Dabbing at the perspiration on her forehead with a tissue in one hand, and the backside of her other hand, Rhonda LaCasse, lets out a loud vocal sigh of completion.
“I’d have been done sooner, but I’ve had some bad kids today,” says the owner of Grooming by Rhonda. “Every once in a while you get those that just won’t behave and they take longer.”
When LaCasse started grooming pets in her State Street site in 1997, she was out in the country. In fact, most of State Street was somewhat countrified back then, she’ll tell you. It was good back then since many of her clients were dogs that bark.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but this the first year in a while that I’ve been bustin’ the hump in August,” she says. “Usually, we see it taper off as parents get their kids back to school and they try to squeeze in those final vacations.”
Last year, Americans spent more than $53 billion on food, veterinary care, kennels, grooming and services, according to the American Pet Products Association. Trade group president and CEO Bob Vetere says it’s an increase of 5% from 2011. As to grooming, boarding, and pet-sitting, it grew by as much as 10% over the same time period reaching almost $4.4 billion.
This spending also increases fraud.
Idaho Falls resident Carole Smith (not her real name) called BBB after receiving a phone call saying she’d won hundreds of dollars in prizes and a million dollar grand prize after she’d signed up to receive “free stuff ” from an online resource.
“He had my name and address, and asked me for my zip code,” she says. “I never signed up for anything of course, and I didn’t give him any information.”
BBB called the number on caller ID, and a man answered, “All About The Pets, how may I help you?”
“Robert,” an employee, says they are in New York. The company provides discounts, coupons and rebates on pet accessories, food and veterinary services.
“All they have to do is go to the website, allaboutthepets.com to register and they get discounts by mail,” he says.
Robert says All About The Pets does not need Social Security numbers, and they don’t hold drawings or lotteries.
He denied calling Mrs. Smith.
When BBB searched for the website, it did not exist. There is no business record with the New York Secretary of State. There is no such business in the BBB directory. There are several websites for allaboutpets and one – allaboutthepet.com (note no “s”).
When BBB called the number later, there was no answer.
For weeks, Jeremy and Shelli Ajeti have searched for an English Bulldog puppy. Classifieds –print and electronic – were scoured and pored over almost nightly.
“Then, I came across an ad on Craigslist from a woman in Boise who said she had a boy and a girl,” Shelli says. “It was perfect.”
The couple wrote immediately, expressing their excitement, compassion and aspiration to own a bulldog puppy. Their inbox was flooded with gorgeous brown and white dog pictures. And, a note saying the owner had moved to Montana.
Legitimate-looking websites and classified ads entice pet shoppers with cute puppy pictures, detailed descriptions, and below-average prices.
For Shelli Ajeti, this was only the beginning of the nightmare struggle to find a pet. Three times the couple responded to listings, only to be disappointed when it was discovered it was a scam.
BBB says be cautious when buying products from online retailers.
- Do research on online search engines before making purchases.
- Search for reliable “Pet Supplies & Foods – Retail” companies on bbb.org.
- Beware of sites with bad reviews by growling consumers.
Supplements and food choices top the list of pet health while pet sitting, pet grooming and pet transportation lead increase pet services.
“With the Internet reach across the globe added to the increasing sense of hardship, the steady growth pet moving industry has become a popular target for deceptive practices,” says Terri L Malueg-Ray, a dog expert with Royal Paws. “For a few hundred dollars with anonymous registrations a professional looking web site of copied material can be up and luring consumers with deceptive claims ‘experienced’ or ‘pet handler.'”
She says unscrupulous people can, within a few short weeks, trick pet lovers to hand over their pets along with cash, bank transfers or other less secure payment than credit card direct purchases for sub-Parr services.
“As with all services or products found on the Internet, doing your homework has never been more important,” she says.
LaCasse agrees. With more than 20 years of experience, grooming requirements and expectations have doubled. Owners need to meet and talk with their pet provider.
“I’m not one to hold back,” LaCasse says. “I’ll tell people when they’re out of line with their animals, and I’ve seen a lot of animals over the years.”
BBB urges pet owners to find trustworthy service providers on bbb.org.