OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – They had hoped for a furry family member, but after driving hours away for a puppy, a local family is heartbroken and out hundreds of dollars.
Randall Warren will never forget the day he first met little Chloe.
He says the Shih Tzu rescue, in a way, rescued him.
“She put her head on my shoulder, and the girl said she must be your dog. I said I want her,” said Randall “Whenever I was down and stuff, she took that and made me happy.”
But after 15 years, Chloe’s health began to fade.
She was ultimately put down just a month ago, leaving Randall reeling from the loss.
Daughter Brittany decided it was time for a fresh start.
“I noticed he was looking online for a puppy,” said Brittany Warren. “So I was like ok, I’ll try to find one for him.”
The dog was to be an early Father’s Day gift.
But a Shih Tzu on the open market can be an expensive bone to swallow.
“We’ve been looking,” Brittany explained. “People are wanting ridiculous amounts.”
So when a local online page with a pup for sale at a reasonable price popped up on her feed, Brittany was all ears.
She tells us says she agreed on a price just under $400, $180 of which was sent as a downpayment through the app Zelle.
Dad and daughter soon hopped in a car on a trip to Kansas City, to pick up their new pooch.
But even after their five hour interstate trek, the alleged pup’s owner was in no hurry to meet.
“I thought it was a legit deal,” said Randall. “We waited there for hours, and nothing.”
The fraudster first claimed a family emergency was to blame. But Randall says for two days the stalling continued, as they waited in a nearby hotel.
Ultimately though, the dog people stopped responding all together, and were never available for a phone call.
“We tried calling several times,” said Brittany. “I tried calling, my dad tried calling, nobody answered.”
“I’m very agitated about the whole thing,” said Randall.
It’s a ruse that’s on the rise, and families often end up at the Oklahoma Humane Society seeking answers.
“Usually someone coming in to the adoption center, and they’re downtrodden or just sad,” said Dana McCrory, with the Oklahoma Humane Society. “They’ve just been taken, their money has been taken, and the dog wasn’t delivered.”
Dana McRory is first and foremost, a rescue advocate. Her motto is “adopt don’t shop”.
But if you’re dead-set on buying a certain breed, just make sure you do your research.
“You need to ask for the breeder registration number, then make that call to the National Breeder’s Association to find out if that is a reputable breeder,” said Dana. “I would ask for multiple pictures of the same dog, with a possible unique identifier. Ask for a picture of that dog with a pink toy, or that dog with today’s news running behind that dog.”
She also advises folks to avoid paying anything up front when possible, especially through a phone app.
“If you have to put a down payment down, put it on a credit card,” said Dana. “So you can dispute the charges.”
As always, avoid those too good to be true offers, especially through social media.
Unfortunately, Brittany took out a small loan to pay for the new pooch.
But, there could be good news on the horizon! Keep your eyes peeled for an update.