Problem Solvers’ Investigation: Will “The Pet Rescue” bring your lost pet home?

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Desperate families looking for a lost pet are getting phone calls from a company called "The Pet Rescue" promising to bring Fido home for a fee. It sounds like a scam, but the company's owner swears he's legitimate. So FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar put him to the test.

Roxy was a beloved family pet, but two months ago the five-year-old Golden Retriever disappeared after a gate was left open at Zac Thielemier's Kansas City home. When neither Zac nor his wife could find Roxy, he posted an ad on Craigslist.

The next day he got a call. Smelling a scam, he asked not to be called again. But the calls kept coming and eventually Problem Solvers paid the $130 to see what would happen.

Watch Linda Wagar’s full investigation in the video above.

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13 comments

  • Maurizio Comelli

    Hi, my name is Maurizio Comelli and I am the developer of The Pet Rescue.
    I just find out about this reportage in regards to our work and our website.
    The Pet Rescue is using the help of volunteers to call lost pet families and present our services. Usually if they are told not to call back they will not.
    I do not have control over this therefore if they call twice or three times Roxy’s family I can only apologize for that.
    We received Roxy information March 25 and in the same day the information was posted in our website, social networks, our RSS feed and the information was also sent out to 78 among veterinarians, shelters, and rescue groups and so on in a 50 to 75 miles radius.

    Roxy’s family purchased the local search option. This search is carried on by volunteers, not by professionals, just people that helps us for the love of pets. There is a small charge for this addition but the money is returned if the local search does not bring the pet home.
    Has to be understood that we are searching for a Golden Retriever that has left home. A dog can travel over 10 miles in a day. This is what I was trying to explain when Roxy’s family called me complaining because they did not see anybody at their home looking for the pet. The pet was lost the 19 or 20 of March and we were already the 25th.
    We received an e-mail from the lost pet family asking to be put in contact with one of the volunteers. I explained that I was not authorized to give out phone numbers but I would give the family phone number to the volunteers to call.
    The gentleman called me accusing us to be a scam. When I tried to explain the way that we operate, the gentlemen on the phone started to be extremely aggressive to a point that I could not see any solution then to interrupt the service and return the money to Roxy Family and stop our service to locate the pet.
    There was a lady on the phone as well that I later learned was a reporter.
    I do not have a problem to talk to reporters it a matter of fact that we had a couple of e-mail exchange after the argument with Roxy’s family.
    I am pictured like a con man and the initiative that we run like a scam trying to pray people in pain.
    We do not make money from The Pet Rescue, the money that we charge is used to cover the organization expenses for a service offered that works for 6 months with information submissions every 30 days. If we were a scam surely we would not work for 6 months looking for a pet and we would charge 3 or 4 times more and our phone would not be present in every page of our web site
    The Pet Rescue does not represent my source of income, I work in Internet Security and Development around the world. The Pet Rescue represented a way to help people since I did found myself in the same situation.
    The way that this reportage is presented it wants to picture The Pet Rescue as a big fraud. We are not! We stopped the search for Roxy, returned the money because we have been attack by Roxy’s family and openly accused to be a scam. I had no choice than to stop the service and return the money.
    I strongly resent the accusations and the comment “Roxy is still lost and The Pet Rescue is still there” with the unsaid remark that we are the “scammers”.
    Well, we are not, we do our work with professionalism and we are on the pet’s side. Every lost pet is treated like one of our own. I think that the witch hunt should be pointed towards who really is taking advantage on families in pain: we do not!
    Thank you
    Maurizio Comelli
    The Pet Rescue

  • Damon

    If what you say is true, then the least you could have done is provided your clients with a list of vetenarians and shelters that you would be getting in touch with. To simply take a client’s money and put the work in the hands of a list of so called “volunteers” and “professionals” doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in your services. $130 dollars is a lot of money, and people should be getting daily updates on the progress being made on finding their pet.

    Besides, the moment Fox 4 revealed that you haven’t even been in touch with Wayside Waifs, which is arguably one of, if not the biggest animal welfare organization in Kansas City, just proved to me that “The Pet Rescue” is indeed a scam.

  • Maurizio Comelli

    Hi, we do provide our clients with the list of the places that we have informed if we are requested.
    In this particular situation we were asked to release the phone numbers of our volunteers, thing that I cannot do without being authorized to do so and I offered to have one of the volunteers to call the lost pet family, but after that I have been called a fraud. This had me return the money and stop the search for the pet. I do not like to be insulted and I do not like to see this service, I would not call it a business since we do not make money, slandered. It took me too long to have it been able to generate success stories.
    In regards to the Wayside Waifs, an e-mail was sent to: pglass@waysidewaifs.org. We did not have time to check if the e-mail was received or not since the service was cancelled. Sometime it happens that we reach mailboxes full or that the message is cancelled by mistake. We have over 500 contacts in MO. I do not have problems to show to whom the information is sent. I do have problems to release personal information such as phone numbers of private persons.
    It is very easy to call somebody a fraud … based on stories reported without paying attention to the real truth. We surely do not deserve that.
    I think that anybody who performs a service and hi is called a fraud would refuse to service that person and that’s exactly what I did, I asked him 3 times if he wanted my volunteer giving him a call and he kept calling me a fraud. I had no choice.
    I am sorry if somebody still thinks the contrary.
    Maurizio Comelli
    The Pet Rescue

  • John

    I have recently been called by this organization and currently trying to decide whether or not it is a scam. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of slander but there are also no success stories floating around to combat the bad. I do feel that $130 for a single post every 30 days is ridiculous, I personally post multiple times daily. I don’t wish to start an argument, but point out what people in need see when approached by this organization. I volunteer with my local shelters as well as having assisted in the management of one and have never heard of it, huge red flag, I desperately want this to be real but am extremely skeptical.

    • Maurizio Comelli

      Hi John;
      From your comment once more I realize how misleading this all thing is.
      First of all we do not charge $ 140, but we charge $ 80 for our service that includes:
      *Posting on the web site, ad with a picture page with no number limit.
      *Spreading of the pet information in a 50 to 75 miles radius area. In order to make this even more transparent, we are releasing the list of all the places that we contact.
      *Posting on 7 Facebook pages and creating one exclusively for the lost pet.
      *Posting on Google+ and Twitter.
      *We publish an RSS feed that gets picked up by numerous readers and I pods.
      *If the person does not have money to put a reward, The Pet Rescue is placing an additional $ 50.00 to help: this is a simple gift, nothing to be returned.
      All this is repeated every 30 days for 6 months. No recurrent or hidden fees.
      Do you still think that we charge too much?
      I forgot that if the lost pet is found and he runs away again, a simple phone call will reactivate the search at no charge for all the life of the pet.
      The remaining $ 60 are for the volunteers that do the local search where available. If the pet is not found in 4 days, the money is returned to the lost pet family.
      This is what we do.
      You do not read about success stories in our web site, I have eliminated those because it is too easy to misled people.
      Maybe I am too naïve and I should write my own success stories like lots of web sites and even posting the percentage of success around 78% … but I am an honest person and I do not want to lie and maybe nobody heard about us yet … but I still think that honesty in the long run will win.
      As you can see from the numbers, we do not make money, we offer a service at its cost because The Pet Rescue was created to help and it will stay in this way. Organization problems? Are solved every times that we discover them …
      Thank you
      Maurizio Comelli
      The Pet Rescue

  • Zac Thielemier

    Jon- you can believe him if you want but this is the second time in missouri he was caught. There was never any posters floating around my area and never anyone contacted by his organization (shelters, rescue groups). The only thing that was done was the facebook ads and facebook page and it was also posted on his website. All of that is not worth payinig for because you can do that yourself. Also in response to his previous comment we asked for the local information to be given to us and after arguing he finally did say yes and we waited a few days and never received anything from him. All of our local organizations and vets here would want their information released especially if it involves a lost pet being returned as that is one less dog in the shelter and one more free space unfortunately for the next one. So the facts are there in our report!!!

    • Maurizio Comelli

      Mr Thielemier
      probably you should tell what really happened because the way the story was presented was very misleading picturing me as a con man and insisting on facts that were not true and avoiding all the insults that I have received from you and that brought me to cancel the service and return you the money.
      I have offered you the listing immediately but you wanted the volunteer phone number and when I told you that I was not going to give it to you but I would have the volunteer calling you instead, you started to call me a fraud and a scam. It was never said, for example, that when you purchased our service Roxy was already 5 days on the run. He is a Golden Retriever and being 5 days gone … it is hard to believe that he can be around your house and the search started in a large area.
      The service was cancelled and the information about the cancellation was sent out the same day, maybe for this reason you could not see flyers in the vets.
      But it is not worth to spend more time in this issue. If you want to talk about “the other case“ It was a turtle lost in the woods that we could not find and the money was returned. And in that case to, The Pet Rescue was pictured like a huge organization with over 1000 people working in Nevada…
      How ridiculous.
      In regards to the listing in MO, we have over 580 contacts including the Wayside Waifs and more will be added; listings are available for the people purchasing our service.
      This is the truth and I will do whatever it takes to protect The Pet Rescue.
      Maurizio Comelli
      The Pet Rescue

  • John

    Well Mr. Comelli, yes I do believe that is to much money. Because for o e thing volunteers dont get paid, so trying to justify that $60 to your “volunteers” is ridiculous. Volunteers are supposed to do these thing out of the love for animals! They aren’t reimbursed for costs or get paid for their time if they do they are considered employees. Second you post to FREE Social networking sites, yes maybe multiple sites but all of which people has access to post on their own (for free). And finally third its not about you so called “hiding” success stories, it’s the fact that not one person besides your self is standing up for your “organization”. Success stories cant be hidden, if you were actually successful people would speak of how you were able to return there lost family members. But unfortunately its only you who talks about how well you’ve done, which to me puts out a much worse image then others speaking well of you…all in all I will not contact or pay you to help find my dog, you seem to spend more time online defending yourself then searching for lost animals, you should really try and get your priorities straight.

  • John

    One more thing, 15,000 people countrywide is not many people, yes its a big number but not enough to find any dog anywhere in four days. I live in the desert so are you going to tell me that its hopeless after a few days? Also if it is so expensive how can you return the money after four days if you continue searching for six months…this all just comes together as a scam to me were you are borrowing money from one person to pay another back…which must be happening since you apparently pay your volunteers…

  • Lorena

    I got a call yesterday regarding trying to help me find my dog. I was on lunch and said e-mail your information and I will review it. The guy was hesitant but did it anyways. I told him to call me after work, which is 5:30PM. The number comes out as a 5 digit number only, which is weird already but because I would not pick up the call after he called me 9 times today (again called during work hours and not after work), he left a voicemail saying, “This call is regarding your F***en dog, and if you want to find your f***en dog, please call me back at F*** you, F*** you, F***you!” Definitely a scam and not looking out for the best interest of me or my dog!