Suspected pranksters preying on people with lost pets

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) A cruel prank or a scam. Pet owners in Grand Forks are saying someone is taking advantage of people with lost pets.

A Facebook post claims this cat owner was called.

On the line a man claiming her lost cat, Bart, was found by a shelter. However, they went on to say the cat was going to be put down.

The really strange part was the callback number came from the Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks. But, the executive director says to be wary of bogus calls.

"Some of these calls, I know somebody said 5:30 in the morning they got a phone call, things like that, so that's not us," said the Circle of Friends Humane Society Executive Director, Lauralee Tupa. "But, the number that shows up on the caller ID is our phone number."

Someone is pretending to be the animal shelter claiming to have people's lost pets.

"I think how it's happening is people are posting their phone numbers on the Grand Forks PD page for people to call them," said Tupa.

Desperate to find their family pets, people post pics and their personal phone numbers on community Facebook pages in hopes someone will find their pet.

That's what Casey Ozaki did. She says her cat, Bart, is like family. He's been missing and when she got a phone call she immediately thought something sounded off.

She says she doesn't think they asked for money, but said a man acted like the phone call was breaking up and she could hear them say they were going to start the paperwork to put her cat down.

Circle of Friends says they currently don't have any male employees and they rarely put animals down. They say a call like that would never take place.

"When we're calling someone we're just asking them to come in," said Tupa.

As for Bart, still missing. And his owner says this cruel to play off people's emotions. She says she's keeping her number online in hopes someone may still find her furry family member.

The Grand Forks Police Department and the phone company is investigating the series of prank calls.

Animal shelters want to remind you that if you do lose a pet to contact your local shelter first and let them know what your animal looks like so they know who to contact if your pet is turned in.