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Tag: online

Amazon introduces its own dog food line

wagfoodAmazon (remember when it was a river?) continues its quest to dominate the world (make that the universe) — by selling everything that can possibly be sold, delivering it in ways never before possible, and taking people where they’ve never been able to go.

Now it wants to feed your dog, too.

In its march to ruling every retail category imaginable, Amazon has announced the debut of a dog food line, which will be part of a much bigger step into the highly profitable, nearly inflation-proof world of pet food and products.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is calling the pet food Wag, named after Wag.com, which Amazon acquired in 2011. Wag.com now redirects to an Amazon landing page.

The food comes in several different varieties, with primarily protein sources including chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, and turkey. It will be available in puppy or adult formula and sold in five-, 15-, and 30-pound bags.

The food line is labeled “no grain added.”

Americans are projected to spend more than $72 billion on their pets in 2018, according to the American Pet Products Association. So the only real surprise here is, what took Amazon, which owns everything from Whole Foods to the Washington Post, which is renowned as a dog-friendly company, so long?

The move is seen as a threat to Petco Animal Supplies Inc. and PetSmart Inc., which purchased Chewy.com last year for more than $3 billion, as well as big box retailers and supermarkets that sell pet supplies online to many of the nation’s 85 million pet-owning households.

So don’t be surprised if you are seeing dog food-toting drones flying over head in your area some day soon.

How much is the dead doggy in the window?

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Everyone should know by now that there are certain things you just don’t procure online — not that oceanfront condo that looks so good in the pictures, not that Russian wife who looks so good in the pictures, and definitely not that adorable puppy whose photos you keep clicking on.

As effort-free as the online purchase has become — to the point that Amazon can now make items magically appear in the trunk of your car (try that, David Copperfield) — we may forget that we are living in the golden age of scamming, and that what’s too good to be true usually is, or may not even exist at all.

Perhaps nowhere is the scamming more rampant than in pet sales.

ABC7 (aka KGO-TV) in northern California took a look at some of those scams in a recent two-part report, interviewing both directly impacted victims and those on the periphery, such as the woman who saw her dead Corgi being offered for sale on two different websites.

(Find part one here, and part two here.)

“Tens of thousands of consumers, at least in the United States, have lost money to these online pet scams,” Rebecca Harpster of the Better Business Bureau told the station.

A BBB report says the scams are on the rise, and the FTC counted 37,000 reports of bogus online pet sellers over five years. The FTC estimates only about 10 percent of victims reported the crime, so the actual number of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands.

Not only do the scammers accept money for dogs that don’t exist, they then often string along the buyer with additional charges they claim are popping up in getting the dog delivered.

They’ll say they need to insure the dog for transport, or that a special crate needs to be purchased, ask for more money and say the dog can’t be delivered until they receive it.

The BBB recommends never buying a dog based on pictures or videos. Scammers use stock photos and videos, or obtain pictures of their own, and post them on the phony websites, claiming the dogs are for sale.

Wendy Hicks is one of many who say photos of her dog have gone on to be used as fake ads in seedy websites.

Her prized Corgi Abby appeared on Corgi Precious Puppies and Elegant Corgi Puppies — both of which have since been shut down. She suspects there might be more.

“It’s like whack-a-mole. You get them taken down here and they’re going to pop up somewhere else,” Hicks said.

PetScams.com has been tracking this kind of scheme for different dog websites around the world.

ABC7 interviewed the site’s administrator, Paul Brady, who says he gets complaints from people around the world who say they’ve lost money trying to buy all kinds of breeds from different online sites.

Pet Scams forwards any reports it receives about fraudulent pet websites to the company that registered the domain name.

(Image: A screenshot of the website Elegant Corgi puppies, which no longer exists)

Holiday gift idea: Pit bull leggings

pitbulllegsDon’t worry, we’re not becoming one of those news outlets that is dropping news to turn to schilling products for fun and profit.

But, given the ongoing need for gift ideas this time of year, we may present in the days ahead a few items that are especially weird, wacky or wonderful.

We felt matching dog and human pajamas qualified. And so do these pitbull leggings.

What pit bull-owning female would not want these — perhaps with a pair of the matching high top shoes?

Clothing and accessories featuring more than 50 other breeds are also available from the TC Shop.

According to the website, the limited edition leggings are official Dean Russo designs made of a polyester and lycra mixture. They are, the website says, “super chill.”

Now we can’t attest to that, and we have a policy of not recommending any product, or advertising anything, or accepting “sponsored posts” — so take note, all you business people flooding the ohmidog! emailbox.

We can only say this product looks cool, which, the Internet has taught us, doesn’t always mean is cool, or is of high quality, or even that it will arrive on your doorstep.

(Photo: The TC Shop)

Bethenny Frankel makes and posts video as her dog goes into seizures

Bethenny Frankel’s need for attention reached new heights over the weekend when she made and posted a video of her dog having a seizure, instead of trying to do anything about it.

The video shows the dog convulsing during what she described as a 45-minute seizure.

During most of the original video Frankel cried and shrieked: “Help me, what do we do? Help us … I don’t know what to do … Someone help me I don’t know what to do…”

“Do I take her to a vet? … What do I do?” she asked, wiping tears off her face. “My daughter’s watching this and we have to do something. The vet is 40 minutes away … I’m in a bad place.”

frankelThe reality TV star posted some additional videos after that, explaining that she felt there was no place to turn — except to her 1.5 million Instagram followers.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare everybody, but my daughter and I have been watching the dog have seizures for 45 minutes … The hospital is so far I don’t think we can make it.

“Anyone wondering why I’m doing this on social can fuck off, because all my friends are asleep … I’m freaking out. Why is this happening. I don’t think I can take this.”

Frankel shared the series of videos Saturday.

Later, she took her 17-year-old dog, Cookie, to a vet, where she died over the weekend.

Frankel issued a tweet about the death Monday: “My @cookiedabooboo is gone. Bless her furry heart.”

Frankel has appeared on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” “The Real Housewives of New York City,” “Skating with the Stars,” and was the subject of the reality television series “Bethenny Ever After.” Her talk show, “Bethenny,” premiered in 2013 and was canceled in 2014. She also has written several books, and launched her own line of “Skinny Girl” meals. In 2009, she posed nude for a PETA billboard.

Clearly, she’s someone who loves being in the limelight, and is not above shining it on herself through social media.

This time, it was a pretty unflattering light she portrayed herself in — and it was downright revolting in the view of those who are left to wonder why her hysterics, and the self-made video, took precedence over her dog’s well-being.

What is it? What is it? What is it?

The video above is:

A. Retired Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ latest interspecies race challenger, Chewbacca, in training for their upcoming competition.

B. An advertisement for hair conditioner.

C. Cousin Itt, after falling into The Addams Family pool.

D. An Afhgan hound underwater.

“D” would seem the most obvious answer, given the camera eventually reveals a distinctive snout, but the mermaid-ish way the creature’s arms are stroking is not the least bit dog-like.

woof in advertisingIt’s actually an animation — one of a series of ads for Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company that provides payment services for online storefronts. It’s intended to depict how “smoothly” their transactions take place.

Get it?

Chief Marketing Officer David Sandström said he and is team were trying to think of the smoothest things possible to feature in a video ad. They eventually landed on the idea of a creature with flowing tresses gliding underwater.

“The hair was a big, big part of it,” he told The Daily Dot.

The video floated around for a year on YouTube, receiving little attention.

But when Klarna shared it last month on Instagram, it quickly went viral as people tried to figure out what exactly the swimming creature was.

That — creating the mystery — was the whole idea behind the ad, Sandström said.

“We want to create a feeling of, ‘What the f–k is this?’ It’s important to us that people don’t understand what it is. The internet loves strange things. The internet loves weird.”

And even people who aren’t sure what it is want to know where they can order one, Sandström said.

“People have emailed us saying they want one and asking where they can get one.”

Fraud runs rampant in online pet sales

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If you’re planning to search online to buy a new dog, be warned: Up to 80 percent of the sponsored advertising links that will show up — like that one above for instance — may be fraudulent.

So might that particular photo of a particularly cute puppy, those purebred “papers” that the seller promises to send along, that pastoral setting in which a breeder’s kennel is supposedly located. And the dog being advertised? It might not even exist at all.

The Better Business Bureau last week issued a report warning that online pet sales scams are “victimizing Americans at an alarming rate.”

A growing demand for dogs and an increase in shopping online have combined to give scammers an unprecedented opportunity to promise to sell you a dog, and leave you much poorer and petless.

The BBB advises extreme caution — and never buying a dog from a breeder without visiting that breeder. Don’t let yourself fall in love with a photo and, as with online dating, be careful of getting your heart broken.

Fake pet sales have become so common that the attorneys general of three states — Ohio, Arizona and Virginia — have issued warnings to residents in the past year, the Washington Post reported last week.

The BBB report says many of the suspected fraudulent websites offering dogs are based in the West African nation of Cameroon, and that Cameroonians residing in the U.S. are being used to collect the money from victims through Western Union and MoneyGram outlets.

Several recent cases prosecuted in the United States involve links to Cameroon, including three Pennsylvania university students accused in May of peddling nonexistent boxer puppies online.

The BBB says a high number of victims of online pet marketing schemes are in their late teens or 20s

Such schemes are usually dependent on bogus, often sophisticated, advertisements to hook unsuspecting consumers.

“In the current digital age, it is no surprise that the first step in many people’s search for a new pet begins with the internet. Alas, even the most careful online search is likely to put a consumer in contact with a potential thief. Reports show there are thousands of people around the country, and the world, who have become victims of puppy scams, and many of these typically begin with a fake web site and stolen photos, often taken from a legitimate site,” the report said.

Greedy “sellers” rarely are satisfied with collecting a deposit; most will demand additional payments until the buyer finally becomes suspicious or runs out of funds.

The scammers often hit the prospective “buyers” with additional charges before any dog is even shipped.
While avoiding any in-person meeting with a potential buyer, they ask victims to send money to a supposed third party who will take over responsibility for transporting the animal. In addition to creating phony websites to advertise the animals, the thieves will develop bogus websites that appear to be legitimate transport companies.

Those who pay for pet shipping often are asked to buy or rent a special crate for the pet and requests for special insurance or shots for the animals. At times, the thieves may claim the pet is stuck at an airport in transit and additional money is needed for food and water.

If a customer balks, the fraudsters might inform them that, unless more money is forthcoming, the potential buyer could be charged with “animal abandonment.”

In one typical case a customer named Yahong Zheng of Omaha, Neb., ordered two huskies from the website huskieshaven.com. He forked over $1,200 and was asked for additional money before realizing it might be a scam.

Kanetria Hutcherson found a teacup Yorkie on the website usa.globalfree-classified-ads.com and wired the company a $195 shipping fee to transport the animal. Soon after wiring the $195 fee through MoneyGram, Hutcherson received an email appearing to be from Delta Air Cargo, claiming the animal needed a special crate before it could be put on the plane. She wired an additional $240.

After that she was told the dog had been transported as far as Oklahoma City, and she was instructed to purchase health insurance for the dog at an additional cost of $980. Later she received another email from Delta Air Cargo that asked for another $200; one instructing her to pay $150 for food and water for the animal; and another informing her the dog neeed to be quarantined at a cost of $1,900.

Not until she called the real Delta Air Cargo was she certain she was being duped.

Delta Air Lines last week filed a lawsuit against what it called a “bogus” site that dupes people into believing it provides pet transport services on Delta jets. The site is called DeltaPetTransit.com.

By then she’d paid nearly $1,000 for a dog originally advertised as free. While the dog was said to belong to a family in Baltimore, the same photo, it turns out, was used to advertise a puppy for sale in Florida, Texas, the U.K., New York, and Hungary.

The BBB Study suggests the actual numbers of pet fraud may be even higher than reported, because many victims either choose not to file complaints or do not know where to turn for help. BBB ScamTracker contains 907 reports on this type of fraud, which represents 12.5% of all their complaints involving online purchase fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission in 2015 found 37,000 complaints involving pets, and the vast majority of those are believed to be pet sales scams.

More information about pet sales scammers can be found at the website petscams.com, which tracks scamming reports victims and lists websites that have been linked to scammers.

Online service offers to match you up with the right adoptable dog, not the cutest

howimet

Borrowing from eHarmony, three women in New England have started an online service that matches those seeking dogs to adoptable dogs that will best fit their personalities and lifestyles.

How I Met My Dog features a detailed questionnaire for potential adopters that asks dozens of questions about a potential pet owner’s tastes and interests.

Those shelters and rescue taking part, meanwhile, provide specific information on the animal’s habits and behavior patterns.

Computer software does the rest.

The goal is to match up would-be dog owners with pets they won’t regret taking home — and will be less likely to return, according to the Boston Globe.

Jody Andersen and Mary Ann Zeman launched the company earlier this year in New England under the belief that adopting the right dog, as opposed to the cutest dog, can make a huge difference in the outcome of that adoption.

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Andersen, author of a 2002 book, “The Latchkey Dog,” is a believer in computer-assisted relationships, having met her husband online. She also used the developing software to find her current dog, a Weimaraner named Finn.

“We want you to fall in love at first sight, with a dog you can live with,” she said.

The service is free while in startup mode. Afterward, it will charge $49 to match would-be owners to available pets, and $75 to a current dog owner who wants to rehome their pet. Animal shelters can list their dogs at no charge.

Andersen lives in Long Island, N.Y., Zeman, lives in Connecticut, while Alana Mahoney, who manages the company’s relationships with pet shelters, serves on the board of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition and lives in Hopkinton, Mass.

Andersen said she has received inquiries from 400 animal shelters nationwide that are interested in trying out the new service.

“Every year there’s four million dogs surrendered to shelters,” Andersen said. “How I Met My Dog wants to find a home for every dog, where it will thrive.”

(Top photo: Jodi Andersen (left) and Mary Ann Zeman, cofounders of How I Met My Dog, in Boston, with Andersen’s dog Finn, a Weimaraner; by Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe)