Allegheny County

Forest Hills woman says her address, phone number are being used in puppy scam

FOREST HILLS, Pa. — A Forest Hills woman claims her address and phone number are being passed out by someone claiming to be a dog breeder.

In the last month, three people have contacted Cathy McFarland about dogs. Some people have even come to her home.

“Two of the people came out here,” said McFarland. “They said they were here to pick up the dog, and I’m like, I don’t have a dog. I don’t have any dogs. I don’t even have a dog of my own.”

One customer drove nearly 400 miles to see a puppy she was interested in purchasing.

“She came, and I happened to be outside. I had a nice chat with her. She came from Virginia. She had no way of getting back in touch with him, and he wouldn’t answer her emails.”

A Google search of McFarland’s address revealed several scam complaints, some even posted on the Better Business Bureaus website.

People online allege they got in touch with a breeder from a site called Most customers claim they communicated with the breeder through email; other customers claim they sent the breeder hundreds of dollars to reserve a dog.

“It’s just really strange. I don’t know why someone gave them my address and verifying it with emails,” said McFarland.

According to the BBB, there were over 1,800 pet scams in 2019 but reports spiked in 2020, with over 4,000 complaints.

The BBB also lists several ways to avoid pet scams, including:

  • Never send money via wire transfer to people or companies you don’t know and trust. The BBB says once the money is wired, it is gone for good.
  • Search the internet for the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, it may be a fraudulent site.
  • Find out what other consumers are saying by searching the internet for the breeder or organization’s name.

“If you’re trying to buy a dog from someone you don’t know, verify it with a second source or at least get their phone number and call the phone number and make sure that they are there,” said McFarland. “It’s really sad.”