Officials at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City are warning the public about an increase in pet transport and delivery scams.
Citizens who purchased an animal out-of-state are told their new pet will arrive at the airport, only to find it never arrives.
The scams are happening across the country and not just in Oklahoma City. Animal lovers are losing thousands of dollars and want to warn others.
“Just go and get the dog yourself,” said Holly Ray, a scam victim. “That’s what I wish I would have done.”
A Turkish Boz Sheppard named Atlas should be at his home in California, but he went missing in July. Ray said she purchased Atlas from a breeder in Oklahoma City and used a company called CitizenShippers to transport him.
“CitizenShippers is a website that does background checks, supposedly, and has reviews of different transport companies," said Ray.
But the drivers for the transport company, Dave's Doggie Express out of Kansas, claimed Atlas and another dog they were delivering were stolen at the Days Inn near Interstate 40 and South Meridian Avenue. They even filed a police report stating the dogs were taken from a locked car. Ray did not buy their story.
“The story that they gave is so fanciful and it doesn’t make sense,” said Ray.
Atlas and dozens of other furry friends have gone missing while allegedly en route to their new owners.
“We have been receiving phone calls,” said Stacey Hamm, Will Rogers World Airport. “It started last spring and the calls have ramped up quite a bit.”
Hamm said scammers are telling hopeful pet owners the animals will arrive at Will Rogers World Airport, even giving the customer an actual flight number.
“They’re telling them there are specific companies at the airport they need to look for, and we don’t have those companies here,” said Hamm.
As for Ray, she hired a private investigator to help her find Atlas and started a Facebook group page.
“At the end of the day, of course, I just want the puppy,” said Ray. “I would much rather have him back then the money.”
Hamm said if you ship an animal by air, ask the delivery service for an airway bill and verify everything through the airline.