There is an incredible bond that often exists between humans and their pets. It doesn’t matter what kind of animal.

It could be a bunny rabbit, a cute puppy or kitten, a scruffy mongrel, a horse, an iguana, a spider or even a snake. We love them all — at least someone out there does. I am somewhat adverse to big hairy spiders.

We spend inordinate amounts of money keeping them healthy, well fed and groomed. They are part of the family, sometimes garnering more attention than the human members.

Woe be the person who dares harm Fluffy or mistreats him. It is unthinkable if or when Fluffy turns up missing. The entire household is in turmoil until Fluffy is found.

Posters go up in the neighborhood, ads in the newspapers and rewards are posted. Scammers are always on the lookout for this.

There is the “gangsta” approach informing “youse dat de has your beloved wittle Fluffy. For a fee de will return said Fluffy but, should youse chose not to oblige, de will give Fluffy some cement bootees and see how long he can tread water. They will arrange a place to swap said Fluffy for de money but youse betta come alone — or else, ‘gurgle, gurgle.’”

Even better, the person calling about the lost little Fluffy is the one who stole him. He has scouted you and your family and is fairly certain that you will offer a reward. If not, he will place an ad somewhere and still turn a profit.

One may call and after you describe Fluffy say sorry but this is not him. They pass the description to a cohort who calls, describes him perfectly and wants upfront money for his return. After all, they have gone to some expense and trouble to care for Fluffy to this point and just know how grateful you will be to have him returned.

Now suppose you are looking for a pet, not just an ordinary pet but something special, say a Pigmy hippopotamus who you will train to sit on his bottommus.

Chances are you will not find one at the local pet store. Not surprisingly, you find one for sale in a foreign country but you will have to pay adoption fees — shipping fees, inoculation fees, food fees, importation fees, fat fees and fees for anything else they can think of.

When little Harry gets here, bam. You are informed that you now have to pay quarantine fees to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention — or at least so they say. It makes having a pet goldfish sound attractive.

Always check the federal requirements before bringing an animal in to the United States. You can do so at www.cdc.animal

importation/internet

scams.html.

As with other Internet transactions, beware of upfront money being required, the authenticity of the person or business you are working with and verify all of the shipping details.

There is a tremendous amount of literature on the Internet about people faking pedigree papers, lineage charts and Fluffy’s purebred status.

There are puppy mills whose entire focus is turning out more and more dogs regardless of how it affects the long-term health and condition of the animals.

Whatever pet you choose, watch for scams but enjoy your little Fluffy. Fleas — I mean please — be a responsible pet owner.

Remember: Think, prepare and execute crime prevention designs. Don’t be a victim.


Walt Candelari is a police officer with Dickinson Police Department. He is writing a series of columns on creating an environment of safety from burglars.

(1) comment

Jim Casey

Yeah, decades ago, before the internet era, our cat disappeared. We put an ad in the paper and had a dozen people call us, saying they found our cat. Some of them were impossibly far away. I think some of them might try to kidnap a pet "to order" for this kind of scam.

The cat never was found.

I have one other word of advice: microchip. They don't cost much. This goes for everything from cats and dogs to horses and cattle.

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