(Billboard calling out puppy mill abuse in Pennsylvania courtesy of Star Cat at Flickr)

The fact that there are so many homeless dogs and cats is a sad thing to ponder. If you are like me (and a few humans I know) a trip to the local pound can be a heart breaking experience.

With so many homeless animals in the world, it amazes me that anyone would buy one. Nonetheless for whatever reason — people do and the result is a lot of abuse and a fair amount of scam activity — especially when the “I word” (Internet) is involved.

I happened to run into a pretty good article by Marissa Maroff published on eHow on how to avoid getting scammed, and in a lot of instances (also avoid) supporting, animal abuse.

Marissa writes:

Buying a new pet on the Internet is usually not a good idea. In addition to unscrupulous dealers and puppy mills selling their “stock” to unsuspecting buyers—online scammers use elaborate websites and fabricated stories to bilk substantial amounts of money out of people for pets that don’t even exist. And the pets that do exist, very often have serious, if not fatal health problems. Here are ways to keep from getting duped by online pet sellers.

If you insist on getting a pet via the Internet, the full article can be read, here.

The Puppy scam is also known in the Advance Fee (419) scam circles, also. Basically this variation of the advance fee (419) scam entails free pure bred puppies, or pure bred puppies at a “too good to be true” price. After a few e-mails to hook the victim into believing the deal is for real, shipping fees are sent (normally Western Union or MoneyGram) and the puppy never arrives.

Please note that the media loves to attribute all this activity to Nigeria (it makes good press), but Nigeria isn’t the only point of origin for these types of scams. Scams can orginate from just about anywhere.

Going back to my original thought in writing this post, there are a lot of lovable animals out there waiting to be adopted that really are free. These animals, who need a good home can be found at your local pound, the SPCA, numerous rescue organizations, or even your local Petsmart on weekends.

On a personal level, I highly recommend you start there before looking for a paid companion on the Internet. In the long run, you will receive some good karma and probably avoid (not support?) a lot of pain and suffering.

I’m dedicating this post to Raleigh, Ellen, Carole, Kim, Scott, Frank, Dave, Michael, Sam (1, 2 and 3), Olivia and Dr. Marylou Randour, who is the author of Animal Grace.

Animal Grace is a book that explores the spiritual relationship we share with furry critters of all kinds.

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