A provincial investigation is underway after an animal rescue group says four sick puppies sold to families in the GTA were linked to the same seller.
Just Paws Animal Rescue, a not-for-profit organization, said an emergency hospital in Richmond Hill reached out after two puppies that were purchased on Kijiji were diagnosed with Parvovirus.
“We were contacted and asked if we would take the dogs as a surrender,” says Tamee, one of the co-founders (Tamee requested CityNews not publish her last name for privacy reasons). “They’ve been in intensive care ever since. This Parvovirus is very dangerous, it strikes puppies and it’s deadly if it’s not treated quickly.”
Parvovirus is a contagious and sometimes deadly virus that can cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness in dogs.
Tamee said she had shared a post on social media detailing what had happened to the two pups, Ollie and Pollie. She said two families then reached out to her saying the same thing had happened to their animals.
“We have been contacted by two other people that have the same paperwork and it is, in fact, these puppies that they have were bought from the same Kijiji [account],” she said. “They have the same birth date, and they also have Parvovirus and they’re in the hospital so we’ve been in contact with those two families, and their dogs are sick.”
One of the families, speaking to CityNews under anonymity, says their dog was diagnosed with the virus by a doctor after experiencing a range of symptoms. The puppy was eventually released from the hospital over the weekend and is now recovering from home. The owner says the seller has agreed to refund a portion of the money they spent to purchase the puppy, but they have over $10,000 in vet bills. They add that they know people who successfully purchased pets on Kijiji, so they felt safe doing the same.
It’s unclear if the seller is a breeder. At least two people, including Tamee, say they have filed a complaint with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) following the diagnoses of the four pups.
The province, who is now responsible for the enforcement of animal welfare laws said they have launched an investigation. They have not released any further details about the investigation.
“Given the matter is under investigation, it would be inappropriate to provide further comment,” said Brent Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
Tamee says there were red flags that she saw on the Kijiji ad. For one, she says the puppies were exchanged in a parking lot, the cost of $3,500 per dog was too high, and the paperwork was sketchy.
“There’s no paperwork to say that these are not registered breeders, there were no health certificates, there were no receipts no purchase sale,” she said. “The vetting paperwork in my opinion and the vet’s opinion is false, it’s fake, and they were definitely scammed.”
Animal scams on the rise: police
Investigators from the DRPS Financial Crimes Unit have seen an increase in puppy scams since January. One victim lost $1,800.
If the price is too good to be true, it’s probably not true.
— Durham Regional Police (@DRPS) May 13, 2020
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC) said they are seeing an ‘uptick’ in these types of scams. Puppy scams are most common but said there are also other animals and reptiles used in these transactions, including cats, snakes, and other wildlife.
Between January and April of this year, there were 188 reports, where 124 victims lost over $127,400, the CAFC said. Last year, there were 81 reports during that same time period.
Just Paws says they’ve received an influx of emails from people who want pets due to social distancing, but the non-profit is concerned that this is a form of “impulse shopping.”
“This isn’t finding a pair of shoes and then putting them away in the closet, ignore them,” Tamee said. “This is a huge responsibility. If you want to get a dog you, really need to do your research.
Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to show that it is the province that is investigating as they have taken over responsibility for the enforcement of animal welfare laws. A previous version indicated the OSPCA would be investigating.