Families outraged after paying for puppies they never received
OTTAWA -- Several families say they are victims of pet fraud after trying to buy puppies online from an Orléans woman, only to have her renege on the deal.
Brenda Carrillo was one of the prospective buyers.
“Her markings, her white chest, just so cute. I fell in love instantly,” she said.
The 18-year-old woman from Orléans posted the ad on Kijiji for an accidental litter of eight lab-pitbull puppies.
Carrillo says the deal fell through after the seller asked for more money than they had agreed upon.
“She bailed and asked me for more money and I was like, ‘I don’t have that kind of money. It’s Christmas time,’” she said.
In Aylmer, Marie-France Laporte says her family is out $1,165 after responding to the same ad.
“I have got nothing back.”
It’s a similar story for Mindy Stamper-Demers in Montreal.
“She got my full $1,200 for the puppy that she was asking for at that time,” she said, adding that her family spent weeks bonding with the puppy virtually.
“We were completely in love. Our son chose the name ‘Zuma’ from Paw Patrol.”
When it came time to pick the puppies up, the prospective buyers were taken aback by a series of different response from the seller.
“She texted me and said ‘I’m going to have to refuse’ and I said ‘Refuse what?’ and she said ‘The home for the puppies,” Stamper-Demers said.
Laporte also claims she wouldn’t give her the dog if she didn’t breed.
Stampers-Demers' three-year-old son had gotten attached to the puppy, she said.
“He was completely devastated, he cried a lot,” she said. “I just feel... I just feel guilty.”
A Facebook group claims at least 20 families have collectively lost more than $10,000. Several people, including Hannah Rivkin, have filed police reports.
“I dealt with this months ago and some of these people expected a puppy, at least I wasn’t bonded,” Rivkin said. “It was such a bad experience, but I’ve reported it. I’ve reported it. I’ve done my job.”
In a statement to CTV News, the seller admitted to the allegations. She said she needed the money for food and to pay for bills.
“I went through the biggest mistake in my life and I am gonna (sic) pay them back in full,” she said. “There’s no words I can say to the people I hurt but I am so sorry. I am sincerely terribly so sorry for what I did. But I ain’t a monster and I am a young adult that did a very stupid mistake and will never do this again,” she wrote.
She also says she has received death threats. As a result, CTV News has chosen not to name her.
Montreal police have issued a warning to the public to be vigilant when buying pets online, especially now, with a surge in demand.
“With the pandemic, dogs are going really fast,” Rivkin said.
The seller says all of the puppies have found good homes. Melanie Roach’s was one of them, but it was a short stay.
“We had her for a week,” Roach said. “I ended up giving it to the original owner. She paid a deposit first, she paid more money for her and it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Roach returned the puppy, anmed Eliana, to its original owner Brenda Carrillo, just in time for her son’s birthday.
“He cried. It was really touching and I cried,” Carrillo said.
The seller has been banned from Kijiji, according to the company.
“We take this very seriously, and we have both automated technology in place (i.e. blocking high risk IPs) plus dedicated support staff who personally review any questionable ad flagged to us by anyone visiting our site,” a Kijiji Canada spokesperson told CTV News in an e-mailed statement. “We encourage our users to continue to flag content of this nature.”