A ‘dogged’ quest for justice

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

I love it when I find cool stories on the Internet — and I love to share good news. So I was definitely excited when I came across a heartwarming article about Patty Richardson.

Richardson is a North Carolina-based private investigator who “specializes in animal cases.” Right now she’s focused on catching the (alleged) scumbags who swipe and sell dogs.

Now that may come as a surprise to you. Frankly it surprised me, too. But given what I’ve learned about “dognapping” and related scams recently, I’m glad to hear there’s someone out there who’s willing to help people whose dogs have disappeared.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Of course, you might not be lucky enough to have a PI like Richardson where you live. And even if you do, there are steps you can take to find your dog before you summon reinforcements. The website fidofinder.com offers a comprehensive plan of action to follow when panic over a missing sets in. You should:

  • Calm down, take a breath and start with the obvious. Thoroughly check the house, yard and immediate area to make sure your dog is really “gone.”
  • Try to figure out how the dog got out of the house or yard and how long it might have been gone. That will give you clues about where it went and how far to look.
  • Designate someone to stay at home and man the phone when you start the search. That way someone will be available if anyone calls to report finding your dog, or brings it directly back to the house.
  • Be prepared to conduct a thorough preliminary search of the neighborhood by bringing a flashlight and photos of the dog with you.
  • Re-canvas your neighborhood on foot and by car if the initial search was not successful. You should also plaster the area with “missing dog” posters; and contact local veterinarians, animal shelters and animal control.
  • Use all available resources to spread the word, including social media and newspaper ads.
  • Remember the power of word-of-mouth. Tell your family, friends and neighbors about your missing pet.

To end on a personal note, here’s a little advice from yours truly. Don’t be afraid to call the authorities if you have reason to believe someone has stolen your pet. After all, the police are here to protect and serve.

Beware of ‘funny business’

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“It was three days before Christmas and I almost got scammed. Luckily I foiled the dastardly plan. They wanted to charge me exorbitant membership fees, but the bait and switch tactic was easy to see. I’ve got to admit it was a pretty neat trick. The people that pull it are certainly slick. I’m happy to say it was just a close call. And you’d better believe I won’t forget it at all.”

Yes, I’m making light of the situation. But in all honesty I am lucky I can afford to do so. If my instincts hadn’t kicked in when they did, I could have been bilked for hundreds of dollars.

That’s somewhat ironic. And scary.

As a police reporter, I spent a lot of time writing about the predators who take advantage of unsuspecting people. I’ve also been the victim of identity theft – someone stole my Social Security number after I was divorced and used my married name (which I had already changed) to claim my tax refund. Needless to say, clearing up that mess was a lot of fun.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner Alexandra Bogdanovic

As a new business owner, I was peripherally aware that I could be a target for unscrupulous individuals or organizations. Or, as in this case, for what could very well be a perfectly legitimate organization using what are, in my opinion, questionable tactics.

Here’s what happened. I received an invitation to join this group. I checked out its website and was intrigued by what I saw. I was also reassured by the fact that this particular organization is currently advertising on a well-known social media site. Long story short, I filled out the initial form and was informed that a membership coordinator would be in touch.

The aforementioned coordinator contacted me on December 22. After asking a series of questions, she informed me my membership was approved. After some more small talk and flattery, she said I could choose from a couple of different membership plans, costing approximately $900 and $700 respectively. When I expressed my surprise and displeasure, she offered some “affordable” alternatives. I again declined, this time more forcefully.

“This is a classic example of a bait and switch,” I said. “I don’t want any part of it.”


 

If you’re a new business owner, you may also be targeted. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Before you commit to anything, research it thoroughly.
  • Do not be fooled by glossy marketing material or slick websites.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Be wary of any organization that does not provide information about dues or membership plans up front.
  • Be wary of any organization that asks for credit card or other personal information over the phone.