your own due diligence on the breeder before agreeing to spend/send any money to them. If you have questions related to a large-scale dog breeding kennel or any animal-related facility that appears to be licensed through the State of Michigan, please call MDARD at 800-292-3939.

If you have questions related to small-scale dog breeding kennels, please contact the local unit of government where the seller operates their business.

Beyond looking into the breeder, the Better Business Bureau encourages those looking for a new pet through an online source to follow four key tips:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person or through a live video call.
  • Conduct a reverse image search of the picture of the pet you are considering to see if the same picture appears on multiple websites.
  • Avoid wiring money or using a cash app or gift card.
  • Think twice if someone advertises a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price.

If you think you may have been in contact with or victimized by one of these scammers, please contact your local police department and report the scam to the Michigan Department of Attorney General. If you think you have provided a payment to a scammer, please contact your banking institution immediately.

For more information on how to identify and protect yourself from scams, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website or the Better Business Bureau.

Editor’s Note: The included image is an example of the type of fake licensure used in these scams.



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