FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Fort Pierce pet owner is sending out a warning to prospective pet owners to be careful where they shop for the next addition to their family.
Keith Crandall said he was casually searching online for dogs when he stumbled upon a picture of his current dog on a suspicious website. His dog was listed for sale for hundreds of dollars.
The Crandall family has owned several Bull Terriers over the years and currently owns a 3-year-old male named Ferdinand.
"They have so much personality, it's amazing," Crandall said.
Ferdinand's brother, Moose, died a couple of months ago. Keith said his family wants to get another Bull Terrier and he was casually searching online for Bull Terriers. He did a Google search and clicked on one of the first websites in the search results.
That's when he saw a picture of Ferdinand as a puppy.
"That picture was taken at our vet's office in Stuart," Crandall said. "He's on the website right now to be sold for $700. He's listed as 10 weeks old."
The picture appears to have been taken from an Instagram page that the Crandalls set up for Ferdinand. Crandall and a friend tried to figure out who was behind the website, posing as interested buyers.
"They gave [us] a property address to mail a check," Crandall said. "They sent more photos of the dog, but it was a picture of the kids in the picture with them, with me in them."
Crandall filed a complaint on the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Pat Deshong, president of Furry Friends Adoptions, Clinic and Ranch, said she was not surprised to hear about this scam.
"We've seen it so many times," Deshong said. "You end up falling in love with a picture and you get wrapped up in that, especially this time of year around the holidays."
That is why she encourages people to turn to reputable rescues that can often help someone find the specific breed for which they're looking.
"But if you must go to a breeder, find a reputable breeder," Deshong said. "I'm sure you can find one you can actually meet with."
Crandall also has advice. He has purchased all of his previous dogs through reputable breeders through the American Kennel Club.
"We had phone numbers to call them and actually speak to the people," Crandall said. "This website just shows pictures. There's no phone numbers to call anybody."